Since more attention has been paid to the spreading of the Zika virus, many parents have spent a little extra time picking the brains of their child's pediatrician, which is fine since parents tend to keep their kid's doctor on speed dial anyway. What's one more annoying phone call to ask a zillion questions about a disease your kid totally doesn't have? For real though, your child's pediatrician plays an important role in both of your lives — keeping your kid healthy and keeping your anxieties in check — so it's only natural that you want them to like you. Like, you know they've got a lot of families on their roster, but I mean, your family is clearly the best, and you kinda want your pediatrician to agree.
Even just your baby’s well child visits serve as a vital act in their upbringing: Not only do they offer an inside look inside the growth and development of your mini, but they also provide detailed synopsis of your maternal aptitude (or at least, that's how it feels). As with any pending report card, feelings of inadequacy are not entirely unjustified but judgment from your child’s pediatrician brings about a special kind of apprehension. You can handle your own self-doubt, but oh my god, when you get around your pediatrician, you need to feel like they feel like you're the world's best parent or else you're seriously going to start questioning yourself. After all, making Ds in algebra is rarely life-altering, but making Ds in parenting? Nope. Pretty much gonna need the baby doctor to think you're awesome.
As a former nurse, I've worked behind the scenes of many a pediatrician's office visit, and I know what it takes to be a beloved family. Because the truth is, most doctors and nurses are totally not judging how "good" or "bad" of a parent you are (which I'm sure you logically know). But if you want that feeling like everyone at your ped's office adores you? Well, there is a pretty specific battery of strategies you can employ to win that battle. I know firsthand how frustrating a parent’s absentmindedness can be, and how far it goes when parents totally have it together when they walk in. I know a doctor’s office can be intimidating and the influx of new information is sometimes overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to prepare for your child’s appointments that will make your healthcare provider want to hug your face and high five you all at the same time.
Vaccination records are kind of a big deal for your baby. If the doctor doesn’t have record of what shots they’ve already had, how are they supposed to know which ones they need? Most doctors obviously keep track of these things, but especially if you switch pediatricians, you can win points by being extra diligent about making sure that records are transferred.
Also, if you take your baby to an urgent care clinic for any reason and they're given any type of treatment, your pediatrician needs to know. Kids are born with a blank slate when it comes to health records. It sometimes takes time, trial, and error to fill in those blanks and figure out what works best for them. If any issues with their health are uncovered, they need to be properly recorded. Your pediatrician will adore you for not making them scramble to piece together information, or work from incomplete info.
Wash Your Hands
Wash your kids’ hands. The CDC refers to hand-washing as the “do-it-yourself vaccine” because it’s one of the most important steps you can take to keep yourself and those around you healthy. Whether it’s baby pee or toddler snot, there’s a good chance there’s some sort of questionable body substance lurking on your hands. That’s just life with kids. They’re like walking petri dishes and a waiting room full of sick kids is basically a giant germ orgy. So just wash your hands.
Come Prepared In Every Way
Especially when they're young, you know that there’s a good chance your child will be stripped down to their birthday suit at some point during their well child visit, so please, for the love of all that is time-consuming, do not accessorize your children. Keep it simple so as to take advantage of every ounce of your time with the pediatrician.
If you have any questions (you will), write them down and ask them during your visit. If you have any concerns (you will), go ahead and address those with the doctor while you’re there too. Pediatricians love proactive parents! Taking an active role in your child’s health and being informed are awesome things, but if you can do those things in an organized and efficient way? You'll be your pediatrician's favorite family for sure.
Don't Quote Dr. Oz
Ever. Seriously, everrrr. Just don’t.
Arrive On Time
Doctors inevitably get a little behind schedule at some point; that’s just par for the course in all areas of healthcare. There’s no way to predict every ailment that walks through the door. However, a perfectly routine day goes awry when patients arrive for their appointments 30 minutes late and still insist on being seen immediately. It throws the entire system off, creates even longer wait times, and often robs the staff of their lunch time. So don't be late. And if you’re going to be late, at least bring snacks.
Know Your Numbers
We’re talking how often your baby eats, poops, and sleeps. If they’re taking medication, what dose and how often. These numbers may seem easily forgettable, but actually they're also pretty easy to just, ya know, write down. And they actually offer a very important inside look into your baby’s health. Pediatricians need to have that information, so if you've got it locked and loaded when you walk into your appointment, your doctor is about to be a huge fan.
Pay Attention To What The Doctor Is Saying
When you get to an exam room, try not to let your child turn the place upside down while you’re updating your Facebook status (hey, we all do it; waiting is boring). I once saw a kid throw his mother’s wallet into the biohazard container while she was checking her phone. Not only should you be paying attention to what they’re getting into — There's an actual biohazard bin in there, guys. Eyes on the tiny human. We can do this. — but you also need to pay close attention to any information the doctor is giving you. Don’t be afraid to write anything down or ask questions to clarify.
I can’t tell you how many overtime hours are logged by nurses returning phone calls after hours and reiterating what the doctor has already said. It’s OK to have questions. There’s usually a lot of information flying around, so just do whatever you feel is necessary to absorb it all. If nothing else, your kid's doctor is going to appreciate the hell out of the fact that you're present, engaged, and doing your best to be aggressively involved in your child's wellness. (But still, seriously be on time and wash your damn hands.)