For parents, finding a pediatrician to care for their child can be seen as a daunting task. There are often many questions and factors parents have to consider when choosing someone to care for their child.
Sanford Health pediatrician Christina daSilva, D.O., has some advice for parents on choosing the perfect pediatrician.
A specialty in children
As a pediatrician, Dr. daSilva has a special focus on children and their development.
“We take care of normal, well children to children with varying genetic disorders,” Dr. daSilva said. “These disorders can range anywhere from Down syndrome, DiGeorge syndrome, cerebral palsy to other metabolic problems.”
According to Dr. daSilva, having a pediatrician is crucial.
“As a pediatrician, my training is specifically in children ages 0-18 years old,” Dr. daSilva said. “We do a three-year residency that is based on working with children and with pediatric specialists.”
This in-depth knowledge of children and how they develop aids in identifying growth and development issues.
“One of the things we follow very closely is growth,” Dr. daSilva said. “I get concerned when children are not meeting their appropriate weight or height.”
In addition, this specialty and emphasis on following growth allows pediatricians to identify other issues that might not be showing signs or symptoms.
“Most of the time in kids the only sign of celiac disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease is simply that they’re not growing correctly,” Dr. daSilva said.
Parents rely on their pediatrician to guide and inform them through their child’s developments. While there are many topics pediatricians discuss with parents, Dr. daSilva says that it really depends on the age of the child.
“If it’s a newborn visit, for example, the focus will be on fever, sudden infant death syndrome, keeping your baby safe and addressing popular beliefs and concerns,” she said.
However, as they age, their visits have a different focus.
“If it’s a 6-month well child check, I’m talking about how we need to put the crib on the lowest setting,” she said. “They’re going to be crawling and pulling to stand and getting into more trouble.”
As a pediatrician, Dr. daSilva says she also discusses common misconceptions about babies and development.
“We address topics like teething, fevers, sleeping, and other development milestones,” she said.
Finding the right fit
Choosing a pediatrician that you and your child are both comfortable interacting with is crucial. Dr. daSilva says she takes certain approaches to interact with kids and participate in exams.
“You’re often times making animal noises in their ears, having them point out things that are in books or on our boards,” she said. “It’s very important to have a good relationship with the parents and other family involved.”
Not only is a good relationship crucial, but so is being comfortable enough to openly communicate with your pediatrician.
“Obviously, communication is going to be the biggest asset to have. You have to be able to trust your pediatrician and want to develop that relationship,” Dr. daSilva said.
If you’re looking to meet pediatricians and get to know them first, Dr. daSilva says they do meet-and-greets in their office.
“Parents are more than welcome to call us if they would like to meet, and just ask questions or anything that we can help answer,” she said. “Especially if you’re a first-time parent, because let’s face it, we’re never completely prepared for a baby.”
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