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Parenting Tip of the Day #2- The Doctor’s Office


Some people are free-spirited, flexible, go with the flow types.  And then there’s me.  For me, I’ve got to think through my plan for the day, prepare myself, go through several worst case scenarios so I’m prepared for those too, and then I can leave the house.  This means new situations are a little stressful for me as I try to figure out the best way to do something or adjust to the expectations.  This was SO true as I tried to figure out how to have a successful pediatrician visit.

We’re blessed to have healthy kids at this point, so we mostly deal with “well child” check-ups and having four kids in five years has made me quite a pro.  So for any of you who want to have a go-to plan for how to make this experience as smooth as possible, here are my tips:

-Fill out any paperwork ahead of time- Some offices have their forms available on-line.  I am so much happier when I can sit down with a bowl of popcorn on my couch and try and remember how many times I nurse the baby during a day instead of trying to figure that out while I’m juggling the baby and trying to keep the other three kids entertained in the tiny room I’m pretty sure has The Plague germs.

– Schedule appointments for the moments when your child will be happiest- stay away from nap time.

– Tuck a note in your back pocket of any current questions or concerns- I always forget that one question (Is that vein in his head supposed to stick out like that when he cries?) that’s been bothering me for weeks right at the moment the pediatrician says, “So, did you have any questions for me?”  Now I just write it all down ahead of time so I don’t forget anything in the moment.

-Update your diaper bag (BRING A BLANKET)- Make sure you’ve got everything you need to keep a little one happy while waiting in the office.  A little snack, a favorite toy or two, a book, the pacifier, and don’t forget a snuggly blanket if you’ve got a little one who will have to be undressed during the visit, especially during the winter months.  My bigger kids who either have an appointment or are tag-alongs for the baby’s appointment get a reward if they were good during the visit.

-Pick an easy outfit- I used to stress about making sure they looked cute, but eventually figured out the doctor really only saw them naked.  It makes the most sense to have them really scrubbed and clean in an outfit that easily comes on and off.  I also try and pick an outfit that will accommodate shots.  It’s so sad to have a crying baby who just got a shot and then have to try and redress them in the office.  I have my girl in a skirt and my boy I try to do in a shorts outfit or a onesie with soft sweatpants that pull up easily.

-Make your follow-up appointment BEFORE your baby gets shots- I always schedule my next appointment while I’m still in the doctor’s office, but I hated holding the crying baby and trying to figure out my schedule.  Now I just make the follow-up appointment at the same time I check-in for the current appointment.  Two birds- one stone.

-Remember your pediatrician is only as useful as the information you’re giving-  I can start to feel like I have to “win” the appointment.  I have to prove what a good mom I am and how spectacular these kids are.  That can prevent me from asking the questions or expressing the concerns that would actually get me the help I need for my kids.  I have to see my pediatrician as a member of my team who wants what I want- healthy, strong kids.  I need to treat the doctor with respect and model that for my kids.

-Pre-teach so your kids know what to expect- I go through every detail of the appointment with my kids the day before we go in.  And I don’t gloss over the tough parts.  I don’t want them to be surprised by what’s going on or to feel that I’m surprised.  I like that my pediatrician says to my kids before having them get naked, “This is only okay because your mommy is here.”  I appreciate that she doesn’t just say it’s okay because she’s a doctor because that could set my kids up for problems if anytime someone claimed to be a doctor they could make those demands.  I like that she’s affirming my authority as the parent and if your pediatrician doesn’t give that speech, I’d be sure you say that to your kids.  (I did get myself in trouble by pre-teaching what would happen in the appointment to the point that my son walked into the doctor’s office and immediately dropped his pants before anybody asked him.)


How do you make doctor appointments go smoothly?  I’m always up for new hints.


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  1. I never used to stress about my girl looking cute for the pediatrician, until I got a copy of her medical records when we moved, and realized there was a line for them to check whether or not she looked “well-groomed and cared for.” Now I’m always thinking: her hair is tangled – does she look uncared for? Will I get written up if her pants have mac’n’cheese stains on them from lunch?

    • Unnerving, isn’t it? I’ve always been extra cautious and aware of how the kids look especially as a foster parent. Seems like this is a situation where they do judge a book by its mac n’ cheesy cover.

  2. These are awesome and so helpful.. I swear everytime we go to the doc my kids regress and start talking in baby talk and only give one word answers-it’s SO weird! Not to mention how they rip up all that white table paper and roll around like maniacs on the doctor chair! Sigh

    • Yes! The dumb paper! The Baby ate half of it by the time the doctor even got in to see him. There’s some healthy immunity for you.

  3. These are great suggestions! I’ve actually forgotten how the difficulties of taking a baby or toddler to the doctor’s office. My big kid loves going there and it’s super easy these days. But I do remember when she told the nurse that she never eats fruits and vegetables during her kindergarten appointment. (Thanks for throwing me under the bus, kid!) And it wasn’t even true!

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