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Ask the Expert: Choosing a pediatrician, well water, kids’ shots

Upstate Parent gets answers to those health and wellness questions you’ve always wanted to ask. Here’s your chance to Ask the Expert. You ask us, and we ask local experts to weigh in with some answers. Have a burning question? Let us know! This month’s questions are answered by several local experts. Have a burning question? Let us know! Remember that these answers are the opinions of these specific experts and not intended as medical advice. Always consult your personal doctor about your health.

Q: What should I ask when choosing a pediatrician?

A: It is never too early to start looking for a pediatrician — especially if you’re pregnant. It’s good to already have a pediatrician in mind so you have a physician to go to the first time your baby gets sick. You can start by asking your friends and neighbors which doctors their children visit. Your OB/GYN also may have some suggestions. When you’re selecting, make sure your pediatrician is board certified and double check what age range he cares for.

Once you have narrowed down doctors, schedule a new patient appointment to learn more — even if you are pregnant. Learn their background, their pediatric interests, voice your concerns about your child and learn how they handle questions. Doctors know being a parent can be scary at times, especially when your baby is sick, so we want parents to feel comfortable.

— Dr. Donna Smith, Medical Group of the Carolinas – Pediatrics – Westside

Q: Any ideas on making shots less scary?

A: We all have experienced someone who is less than excited to get a shot. It’s hard to communicate to a little one that the shot will keep them healthy and strong when they are expecting pain. Through my experiences, if your child asks if they are going to get a shot, be truthful. Don’t lie that you are going somewhere other than the doctor’s office. If they ask if it will hurt, again be truthful, but let them know that it will only hurt for a tiny second.

When the child is getting a shot, it’s OK to distract them with something else like singing a song or playing a simple game. However, once your child starts crying, stepping back and letting the doctor or nurse do their thing is best. When the child is crying, they expect mom or dad to save them and stop the shot. While not mandatory, having a reward ready may bring smiles soon after the tears.

— Dr. Donna Smith, Medical Group of the Carolinas – Pediatrics – Westside

Q: Should I filter well water?

A: Private well water should be tested yearly. Children are more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses than adults, especially newborns. Private wells don’t undergo federal inspection, so the well owner is responsible for their own inspection to make sure it is not contaminated by chemicals or other harmful organisms. If you are concerned about your well, have it tested and filter your child’s water in the meantime.

— Dr. Jack Cleland, Medical Group of the Carolinas – Pediatrics – North Grove

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