What to expect from postnatal health visitor check ups and other methods of measuring your baby's development.
Within approximately 10 days of your baby's birth a health visitor will take over from your midwife as your first port of call for any questions, problems or queries you have about adjusting to parenthood and the health and well being of your baby.
Your health visitor will be a qualified nurse or midwife who has undertaken extra training and initially, he or she will visit you at home. The purpose of health visitor checkups are to monitor the growth and development of your baby and to provide you with support and information - they are trained to give advice on anything from breastfeeding to child care.
The first home visit will usually take place when your baby is between 10 and 15 days old. During this check-up your health visitor will carry out a full examination of your newborn; details of which will be recorded in your baby's red book (Personal Child Heath Record). Your baby's weight, length, reflexes, motor skills, responses to light and sound and skin condition will all be checked. Additionally, your health visitor will talk to you about establishing your baby's feeding and sleeping routine and give you the opportunity to ask as many questions as you like.
After the initial newborn check-up, the next time your health visitor will make a home visit is for another development review when your baby is 6-8 weeks old. Between these home check-ups you will be asked to take your baby to be weighed on a regular basis - this will either be at your GP's surgery, local hospital or health clinic and will help you to monitor your baby's progress.
You should take your baby to be weighed once a week until they are 8 weeks old. If, at the 8 week home visit your health visitor is happy that your baby's growth and development are progressing properly, they may ask you to bring your baby to be weighed once every two weeks instead. This is likely to be reduced further as your baby establishes a good feeding and sleeping routine.
When your baby is approximately 8 months old your health visitor will carry out another home check-up. Further check-ups are normally carried out before your baby is 2, when your baby is between 3 and 3 1/2 years old and prior to your baby starting school when they are approximately 5.
Check-ups with your health visitor are as much for you as they are for your baby so you should not be afraid to ask for help if you are having problems or need advice or information.
Although you may be happy with your baby's development and weight gain it is really important to undertake regular check-ups with your heath visitor as they are trained to examine your baby fully and to spot any potential problems or ailments so that your baby can receive swift treatment. However, if at any time between check-ups you are concerned about the health, development or well-being of your child, you should make an appointment to see your GP.
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