Visiting your doctor and what to expect

Your baby will have regular health and development reviews during their early years. These are to make sure they stay healthy and are developing normally. The reviews will usually be done by your health visitor or a member of the health visiting team. The team work closely with your GP and the staff at your local children's centre.

These appointments are the perfect time for you to raise questions and issues about your child and your family and to get help and information about what's ahead.

During your baby's reviews, your health visitor will discuss your baby's progress and ask if you have any concerns. If your baby was born prematurely, their developmental age will be calculated from your original due date, not from the actual date they were born, until they are two years old.

Your baby will be weighed regularly, but health professionals will want to avoid weighing them too often. This is because babies' weight gain can vary from week to week. Leaving a few weeks between weigh-ins gives a clearer idea of their progress.

The personal child health record (red book) Shortly before or after your baby is born, you'll be given a personal child health record (PCHR). This usually has a red cover and is often called the "red book". It's a handy way for you to keep track of your child's health and progress, and can be shared with their health professionals. It's a good idea to take your baby's red book with you every time you visit the baby clinic, your GP, or hospital. Your baby's health professionals will use it to record your child's weight and height, vaccinations, and other important health information.

When your baby will have their reviews

Your baby will usually have reviews at the ages outlined below. If you have any concerns at other times, contact your health visitor or GP, or go to your local baby clinic.

Shortly after birth

Your baby will be weighed at birth and again during their first week. They will also have a thorough physical examination within 72 hours of being born. A medical professional will usually check your baby's eyes, heart, hips, and (for baby boys) testes. At five to eight days your baby will have a blood spot (heel prick) test, which screens for a number of rare diseases, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. This is usually done by the midwife. Your baby will have a hearing test soon after birth. If you have your baby in hospital, this may be done before you leave. Otherwise, it will be done some time in the first few weeks at the hearing centre in your local hospital.

One to two weeks

Your health visitor will carry out a new baby review with you and your partner within 10 to 14 days of their birth. They'll work with you on becoming parents and how to keep your baby safe and healthy. You and your partner will also be offered support with breastfeeding if you have chosen to do it.

Six weeks to eight weeks

Your baby will be invited for a thorough physical examination. This is usually done by your GP. Your baby's eyes, heart, hips, and (for boys) testicles will be checked. They will also have their weight, length and head circumference measured. Your GP or health visitor will discuss your baby's vaccinations with you. In the first year these are offered at two, three and four months. The health visitor will also talk to you about your emotional wellbeing since the birth of your baby.

Nine months to one year

During this time, your baby should be offered another review looking at several areas, including language and learning, safety, diet, and behaviour. This is usually done by the health visitor or a member of the health visiting team, and is an opportunity for you and your partner to discuss any concerns you may have.

One to three years

At 13 months your baby will be offered their next set of vaccinations. At two to two-and-a-half they will have another health and development review. This is usually done by a nursery nurse or the health visitor They'll encourage you to talk about your child's progress and will help you with any concerns.

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