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Health checks

health; check; personal; record; vision; hearing; growth; development; developmental; screening; PHR;

Regular health and development checks are recommended for all babies and young children to see that they are growing and developing normally, and to find health problems so that they can be treated early.

Contents

These checks are recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) at:

  • Birth
  • 1-4 weeks (at the first visit, which is offered at home or in the clinic by your child and family health nurse)
  • 6 weeks – at your family doctor
  • 6-9 months
  • 18-24 months
  • 3 years
  • 4 years (pre-school)

In South Australia the first check will be done shortly after birth, and the others can be done by your family doctor or by a child and family health nurse (Child and Family Health Service).

  • To make an appointment with a C&FHS nurse call 1300 733 606 Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30 pm.

These regular visits to your doctor or child and family health nurse give you a time to talk about caring for your child, and your child's health and progress. Visits at other times may focus on problems, leaving little time for talking about more general concerns.

In each state and territory in Australia the questions asked and the things checked may vary slightly, but generally they will be very similar. The information given below includes the questions asked and the checks done in South Australia.

Child Health and Development Record (CHDR)

Each baby born in Australia will have a Child Health and Development Record.

In South Australia this is called 'My Health and Development Record' or the 'Blue Book'.

It is given to the parents at the time of the child's birth. In this book are special pages for recording the health checks, and also some questions to think about before the health check. There will also be some information about the things that will be checked at the visit. These could include weight, length or height, head circumference, vision, hearing, hips and development. Boys will also have a check to see that their testes are in the usual position.

Parents should take the CHDR with them every time they visit a doctor, child health clinic or hospital and ask that the visit be recorded in the book.

The first check - after birth in hospital

At the time of your baby's birth, your baby will be checked by your doctor in hospital to find any health problems that may be present.

In your baby's Child Health and Development Record the doctor or midwife will write information about:

  • The pregnancy and birth, and about how healthy your baby was in the first few minutes, hours and days
  • Any treatment that your baby needed
  • Your baby's birth weight, length and head circumference
  • What was found when your baby had the health check done by a doctor.

Other things that will be recorded:

  • Vitamin K (which helps prevent a bleeding problem) - this will usually be given on the first day.
  • It is recommended that the first Hepatitis B immunisation is given within 24 hours of birth, and this will be recorded. 
  • The Neonatal Screening test (also known as the heelprick test or the Guthrie test) will be done when your baby is about 48 hours old
  • The Newborn Hearing Screening will be done within a few days after birth.

For more information – 'My Health and Development Record'  Section 1

1 to 4 weeks check

At this visit your doctor or child and family health nurse will check your baby's health, and weight and measure your baby. This visit can be used to discuss any concerns you have about your baby's health, growth and development. This check is often offered at a home visit, but can also be done at the local clinic.

  • It is also a good time to talk about feeding, helping your baby to settle and looking after your baby.
  • You can also talk about how you are feeling and any worries you have about your own health.
  • If you want to you can just focus on the baby during this visit, but you can also talk about yourself and being a parent.

Your doctor or nurse will have some questions for you. These could include:

  • Do you have any concerns about your baby?
  • How was the birth?
  • Has your baby had the Universal Neonatal Hearing screen; are there any concerns?
  • How do you feel now that your baby is here?
  • How is your baby feeding?
  • What health problems has your infant had since birth?
  • What health problems do you or others in the family have that could affect your baby?
  • Has anyone in the family had a hip problem as a baby?
  • Has your baby had the birth dose of Hepatitis B Vaccine?
  • What are your plans for having your baby immunised?
  • Has your baby had the Vitamin K injection in hospital?

Remember, you can ask questions too - perhaps you could write them down in your baby's CHDR to remind you when you go for the health check.

For more information

6 week health check

This check is often done by your family doctor, but can be done by your child and family health nurse. At this visit your doctor or nurse will check your baby's health, and weight and measure your baby. The visit can also be used to discuss any concerns you have about your baby's health, growth and development. It will also be a good time to talk about feeding, settling and looking after your baby. Many babies cry a lot at this age, and you could talk about how you are managing.

Your nurse or doctor will have some questions for you. These could include:

  • Do you have any concerns about your baby?
  • How was the birth?
  • Has your baby had the Universal Neonatal Hearing screen? Are there any concerns?
  • How do you feel now that your baby is here?
  • How is your baby feeding?
  • What health problems has your infant had since birth?
  • What health problems do you or others in the family have that could affect your baby?
  • Has anyone in the family had a hip problem as a baby?
  • Has your baby had the birth dose of Hepatitis B Vaccine?
  • What are your plans for having your baby immunised?
  • Has your baby had the Vitamin K injection in hospital?

Remember to have your questions ready too.

For more information

6 - 9 month check

The 6-9 month health check includes

  • A check of your baby's development using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. You will be sent a questionnaire  when you make an appointment and asked to see if your child has completed the activities for his or her age on the questionnaire.  The nurse will score and discuss the results with you at the appointment for the health check.
  • Physical check of your baby

Questions that your nurse or doctor may ask include:

  • How is your baby feeding?
  • How is your baby sleeping?
  • How are you finding parenting?
  • Immunisation status

As well you might like to talk about

  • food and drinks for babies, starting solids
  • sleep patterns
  • playing with babies
  • keeping babies safe when they start to move and crawl
  • helping babies learn to talk
  • caring for teeth
  • sun protection

For more information

18 to 24 month check

The 18 to 24 month health check includes:

  • A check of your baby's development using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. You will be sent a questionnaire when you make an appointment and asked to see if your child has completed the activities for his or her age on the questionnaire.  The nurse will score and discuss the results with you at the appointment for the health check.
  • Physical check of your baby

Your doctor or nurse may ask questions about:

  • How your is toddler eating
  • How your toddler is sleeping
  • How you are finding parenting
  • Immunisation status

At this health check you may like to discuss:

  • behaviour, including separation anxiety
  • keeping children safe at home and while out
  • playing with children
  • toilet training
  • discipline
  • child care and play groups.

For more information

3 year check

This check is usually done by your family doctor, but can be done by your child and family health nurse. Your doctor will check your child's physical health, growth and development.

Your doctor may ask you questions about:

  • How you are finding parenting
  • Any concerns you have about your child’s health
  • Immunisation status
  • Any concerns about your child’s eating and sleeping
  • Any hearing issues
  • Any concerns about your child’s vision

For more information

4 year (preschool) check

A check of growth, hearing and vision is important before starting school. This health check is usually done in your child's pre-school centre and will be arranged by the pre-school centre.

The nurse will ask whether you have concerns about the health and development of your child. You might like to talk about safety, play, relationships, discipline, care of teeth and starting school.

It is recommended that all children have their next lot of immunisations at 4 years. Your child might already have had these immunisations but if not you can discuss this with the nurse.

For more information

Resources

South Australia

  • You can make appointments to see a Child and Family Health nurse for a health check by ringing 1300 733 606 (9am - 4.30pm, Monday to Friday).

Pregnancy, birth and baby 
http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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