You'll be invited to health and developmental milestone assessments at regular intervals at a family health care clinic until your child starts school, and the first health assessment takes place when your baby is six weeks old. The six week assessment is carried out by a GP and child health nurse and consists of a physical and neurological exam and an opportunity to discuss any concerns you have. The checks carried out at this appointment can allow health problems to be detected early and treated promptly. Here's an overview of what you can expect at the assessment:
Physical And Neurological Exam
The following checks will be carried out:
- Growth - Your baby's weight, length and head circumference will be checked to ensure they are within the normal range for their age.
- Hip Health - If their hip joints are not properly formed, your baby can develop hip dysplasia.
- Abdomen - Your baby's abdomen will be examined to ensure there's no weakness in the muscle wall that's allowed a hernia to develop.
- Heart - The doctor will listen to your baby's heart to ensure they don't have a murmur.
- Eyes - In additional to being checked for congenital cataracts, the doctor will get your baby to track an item, such as a rattle, with their eyes to ensure both eyes respond as expected.
- Neuromuscular - Observing the way your baby moves their limbs, and whether one side of their body moves differently than the other, can allow the doctor to determine if they could have a neuromuscular condition.
- Muscle Tone - By the time of the assessment, your baby's head and torso should be aligned.
- Social Responsiveness - Your baby should be able to track their main caregiver's face around a room and smile intentionally.
Questions And Concerns
You can ask the doctor and nurse any questions you have or raise concerns about a specific issue. You may want information about age-appropriate routines, immunisations and frequency and volume of feeds. When necessary, your doctor can refer you to a specialist for extra support. You will also be told when the well-baby clinic is held in your medical centre. You can take your baby to this clinic and have them weighed, which can help put your mind at ease if you've been worried your baby is either not growing fast enough or growing too fast for their age.
Your child health nurse will contact you with an appointment slot within a few weeks of your baby being born. However, if you have any queries or concerns before the appointment, don't hesitate to get in touch with them or your GP.