Baby health checks, sometimes called well-baby examinations, are an important way to monitor your baby’s growth and development and promptly identify any issues or areas of concern. Routine checks also provide an opportunity to have questions about your baby’s health and development answered, and help your practitioner develop a rapport with you and your baby. Baby checks can help you make informed choices about parenting issues and your baby’s health care.
If your baby was born in a hospital, your doctor or midwife will likely recommend the first baby health check shortly after discharge from hospital. If your baby was born at home under the care of a Private Midwife, he or she will likely have already explained the schedule of baby health checks they will conduct as part of your antenatal care. In either case, additional examinations generally occur every two to four months.
A baby health check generally begins with measurements of your baby's length, weight and head circumference. Your practitioner will usually ask you to take your baby’s clothes off in order to ensure accurate measurements. These measurements are plotted on a growth chart to determine how your baby’s size compares to their age-related peers, as well as to observe your baby’s growth over time. What’s most important here is that your baby shows steady growth, rather than which percentile they are in. Some baby growth charts are based on bottle fed babies making it difficult to accurately gauge the usual growth of a breastfeed baby. The World Health Organisation has developed baby growth charts based on breastfeeding babies. You can download the girls growth record and boys growth record to compare your breastfed baby’s growth against accurate charts.
Next your practitioner will perform a thorough head-to-toe physical exam. This generally includes:
Your practitioner will also ask questions to determine your baby’s motor skills and development. Depending on your baby's age, these questions may explore:
Baby health checks can be stressful for young babies. Being naked and handled by a stranger in a strange environment can leave babies feeling highly vulnerable. It is important to stay close to your baby, maintain eye contact and speak gently and reassuringly during the examination. Don’t be afraid to temporarily stop the examination to cuddle and reassure your baby if they are becoming highly distressed. This supports and respects your baby’s emotional development and assists them to develop trust in you and your practitioner.
Your practitioner’s response to this distress is a good gauge of their understanding, respect and compassion for infants. Ideally your practitioner should identify this distress and work to support your infant to feel more secure.
Baby health checks can be performed by Private midwives, General Practitioners, Government-run baby health centres, private clinics or Paediatricians. Your choice of provider may be based on a range of factors, including reputation, location, cost and opportunity for government rebates.
Choosing a practitioner to complete your baby’s health checks is just as important as choosing a practitioner for yourself and should largely be based on the same reasons. Beyond the logistic and financial issues mentioned above, when selecting a practitioner consider questions like:
The PBB Health Centre, located in North Parramatta NSW, offers drop-in early childhood clinics staffed by two Registered Nurse/Midwives who can conduct your baby health checks.
Held on Monday to Thursday 9am to 2pm, the PBB Health Centre drop-in clinics provide the opportunity for regular check-ups which track your baby’s growth and development and assist in the early identification of issues. Skilled in child development, our staff can also provide you with hints and tips to support your baby’s achievement of developmental milestones, as well as referrals to additional services if required.
Within a supportive environment our highly experienced and compassionate staff can also assist you to address feeding and sleeping issues. This includes providing advice on breastfeeding, introducing solids, baby nutrition, responding to fussy eaters, and introducing gentle sleep strategies, that respects your individual needs and those of your baby and family.
Avoiding the need for appointments, our drop-in centres enable you the freedom to decide on the day when or whether to attend, allowing you to better accommodate sleeping and feeding routines as well as those days that just don’t start out well. In addition, our clinics provide the opportunity to meet other parents of young children and share useful advice.
For more information visit www.pbbhealthcentre.com.au or call 02 9890 7755.