Health and development


Health and development

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. Reviews may be done in your home, at the GP surgery, well baby clinic, or the children's centre.

Appointments can be arranged so that both you and your partner are there. The reviews are an opportunity for you both to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have.


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.


You can also add information to the red book yourself. You may want to record any illnesses or accidents your baby has, and details of any medicines they take.

You'll find it helpful to keep the developmental milestones section of the red book up-to-date and fill in the relevant questionnaires before each routine review.


What happens at your baby's reviews

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.

See how often your baby will be weighed.


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 (ideally at five 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.

See what the newborn hearing test involves.

Your midwife and health visitor will also support you with breastfeeding, caring for your new baby, and adjusting to life as new parents.


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 need 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.

You may be asked to fill in a short questionnaire to help your health visitor understand how your baby is developing.


One to three years

At 13 months your baby will have their next set of vaccinations. At ages two and three they will also be offered flu vaccinations (given as a nasal spray).

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, and may happen at your home, baby clinic, the children's centre, or at your child's nursery (if they are attending one).

They'll encourage you to talk about your child's progress and will help you with any concerns. You may be asked to fill in a short questionnaire about your baby's development.

It's best if both you and your partner are there. If your child attends an early years setting, such as a nursery or childminder, the review may be linked to your child's early years progress check at age two.

The review will cover:

general development, including movement, speech, social skills and behaviour, and hearing and vision

growth, healthy eating and keeping active

managing behaviour and encouraging good sleeping habits

tooth brushing and going to the dentist

keeping your child safe



Three years onwards

Your child will have another vaccination (sometimes called the "pre-school booster") between the age of three years four months and three years six months. They will also have another flu vaccination at the age of four.

Once your child reaches school age, the school nursing team and school staff will help support their health and development. They will work with you to make sure your child is offered the right vaccinations and health reviews.

The school nursing team can also give you advice and support on all aspects of your child's health and wellbeing, including emotional and social issues.