Health screenings for your babyView all services
|One of the best ways to protect your baby against diseases like measles, rubella, tetanus and meningitis is through immunisation. Your baby needs their first injections at eight weeks, then 12 weeks, 16 weeks and one year.|
When your baby is born, your midwife will carry out an initial physical examination to check that there are no major problems that need urgent attention. Within 72 hours of birth, another more detailed examination will be carried out. This may be done by a midwife or paediatrician whilst you are in hospital or once you have gone home.
When your baby is 5 days old your midwife will ask to take a sample of blood from your baby’s heel. This is to carry out a routine test to find out if your baby has any of 9 rare but serious health conditions. Early treatment can improve your baby’s health and prevent severe disability or even death. If you, the baby’s father, or a family member already has one of these conditions, please tell your health professional straight away. The conditions screened for are: Sickle cell disease, Cystic fibrosis, congenital hypothyroidism and 6 inherited metabolic diseases – you can read more about these in the screening booklet 'Screening tests for you and your baby'.
Steady weight gain is one of the signs that your baby is healthy and feeding well.
It's normal for babies to lose some weight in the first few days after birth.
Your baby will be weighed during their first 2 weeks to make sure they're regaining their birthweight. Most babies are at, or above, their birthweight by 2 weeks.
A midwife or health visitor will support you if your baby loses a large amount of weight or does not regain their birthweight by 2 weeks.
They'll talk to you about how feeding is going, possibly ask to observe a feed if you're breastfeeding, and look at your baby's health in general.
How often should my baby be weighed?
After the first 2 weeks, your baby should be weighed:
- no more than once a month up to 6 months of age
- no more than once every 2 months from 6 to 12 months of age
- no more than once every 3 months over the age of 1
Your baby will usually only be weighed more often than this if you ask for it or if there are concerns about their health or growth.
Your baby's length may also be measured at some of their developmental reviews.
Understanding your baby's weight chart
Your child's growth will be recorded on centile charts in their personal child health record (PCHR), or red book.
These charts show the pattern of growth healthy children usually follow, whether they're breastfed or formula fed, or having a mixture of both.
Visit the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health website to see some examples of baby weight charts.
Boys and girls have different charts because boys tend to be a little heavier and taller, and their growth pattern is slightly different.
What the centile lines mean
The curved lines on the charts are called centile lines. These show the average weight and height gain for babies of different ages.
Your baby's weight and height may not follow a centile line exactly. Their measurements may go up or down by 1 centile line, but it's less common for them to cross 2 centile lines. If this happens, talk to a health visitor, who can advise you.
It's normal for your baby to be on different centiles for weight and length, but the 2 are usually fairly similar.
All babies are different, and your baby's growth chart will not look exactly the same as another baby's, even their own brother or sister.
Your baby's weight gain
Usually your baby will gain weight most rapidly in the first 6 to 9 months. Their rate of growth will gradually slow down as they become a toddler and are more active.
If your baby or toddler is ill, their weight gain may slow down for a while. It will usually return to normal within 2 to 3 weeks.
Your toddler's weight and height
Your child's height after the age of 2 gives some indication of how tall they will be when they grow up. If you like, you can use the adult height predictor in your baby's red book to work it out.
Once your child gets to the age of 2, a health visitor may use their weight and height to calculate their body mass index (BMI) and plot it on a centile chart. This is a way of checking whether your child's weight is in the healthy range or not.
If they're overweight or underweight, a health visitor can give you advice about your child's diet and physical activity levels.
You can also use our BMI calculator to check your child's BMI (as long as they are 2 years old or over).
For more information about your baby or toddler's weight or height, talk to a health visitor or GP.
Pulse Oximetry is a simple test to determine the amount of oxygen in your baby's blood, it is safe, quick and painless screening which can help detect serious heart conditions, saving lives through early detection.
From 1st July 2015 all babies born at Liverpool Women's Hospital will be offered the pulse oximetry test before they go home, or at home if born there with the midwife. Further information will be given to you by your midwife and the test will not be carried out without your consent
This screening is offered to all babies from birth and is to identify babies who have a hearing loss so that support and advice can be offered right from the start preventing long term developmental and speech problems.
Why you should get your free Healthy Start vitamins
Young children may not get enough vitamin A and D even if they’re eating well. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you may not get enough vitamin C, vitamin D or folic acid.
Get these important vitamins for free by using your NHS Healthy Start card. You can get NHS Healthy Start women’s tablets and children’s drops.
They do not contain milk, egg, gluten, soya or peanut residues. They’re suitable for vegetarians and halal diets.
You can get the vitamin tablets while you are pregnant and up to your baby’s first birthday. They contain:
- folic acid which lowers the chance of babies having spinal problems
- vitamin C which helps the body’s soft tissue
- vitamin D which helps babies’ bones to develop properly
Children can take vitamin drops if they:
- are less than 4 years old
- have less than 500ml (about one pint) of infant formula a day, as formula already has vitamins added to it
Healthy Start vitamins come as an 8-week supply of:
- 56 tablets (a daily dose of 1 tablet)
- 280 drops (a daily dose of 5 drops)
You or your children should not take more than the recommended amount.
How to get free vitamins
Ask your midwife, local Children's Centre or health visitor where to get your free vitamins.
You’ll need to show your NHS Healthy Start card when you collect your free vitamins.