Health Visitor Checks - What to Know About Your Baby’s Reviews

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 health visiting team, in close collaboration with your GP and local children’s centre, will usually conduct the reviews. During these appointments, you can discuss your child and family, ask questions, and receive help and information for the future. Read on to learn more about what a health visitor does and when they visit.

What Does a Health Visitor Do?

What is a health visitor and what do they do? Health visitors play a crucial role in the healthcare sector. They are registered nurses or midwives who have undergone additional training in community public health. Their work primarily centres around promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness, especially in children and families. 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.


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The Role of a Health Visitor

Health visitors generally offer you support and expert advice during your pregnancy, and after your baby is born until they’re about two and a half years old. They provide guidance on many aspects like feeding, safety, and growth and development of your child. Here are some things your health visitor can help and advise you on:

  • Feeding advice. Your health visitor can provide advice on feeding your baby and their nutritional needs, helping you understand what foods to introduce at various stages of their development.

  • Immunisation guidance. They can guide you through the necessary immunisations your child needs, explaining their importance and the schedule to follow.

  • Sleep routines. Health visitors can offer insights into your baby’s sleep patterns and provide strategies to institute a consistent sleep routine and safe sleep for your baby, including bedtime routines and how to reduce SIDs (sudden infant death syndrome).

  • Developmental milestones. They can also help you understand various developmental milestones for your baby and check their growth and development are on track.

  • Safety tips. Your health visitor can provide tips on how to childproof your home and ensure your baby’s safety.

  • Emotional support. They’re there to provide emotional support during the challenging times of early parenthood and can offer strategies for coping with stress and anxiety.

  • Detecting issues early. Health visitors can identify early signs of postpartum depression or developmental delays, ensuring prompt treatment or intervention.

Red Book: The Personal Child Health Record

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.

When Do Health Visitors Visit?

Health visitors usually start their routine visits soon after the birth of a child. The frequency and timing of visits may vary depending on your family’s needs and circumstances, but they generally conduct an initial new birth visit within 10 to 14 days after birth. Further visits are planned around key developmental stages. Remember, they’re always there to offer advice and support whenever needed. The section below outlines the ages your baby will likely have their reviews from a health visitor and what to expect from the first and subsequent health visits.

Health Visitors Appointments and Schedule

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. So, keep reading to discover what a health visitor does on their first visit and throughout your baby’s early years.

Shortly After Birth

After your baby is born, they will be weighed to determine their birth weight. During the first week after birth, another weight check will be conducted. Additionally, your baby will undergo a thorough physical examination within 72 hours of being born. During this examination, a medical professional will inspect your baby's eyes, heart, hips, and (if your baby is a boy) testes. At five to eight days your baby will have a blood spot (heel prick) test, which screens for several rare diseases, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. The midwife usually does this. 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.

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 or bottle-feeding, depending on what option you’ve chosen.

Six to Eight Weeks

Your baby will have a thorough 6 to 8-week check, usually performed by your baby’s GP. Their 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 well-being since the birth of your baby.

Nine Months to One Year

From nine months to one year, your baby should be offered another review looking at several baby development 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.

One to Three Years

At 13 months your baby will be offered their next set of vaccinations. At two to two-and-a-half, they will have another toddler health and development review. A nursery nurse or the health visitor usually does this. They'll encourage you to talk about your child's progress and will help you with any concerns, such as your little one’s eating habits, physical activity, sleep, and toothbrushing. Using the Smart Sleep Coach app by Pampers to track your baby’s naptime and nighttime sleeping can be a huge help when discussing your baby’s health and development with their health visitor. By taking a broad view of your baby’s sleep, you can understand and shape your baby’s sleep and give them the rest they need to keep growing and developing well.

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Benefits of the Health Visits

Health visits play a pivotal role in ensuring the all-round development of your baby. Based on the recommendations of experts, here are some of the benefits:

  • Early detection. Regular health visits can help in the early detection of any health issues or developmental delays in your baby, ensuring that your little one gets the care they need.

  • Growth and development monitoring. Health visitors monitor your baby’s growth and development, ensuring they’re meeting age-appropriate milestones and providing advice or support if there are any concerns.

  • Immunisation tracking. Health visitors ensure that your baby’s immunisations are up to date.

  • Nutritional advice. Through their expert advice, health visitors ensure your baby is receiving the appropriate nutrition for their developmental needs, promoting healthy growth and development for now and the future.

  • Parenting support and education: Health visits not only benefit the baby but also the parents. Health visitors provide vital education and support to help you understand your baby’s needs and how to take care of them.

Remember, regular health visits are an important part of giving your baby the best start in life, as well as helping you and your family, and supporting your mental health as a new parent. Don't hesitate to reach out to your health visitor if you have any questions or concerns.

How to Make the Most of the Health Visits

Ensuring you maximise the benefits of your child’s routine health checks may be helpful. Here are some tips:

  1. Scheduling. If feasible, arrange the check-up when your child is likely to be well-fed and rested, and at a time when you aren’t under time pressure. Also, bear in mind how busy your child’s health visitor may be. The first appointment of the day, or one outside peak hours, may be easier.

  2. Parental Presence. If you have a parenting partner, it may be beneficial if you can both attend the initial few visits to familiarise yourselves with the health visitor and receive consistent information about newborn care.

  3. Maintain a Record. Your red book is the perfect place for you and your health visitor to keep a log of each health check for your baby and any other information you want to add, such as accidents or illnesses.

  4. Dress Your Baby Appropriately. Dress your baby in clothes that are easy to remove and put back on. Your child may need to be partially undressed during the visit, and easy access may be required for vaccinations.

  5. Pen Down Your Queries. Write down any questions you have beforehand and bring the list along so you don’t forget anything crucial. A prepared list also helps you concentrate on the responses rather than contemplating the next question.


According to GOV.UK, health visitor checks are now mandatory, and you’ll be offered five health visits before your child reaches 2 and a half years old. Health visitor visits are designed to support and guide you in the early stages of parenthood, monitor your baby’s health and development, and identify any potential issues early. They are a valuable resource provided to ensure your baby's well-being.

The Bottom Line

Health visitor checks are an invaluable resource for parents in the U.K., aiding in the optimal growth and development of your baby. They offer expert advice on nutrition, monitor your baby’s milestones, and keep immunisations on track, all while providing support and education to parents. These visits are highly recommended and play a crucial role in early parenthood. Embrace these visits as an opportunity to enhance your understanding of your little one’s needs and milestones. After all, each child is unique, and having professional guidance as you navigate the path of parenthood can be an immense reassurance. How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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