What To Expect From Your Baby's Initial Health Check

When you have a baby you will be invited to take them along to your health centre for a check-up when they are around six weeks old. Your doctor will carry out this initial health check and it consists of a few different components. Of course, if you have any concerns about your baby you don't have to wait until this six-week appointment to raise them.

Here's an overview of what to expect from your baby's initial health check. 

Your Baby's Physical Exam

Your doctor will give your baby a thorough physical exam that will include measuring their growth, listening to their heart and examining their eyes. Their abdomen will be examined for signs of a hernia and your doctor will gently manipulate your baby's arms and legs to check their joints. During the physical exam, your doctor will also ask you some questions to determine your baby's feeding and sleeping patterns. The goal of the physical exam is to establish whether or not all your baby's organs are healthy and to ensure they are meeting milestones for length and weight. 

Your Baby's Neurological Exam

During the neurological exam, your doctor will focus on your baby's social responsiveness and muscle tone. For social responsiveness, your doctor will look for signs your baby has started smiling and is able to track faces with their eyes. For muscle tone, your doctor will want to see your baby's limbs moving around freely, such as when they kick their legs, and they'll be looking for signs of dominance of movement in one side of your baby's body. Not meeting developmental markers for muscle tone can indicate your baby has an undiagnosed neuromuscular condition, and your doctor may refer them for further tests.

Parenting Questions

The initial health check appointment is also your opportunity to ask your doctor any questions you have about your baby's growth and development. You may be wondering, especially if you're a first-time parent, whether your baby feeding as well as they should be, crying too much or having too many dirty nappies. Don't worry about asking the questions that are on your mind, your doctor would rather every concern was addressed than miss a potential problem with your baby's health.

The initial health check appointment is not mandatory, but it allows a number of potential health problems to be spotted early. You should automatically receive an appointment, but you can contact your health centre to make one if your appointment letter doesn't arrive within the first few weeks after having your baby.  

Contact your local family health centre for more info.