In their first 6 months your baby will have health and developmental checks:
- immediately after the birth
- during their first week at home with you
- 2 to 6 weeks after the birth
- at regular intervals up to 6 months
After your child is born
Healthcare professionals, such as your midwife, will check that all is well immediately after your child is born.
Your baby will get a newborn clinical examination within the first 3 days after birth.
A midwife will examine your baby daily during your hospital stay. Your midwife will ask about your baby’s feeding patterns and their wet and dirty nappies. They will check your baby for jaundice and will look at the umbilical cord area.
Your midwife, nurse or care assistant will give you advice on caring for your baby. They will tell you about bathing and nappy changing. Your midwife can also help you start breastfeeding.
Newborn clinical examination
Your baby should get a full newborn clinical examination within 72 hours of birth. This is carried out by a doctor or specialist midwife to spot any problems as early as possible so treatment can start.
If your baby was born in a hospital, the examination will usually happen before they go home. If you had a home birth provided by the HSE, your baby will be examined by your GP or at a maternity hospital.
Your baby will get all of the following as part of this clinical examination:
- eyes - shining a light into your baby’s eyes to detect clouding of the lens (cataracts)
- heart - your baby’s pulse and oxygen levels will be checked
- hips - gentle bends of your baby’s legs and hips to detect for dislocated hips - further tests might be necessary if your baby was breech (born bottom or legs first) or your family had childhood hip problems
- testicles - checking testicles are in the right place if your baby was born a boy
- hearing screening test - tests for echoes in your baby’s inner ear by using a soft earpiece (if your baby was born at home your community midwife will refer them for hearing screening)
The midwife or doctor may also ask you about:
- your pregnancy, the birth and any health problems you may have
- health problems in your family
- any concerns you have about your baby
During the first week
You will usually get a home visit from your public health nurse (PHN) during your first 3 days at home with your baby. They are there to support you and your family, and do certain checks on your baby.
If you are on a Domino scheme (midwife-led antenatal care), your first home visits will be from a midwife. They will then hand over your care to your PHN.
Your community midwife will notify the PHN if you had a home birth provided by the HSE. The PHN will visit you after you are discharged from your midwife's care.
Your first visit from a public health nurse (PHN)
Your PHN will usually:
- weigh and examine your baby
- carry out a neonatal examination (examination of your newborn baby)
- carry out a maternal health assessment (a check-up for you)
- provide support and information on parenting and on local resources
They can also:
- give advice on feeding and safe sleep for your baby
- give general tips about child safety
- answer your questions
Your PHN will continue to see you and your baby at intervals over the next 4 years.
Heel prick test
During your baby's first week, you will be offered newborn bloodspot screening. This is known as the 'heel prick test'.
You will be asked for your consent. It usually takes place in your home. However, if you remain in hospital longer than 72 hours after the birth of your baby, it may take place in the hospital.
Your baby will be screened to see if they are at risk of a number of rare conditions. This is so treatment can be given as soon as possible.
You will be referred to a healthcare team if your baby is at risk of having one of these conditions.
Contact your public health nurse if you wish to find out the result of your baby's test. A repeat sample may sometimes be needed if the results are unclear.
2 to 6 weeks after birth
Your baby will also visit the GP at 2 weeks and 6 weeks of age.
As your baby grows, regular check-ups will let you know if your baby is developing and growing at a healthy pace.
Watch a video on your baby's 2 to 6 week check-up
You should make an appointment to visit your GP 2 weeks after the birth to check how your baby is developing.
Your GP or the GP practice nurse will talk to you about you and your baby’s wellbeing.
They will usually:
- weigh your baby
- discuss your birth experience and how you feel
They might also:
- ask how your baby is feeding and how alert they are
- discuss vaccines and schedule them for future dates
Make an appointment with your GP for the 6 week check. Both your health and your baby's health are checked during the same appointment. The mother's check is called the postnatal check-up.
If you had private antenatal care, your postnatal check-up will be done in the maternity hospital by your consultant.
Your GP will:
- examine your baby and check on their hips, heart and eyes
- ask if your baby has had their 'heel prick' and their hearing test
- check your baby’s testicles if they were born a boy - if your GP can’t feel both testicles they will check again at 6 months of age
Tell your GP if:
- you were told in hospital that your baby needed a hip ultrasound
- you have not got an appointment by 6 weeks
Your GP will give you advice on feeding, weaning, keeping your baby safe and vaccines.
Up to 6 months old
Go to your GP or GP practice nurse for your baby's first visit for vaccines. You will be posted a letter about your child's vaccination schedule.
The public health nurse will organise a 3-month developmental assessment for your baby. This will take place in the health centre.
Check with your public health nurse (PHN) about 'well baby' clinics near you. You can have your baby weighed and discuss their progress at these clinics.
During this visit your PHN will do the following development checks:
- a head to toe physical examination including eyes, ears, genitalia, limbs, breathing and fontanelles (the soft spot on your baby’s head)
- weighing and measuring
- check testicles to make sure they have moved down into the scrotum (this is called testicular descent) if your baby was born a boy
- responses, including your baby’s alertness, if they smile and other facial interactions
- posture and large movements (also called 'gross motor skills’), for example arms and legs co-ordination, how your baby holds their body and if your baby can hold their head erect for several seconds
- how your baby uses their hands, including if they respond to finger play and they watch hands - both their own and the nurse’s
- fine movements (also called 'fine motor skills') - use of small muscles like the muscles in the hands and fingers, for example if your baby will hold a rattle
The PHN will talk to you about:
- feeding your baby and give you advice about weaning
- child safety and give you a copy of the child safety wall chart and check-list
- your health and any issues you wish to discuss
Go to your GP or GP practice nurse for your baby’s second visit for vaccines.