The Healthy Child Programme is designed to offer every family support in making healthy choices. It includes immunisations, health information, developmental reviews, and access to a range of community services and resources.
Pregnancy and the first five years of life are one of the most important stages in life, as this is when the foundations of future health and wellbeing are laid down. The Healthy Child Programme is delivered and supported by Health Visiting teams during this phase.
The Healthy Child Progamme continues to be delivered and supported by School Nursing teams once your child starts school.
If you have any worries about your baby’s or toddler’s development talk to your health visitor, even if it is some time since the last regular visit, or some time since you’ve been to a clinic. Health visitors can come to your home to talk through any concerns you have and can put you in touch with the people who can help if there are problems.
What can I expect from my health visiting team?
There are key times which you can expect to have contact from your health visiting team. This universal service offered to every family includes:
Health Visitors work in partnership with midwives and aim to visit you after the 28th week of pregnancy. This will give you an opportunity to discuss your pregnancy, your health and wellbeing and your ideas about your baby and plans for after your baby is born.
Health Visitors will introduce to you the Healthy Child Programme and tell you about your local services and Children’s Centre.
At this contact Health Visitors can give you information about how you can keep you and your baby safe and well, including information about diet, vitamin supplements, smoking cessation, maternal mental health, and baby’s sleeping position. They will also discuss the benefits of breastfeeding, helping you prepare, and have an informed choice, in feeding your baby.
Around 14 days after your baby's birth, your health visitor will arrange a face-to-face visit usually in your own home. During this visit, your health visitor can help support you with breastfeeding and safe formula feeding, and offer guidance on the reality of the early days with your baby, such as sleep and safety.
Your health visitor will discuss ways to help strengthen and support your warm and loving relationship with your baby. This may include skin to skin contact to promote closeness and enjoying playing, talking and singing activities with your baby.
Your health visitor will check your baby has had a hearing and newborn bloodspot screen and is growing and developing and will also talk about your own health and wellbeing.
Following the birth of a baby some women can experience feeling low and emotional. This can occur between 4-12 days after childbirth and is often mild and perfectly normal.
Postnatal depression symptoms can occur within the first year of having had your baby and affects between one and four in every 10 women. Symptoms include low mood, feeling emotional and tearful, anxious, and loss of enjoyment in activities that you previously enjoyed.
If you feel you have symptoms of postnatal depression then you may need help from your Health Visitor or GP.
Your health visitor will sensitively discuss your emotional health and wellbeing with you between 6-8 weeks. They will be able to organise extra support for you if you need it. Best Beginnings has several videos relating to maternal mental health.
Within your locality there are child health clinics that you can attend and be able to see a member of the health visiting team. Within the team there are Health Visitors, Community Staff Nurses and Community Nursery Nurses.
With these staff you will be able to discuss any aspect of your child's growth and development or family's health and well-being.
Within the clinic there is the opportunity to have your child weighed. The World Health Organisation suggests that healthy babies are weighed:
|Age||No More Than|
|2 weeks to 6 months||Once a month|
|6-12 months||Once every 2 months|
When your baby is between 9 and 12 months old, your health visiting team may invite you and your baby to an appointment to discuss their physical, emotional and social development. An 'Ages and Stages' questionnaire will be provided to help you and your health visitor understand how your baby is developing.
Your health visiting team will check your child's growth and offer practical support with regards to healthy eating, healthy sleep practices, dental health, immunizations, play and communication activities.
When your child is between 2 years and 2.5 years, your health visiting team will invite you and your child to an appointment to discuss their physical, emotional and social development. And 'Ages and Stages' questionnaire will be provided to help you and your health visitor understand how your child is developing.
Your child's growth, development and immunizations will also be reviewed, and the team can talk through any concerns you have about your child's health and wellbeing.
The Health Visiting Team can give information on healthy eating, including portion size and mealtime routines. They can also give guidance on behaviour, physical activity and toilet training. they can give information on promoting language development, dental care, participating in groups and interactive activities for your child.
Thank-you to Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust for providing this information - www.southernhealth.nhs.uk