When will my newborn baby's health be checked?

When your baby is born, the midwife or health visitor will carry out some initial checks. You will then be offered two more detailed physical examinations for your baby, the first within 72 hours of your baby's birth and the second at six to eight weeks old.

Your baby will experience a lot of physical changes in the first two months of life, which is why the more detailed examination is repeated at six to eight weeks.

The examinations aim to:

  • check that your baby is healthy
  • identify any problems or conditions that may need monitoring, further investigation or treatment  

What will my baby's examinations include?

Your baby's examinations will include a general physical examination in the first six to eight weeks. This involves four specific screening examinations to check your baby's:

  • eyes
  • heart 
  • hips 
  • for baby boys, their testes (testicles)

The examinations check for some specific health conditions, including:

  • eye abnormalities, such as congenital cataracts and retinoblastoma (a rare childhood eye cancer) 
  • congenital heart disease
  • congenital dislocated hip (CDH) and developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) 
  • delayed descent of boys' testes (undescended testes)

Congenital means that a condition is present from birth.

At five to eight days a newborn bloodspot will be carried out. This is a heel-prick blood test for phenylketonuria, congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disorders. In some areas, the test also includes MCADD, a metabolic disorder.

The UK National Screening Committee have also recommended that every newborn baby be screened for Homocystinuria, Maple syrup urine disease, Glutaric aciduria type 1 and Isovaleric acidaemia. You can find more information about these conditions on the NHS Newborn Blood Spot Screening Programme website.

Who will do my baby's physical examinations?

A healthcare professional trained in the examination of newborns will perform the examinations while your baby is calm and settled.

If you give birth in hospital, the first examination is usually done by a healthcare professional such as a midwife, a nurse or a doctor in the maternity unit before you go home.

If you give birth at home or leave the maternity unit soon after delivery, your baby's first examination may be done:

  • in a community clinic or Children's Centre
  • at your GP practice
  • at home

Your baby's second examination at six to eight weeks old will probably be done at your GP practice by:

  • your GP
  • your health visitor
  • a paediatrician

Before your baby's physical examinations, the healthcare professional will describe what they are going to do and ask for your consent. Don't be afraid to ask questions before and during the examination.

Afterwards, the healthcare professional will record the outcome of both examinations in your baby's personal child health record (red book). The outcome of the first examination will also be recorded in your maternity notes. 

Will my baby have any other health checks?

Your baby's physical examinations are part of the NHS newborn screening programme, which also includes a newborn hearing screening test.

Your baby should also be weighed (naked) at birth, and at five days and 10 days old.

For more information, see Why will my newborn baby's hearing be checked? and What are blood spot screening tests? 

Read the answers to more questions about children's health.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 27/04/2014

Next review due: 26/04/2016