You will be offered regular health and development reviews (health visitor checks) for your baby until they are 2. These are to support you and your baby, and make sure their development is on track.
The reviews are usually done by a health visitor or a member of their team. They may be done in your home or at a GP surgery, baby clinic or children's centre.
It's helpful, where possible, for both parents to attend. This gives you both a chance to ask questions and talk about any concerns you have.
The personal child health record (red book)
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 known as the "red book".
It's a good idea to take your baby's red book with you every time you visit the baby clinic or GP.
They will use it to record your child's weight and height, vaccinations and other important information.
You can also add information to the red book yourself. You may want to record any illnesses or accidents your baby has, or any medicines they take.
You'll find it helpful to keep the developmental milestones section of the red book up to date too.
What happens at your baby's reviews
During your baby's reviews your health visitor will discuss your baby's health and development, and ask if you have any concerns.
If your baby is gaining weight and you and your health visitor have no concerns, they should be weighed no more than:
- once a month up to 6 months of age
- once every 2 months from 6 to 12 months of age
- once every 3 months over the age of 12 months
This gives a clear idea of your baby's weight gain over a period of time.
See how your baby's weight is monitored.
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 2 years old.
The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3)
Your health visiting team will send you a questionnaire, known as the "Ages and Stages Questionnaire" or ASQ-3, to fill in before your child's 9 to 12-month and 2-year development reviews.
This allows you to try out some of the activities covered by the questionnaire with your baby at home, where they are comfortable and in familiar surroundings.
When your baby will have their reviews
Your baby will usually have reviews at the ages we talk about on this page. If you have any concerns at other times, you can contact a health visitor or GP, or go to your local baby clinic.
Shortly after birth
Your baby will be weighed at birth and again during their first week. They will also have a thorough physical examination within 72 hours of being born. A health professional will usually check your baby's eyes, heart, hips and – for baby boys – testicles.
Read more about the newborn physical examination.
At 5 and 8 days old your baby will have a blood spot (heel prick) test that screens for several rare diseases, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. This is usually done by the midwife.
Find out more about the newborn blood spot (heel prick) test.
Your baby will also have a hearing test soon after birth. If you have your baby in hospital, this may happen before you leave. Otherwise, it will be done some time in the first few weeks in your home, at an outpatient clinic, or at your local health centre.
Find out more about the newborn hearing test.
A midwife and health visitor will also support you with breastfeeding, caring for your new baby, adjusting to life as a new parent.
1 to 2 weeks
A health visitor will do a new baby review within 10 to 14 days of the birth.
They can give you advice on:
- safe sleeping
- feeding your baby (breastfeeding and bottle feeding)
- adjusting to life as a new parent
- your baby's development
6 to 8 weeks
Your baby will be invited for a thorough physical examination. This is usually done by a GP.
Your baby's eyes, heart, hips and – for boys – testicles will be checked. They'll also have their weight, length and head circumference measured.
A GP or health visitor will discuss your baby's vaccinations with you. These are offered at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks and 12 months old, and before your child starts school.
They'll also ask you how you've been feeling emotionally and physically since the birth of your baby.
9 to 12 months
During this time, your baby should be offered another review looking at, among other things, language and learning, safety, diet and behaviour.
This is usually done by a member of your health visiting team. It's an opportunity for you to discuss any concerns you may have.
Your health visiting team will send you an ASQ-3 questionnaire to fill in before the review. This helps you and your health visitor understand how your baby is developing.
Do not worry if you cannot fill in the whole questionnaire – a health visitor will help you complete it.
2 to 2-and-a-half years
At 2 to 2-and-a-half years your child will have another health and development review. It's best if you and your partner can both be there.
This is usually done by a nursery nurse or health visitor, and may happen at your home, baby clinic or the children's centre.
If your child has started going to nursery, playgroup or a childminder, the review may be done there. You, a health visitor, keyworker or childminder will all do the review together.
You'll be sent an ASQ-3 questionnaire about your baby's development to fill in before the review. A health visitor, keyworker or childminder can help you with this.
This review will cover:
- general development, including movement, speech, social skills and behaviour, and hearing and vision
- growth, healthy eating and keeping active
- managing behaviour and encouraging good sleeping habits
- tooth brushing and going to the dentist
- keeping your child safe
Video: What does a health visitor do?
In this video, a health visitor explains the role of health visitors and the support they offer to new parents.
Media review due: 5 April 2023