When your baby is six weeks old, you'll be invited to take them to your medical centre for a health assessment. This assessment can help your doctor detect a number of potential problems early and enables your child to benefit from prompt intervention and treatment, if necessary. Here's an overview of the three main parts of this important assessment:
Your doctor will weigh your baby and measure their head circumference and length. This will allow them to determine if your baby's growth is in the normal range for their age. The doctor will also check your baby's hips for dysplasia, which is characterised by improperly formed ball and socket joints. Your baby's heart will also be checked for signs of a murmur, their abdomen will be examined for signs of a hernia, and their eyes will be examined to ensure they are able to track an object and show no signs of congenital cataracts.
This part of your child's assessment will seek to establish your baby is moving their limbs in an appropriate way and isn't prone to moving one side of their body more than the other, which can indicate the presence of a neuromuscular condition. Their spine and muscle tone will also be observed, and by six weeks, your baby's head should be in line with their torso. Your doctor will also check your baby's level of social responsiveness, such as being able to smile voluntarily and locking their eyes on their main caregiver's face.
You will be given time during the assessment appointment to discuss any concerns you have and ask questions. You may want to discuss immunisation schedules, feeding problems, sudden infant death syndrome, how you're coping and how your baby's sleeping. Your doctor can organise referrals to other health professionals for additional support, such as a breastfeeding consultant, if required. You'll also be given information about your local well-baby clinic, which is usually located in the medical centre, and you can attend that clinic whenever you want to have your baby weighed or have a query about their health or development.
The six week assessment can cause you to feel anxious as you await your doctor's verdict on the health of your baby, but it can also provide reassurance your child is developing as they should. If you haven't been invited to attend your medical centre for this assessment by the time your child is five weeks old, contact your doctor or child health nurse for an appointment.
When you are pregnant it's important not just to eat more than you have been eating previously but also that you are eating the right types of food to make sure that you and the baby stay healthy. Having a healthy diet and not eating the wrong foods can help to keep you feeling comfortable and happy throughout your pregnancy and ensure the best outcomes for you and the baby. This blog has some nutrition advice from parents and health professionals so that you can have a healthy diet throughout you pregnancy journey and includes details on where to get specific advice if you need more help.