After your baby is born, you will have contact with a Child Health Nurse (CHN). This first visit is often at home because it can be hard to get out with a new baby. Each State and Territory in Australia has their own schedule for routine visits and health checks at key ages and stages. Generally, the first CHN visit is booked for between 0-4 weeks after birth.
What your Child Health Nurse will check
Your CHN will ask you how your baby is going and if you have any concerns about yourself or your baby. They will ask you about your:
- Pregnancy, your baby’s birth and how you are recovering.
- Social history.
- Practical and emotional support network.
- Risk of domestic violence – this may include a screening tool.
- Baby’s feeding history.
- Baby’s weeing and pooing.
They will do a physical examination on your baby and check their:
- Weight, head circumference and length. These measurements will be plotted (charted) in your baby’s Personal Health Record Book. Currently, the World Health Organisation Growth charts are recommended.
- Mouth including their palate, gums and frenulum - where the tongue attaches to the base of the mouth.
- Head, skin, nappy area and cord to make sure this has healed.
- Results from the newborn hearing screen.
- Documentation for birth vaccinations and speak with you about the vaccination schedule.
- Hips to make sure they abduct equally.
- Femoral pulses to assess if they are equal and bounding.
- Overall development. Although every baby is unique and will develop in their own time, there are certain developmental stages which need to be met in order to progress to the next stage.
They will also give you information about:
- Ways to build a close emotional connection with your baby.
- Safe sleeping guidelines and how to keep your baby safe.
- Give you advise on feeding, settling and general newborn cares.
- Advise about tummy time and ways to do this.
- What developmental milestones to expect.
It’s fine to ask your CHN any questions you may have about yourself or your baby. Check with your GP if you’re worried before your CHN appointment.
Written for GAIA by Jane Barry, Midwife and Child Health Nurse, October 2022.