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The 6-8 week check - What happens?

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 3 minutes read

The 6-8 week check is part of the 'NHS Newborn and Infant Physical Examination programme'. Your doctor will invite you to an appointment that includes an overview of how your child is developing, a physical examination, and a chance for the parents to express any concerns they may be having and for your doctor to address them and give health promotion advice. They may have had a newborn screening check when they were just born.

Usually, the mother also has a postnatal check at the same time as baby's check, but it could also be done separately.

What happens during the physical exam?

Your doctor will perform a set of well-rehearsed medical exams. These include checking your baby's eyes for congenital cataracts, heart for sounds of congenital heart disease, hips for developmental dysplasia of the hip (unstable hip joint progression), and their testes (if they are a boy) to ensure they have descended.

They will also assess your baby's general appearance, movement, and body parts from head to toe. They will also measure their weight and head size and plot this on a chart, comparing their growth from when they were born.

They will ask you questions about how your child is feeding and sleeping, whether they are following you appropriately with their eyes, and responding to noises such as startling to loud noises as you would expect. By 6 weeks, your baby should also be smiling and have a range of baby sounds they will make.

If they have any concerns, they will refer you to the community or hospital team for further investigation and/or review.

What health promotion advice will they discuss with me?

Your doctor will discuss some important topics about your baby with you. This will cover the importance of vaccinations (the appointment may follow closely).  You will be offered feeding advice and ways to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as well as general safety around the home. They will advise you of the importance of not exposing your baby to any smokers too.

Will they ask any questions about me?

Often mothers will have a separate appointment just before or just after the baby's 6-8 week check. Here the doctor will check in with the mother to find out they have been feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally since delivery. You will be asked about the labour and delivery and if there are any complications including constipation, vaginal discharge, or signs of infection. They will examine your stitches or scar and feel your tummy as well as take your blood pressure and weight. You may also discuss your plans for contraception going forward.

What should I bring?

The most important thing is to bring your baby and mother to the appointment. If you would like some support, you might ask if a partner is able to attend with you. It is always a good idea to bring your baby's red book with you to every health appointment, so all the findings can be recorded there. It's a good idea to take your baby's red book with you every time you visit the baby clinic or your doctor.  If you have any questions or concerns, it is important for you to bring them to this appointment.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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