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What happens at the 8 week check?

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read
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The 8 week check is part of the well-baby visits during your baby’s first year of life. Your baby needs to go to the doctor 6 times during this period. Each appointment will include 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. 

Usually, the mother has a postnatal check around the same time as the baby's 8 week check. 

What happens during the physical exam?

Your doctor will perform a set of well-rehearsed medical exams during the well-baby visits. These include checking your baby's eyes for congenital cataracts, heart for sounds of congenital disease, hips for developmental dysplasia (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 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. Any recommended vaccinations will be given.  You will be offered feeding advice and ways to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as well as general safety around the home. They will advise you on the importance of not exposing your baby to smokers.

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. The doctor will check in with the mother to find out how they have been feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally since delivery. You will be asked about the labor 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 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 medical record 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 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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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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