All babies have a routine physical examination between six and eight weeks, but these important appointments may be missed due to the impact of COVID-19. The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) have published a guide for parents about signs to look out for if they have been unable to get an appointment, or if it has been delayed.
At the 6-8 week check, babies have a thorough physical examination – this is usually done by a GP. Babies’ eyes, heart, hips and, for boys, testicles are checked – and they also have their weight, length and head circumference measured to ensure that baby is developing as they should.
Dr David Evans, Consultant Neonatologist and Vice President at RCPCH said:
“All newborns have a physical examination after birth. This picks up most, but not all, of the problems we look out for in the first weeks of life. That’s why it’s so important for babies to have a six-week check, which is usually carried out by a GP.”
Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director of the Institute of Health Visiting said:
“We really want parents to attend this check-up, but we know that it may not always be possible due to the impact of COVID-19. If you’re a new parent who has struggled to get an appointment, or if it’s been delayed, we’ve produced some easy to follow signs to look out for while you wait to see a GP.
“The iHV is asking every health visitor to share this important guide with all parents when they are first in contact with them after the birth of their baby.”
The guidance says, if your baby does not have a six-to-eight-week check, you should ask yourself the following questions. If the answer to any is “yes”, you should contact your health visitor or GP.
- Do you think your baby can’t ever fully open both eyes?
- Do you think your baby doesn’t make good eye contact and hold his/her gaze at you?
- Do you think that your baby doesn’t follow your face if you move your head from side to side when standing near him/her (less than one metre)?
- Do you think that your baby’s eyes shake/flicker/ wobble? Do you think there is something unusual about, or in, your baby’s eyes, for example, the dark central area (pupil) looks cloudy or the eyeball is an unusual shape or size?
- Are the whites of your baby’s eyes yellow?
- When you change your baby’s nappy, do you find that one leg cannot be moved out sideways as far as the other?
- Does one leg seem to be longer than the other?
- Do you have any other concerns about your baby’s hips?
- (If the answer to either of these is “yes”, you should speak to someone the same day)
- Does your baby seem breathless or sweaty, at any time, especially when feeding?
- Does your baby have blue, pale, blotchy, or ashen (grey) skin at any time?
This guidance is published as an iHV Parent Tip and is available here: