Health Visitors

The Healthy Child Programme is designed to offer every family support in making healthy choices. It includes immunisations, health information, developmental reviews, and access to a range of community services and resources.

Pregnancy and the first five years of life are one of the most important stages in life, as this is when the foundations of future health and wellbeing are laid down. The Healthy Child Programme is delivered and supported by Health Visiting teams during this phase.

The Healthy Child Progamme continues to be delivered and supported by School Nursing teams once your child starts school.

If you have any worries about your baby’s or toddler’s development talk to your health visitor, even if it is some time since the last regular visit, or some time since you’ve been to a clinic. Health visitors can come to your home to talk through any concerns you have and can put you in touch with the people who can help if there are problems.

What can I expect from my health visiting team?

There are key times which you can expect to have contact from your health visiting team. This universal service offered to every family includes:

Antenatal Visit

Health Visitors work in partnership with midwives and aim to visit you after the 28th week of pregnancy. This will give you an opportunity to discuss your pregnancy, your health and wellbeing and your ideas about your baby and plans for after your baby is born.

Health Visitors will introduce to you the Healthy Child Programme and tell you about your local services and Children’s Centre.

At this contact Health Visitors can give you information about how you can keep you and your baby safe and well, including information about diet, vitamin supplements, smoking cessation, maternal mental health, and baby’s sleeping position. They will also discuss the benefits of breastfeeding, helping you prepare, and have an informed choice, in feeding your baby.

New Birth Review

Around 14 days after your baby's birth, your health visitor will arrange a face-to-face visit usually in your own home. During this visit, your health visitor can help support you with breastfeeding and safe formula feeding, and offer guidance on the reality of the early days with your baby, such as sleep and safety.

Your health visitor will discuss ways of enhancing your baby's interaction with you in the coming months by enjoying playing, talking and singing activities and promoting closeness by skin-to-skin care and contact.

Your health visitor will check your baby has had a hearing and newborn bloodspot screen and is growing and developing and will also talk about your own health and wellbeing.

Maternal Mental Health

Following the birth of a baby some women can experience feeling low and emotional. This can occur between 4-12 days after childbirth and is often mild and perfectly normal.

Postnatal depression symptoms can occur within the first year of having had your baby and affects between one and four in every 10 women. Symptoms include low mood, feeling emotional and tearful, anxious, and loss of enjoyment in activities that you previously enjoyed.

If you feel you have symptoms of postnatal depression then you may need help from your Health Visitor or GP.

Your health visitor will sensitively discuss your emotional health and wellbeing with you. They will be able to organise extra support for you if you need it.

Child Health Clinic

Within your locality there are child health clinics that you can attend and be able to see a member of the health visiting team. Within the team there are Health Visitors, Community Staff Nurses and Community Nursery Nurses.

With these staff you will be able to discuss any aspect of your child's growth and development or family's health and well-being.

Within the clinic there is the availability to have your child weighed. The World Health Organisation suggests that healthy babies are weighed at two, three, and four months and at one year.

One Year Health Review

Just before your child is one year old, your health visitor will invite you and your child to an appointment to assess and discuss their physical, emotional and social development.

Your health visiting team will check your child’s growth and offer information to support issues you may be encountering.

They can also give practical guidance on managing crying, healthy eating, healthy sleep practices, bath time, bed routines and play and communication activities.

Two Year Health Review

At two years, your health visiting team will arrange an appointment to review your child’s physical, emotional, social and communication development with you. They can signpost you to appropriate social groups and access to preschools if needed.

Your child's growth, development and immunisations will also be reviewed, and the team can talk through any concerns you have about your child's health and wellbeing.

The Health Visiting Team can give information on healthy eating, including portion size and mealtime routines. They can also give guidance on behaviour, physical activity and toilet training. The Health Visiting Team can give information to promote language development, talking about reading books together, participating in groups and interactive activities.

In addition to these key universal contacts the Health Visiting Team are available to offer specific expert help and advice on a range of topics. This can include:

  • Parenting
  • Healthy Eating
  • Minor Illnesses
  • Emotional Health and wellbeing
  • Safeguarding/Domestic Abuse
  • Accidents and safety in the home


Thank-you to Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust for providing this information - www.southernhealth.nhs.uk

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