Baby clinic visits
Baby clinic visits

Guidelines that are used across New Zealand recommend regular health checks for your baby at:

  • birth
  • 1 - 4 weeks
  • 6 - 8 weeks
  • 6 - 8 months
  • 18 months
  • 2½ -3½ years
  • 4 - 5 years

Visiting your GP or community child health nurse on a regular basis gives you a chance to discuss any concerns you may have as well as an opportunity to understand how your child is developing. If you are worried about any aspect of your child's health or development between scheduled check-ups, you should make an appointment to discuss your concerns rather than wait.

Well Child health book

Every baby born in New Zealand is given a Well Child/Tamariki Ora health book at birth (if not, ask your lead maternity carer, GP or well child provider for a copy). This book provides a record of immunisation and health checks, as well as mapping the changes in your baby's development for the first five years of her life.

 The Health Book tells you:
  • About the Well Child checks
  • What to expect at different ages and ideas about how to cope
  • How to keep your child safe
  • What to do in emergencies
  • How to recognise danger signals of child sickness (back cover).
  • The book has growth charts where your Well Child provider will plot your child’s growth at each visit.
Because babies develop at different rates, the growth charts should only be used as a guide. You should bring the book to every visit you may have with a health professional - be that GP, hospital or child health clinic - so that you can provide them with a complete personal history for your baby.

Percentile growth charts:

Babies all develop at different rates, so there is a huge variety between them. Because of that, it's a good idea to treat growth chart measurements as a guide. All growth charts are rated in percentiles which cover the variations of 'normal' - and most babies fall between the 5th and 97th percentile bands which are all normal. If your baby is in the 40th percentile for weight and length, it means that he is heavier and taller than 40% of other babies of the same age and sex. A baby in the 80th percentile for head circumference has a larger head than 80% of other babies of the same age and sex - both babies, though, fall comfortably within the 'normal' range.

The most important thing, though, is that your baby is healthy and happy and is growing and developing in his own time - not how he compares on a chart to other babies.

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This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot - New Zealand's parenting resource for newborns and baby. Sources include SA Government's Parenting and Child Health and Raising Children Network.

Last revised: Friday, 13 June 2014

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.