You'll probably spend a large part of the first few days after birth looking at your baby. If you notice anything that worries you, however small, speak to your Midwife or Health Visitor.
Within the first 24 hours, a health professional will offer to give your baby an injection of vitamin K. This is to prevent a rare but serious blood disorder. Your baby will also have a thorough newborn physical examination in their first 72 hours. Among other things, their eyes, heart, hips and testicles (in boys) will be checked for possible problems.
In their first few weeks, you baby will also have the:
Register your baby with your GP as early as possible in case you need their help. You can use the pink card you’ll be given when you register your baby’s birth. Sign the card and take or post it to your GP.
You can contact your GP at any time, whether it’s for you or your child. Some GPs will see small babies at the beginning of surgery hours or without an appointment, but be prepared to wait. If you want the GP to see your baby before you’ve registered the birth, you can go to the surgery and fill in a registration form there. If you move, register with a new doctor close to you as soon as possible.
How do we look after our baby’s umbilical cord? How much can our baby see? Why are their genitals swollen? Newborn babies don’t come with an instruction manual and you’re bound to have lots of questions about their behaviour and appearance to begin with.
- Find out how to cope with a crying baby
- As a new mum, find out about the possible changes to your body and your relationships, and know how to spot the symptoms of postnatal depression
- If you have twins or multiples, you can find out more about caring for more than one baby at: the Twins Trust or the Multiple Births Foundation
Take a look at the Public Health Agency’s Birth to Five booklet; for more advice.
The Health Visitor team will explain normal baby weight gain using baby's Parent Held Record when they undertake the New Birth Visit. While our drop-in sessions have been closed due to COVID-19, parents can contact the Duty Line Monday to Friday 9am-5pm on 0300 330 5777 if you are concerned about your baby's growth and need a baby weight to be recorded by the health team using specialised baby scales. The staff can also advise you how to safely weigh baby at home where there are no concerns. If a baby needs to be weighed, an appointment will be made at the nearest Children's Centre (CC) which are currently for booked appointments only.
If your baby is gaining weight and you and your Health Visitor have no concerns, they should be weighed no more than:
- once a month up to 6 months of age
- once every 2 months from 6 to 12 months of age
- once every 3 months over the age of 12 months
This gives a clear idea of your baby's weight gain over a period of time. If you have any questions about your child's weight a Health Visitor, Nursery Nurse or the Infant Feeding Team will be able to help you.
It is normal for babies to lose some weight in the first few days after birth. Your baby will be weighed during their first 2 weeks to make sure they are regaining their birthweight. Most babies are at, or above, their birthweight by 2 weeks.
The Midwife and Health Visitor team will support you if your baby loses a large amount of weight or does not regain their birthweight by 2 weeks. Your baby's weight will be monitored by your midwife during this time. In Greenwich, your Midwife team will weigh your baby at 5 days old.
At 10-14 days you will be able to discuss your baby's feeding and weight at the Health visitor contact. After this time, babies need only be weighed again if there is a feeding or health concern. The Midwifery and Health Visiting teams will talk to you about how feeding is going, possibly offer to observe a feed if you're breastfeeding (face to face or video call) and look at your baby's health in general during these first few weeks if there are any concerns about your baby's weight. Weight is only one way to tell that your baby is healthy, growing and getting enough milk. Plenty of wet and dirty nappies is another reliable way .
Weighing baby at home
The best way to weigh your baby or child at home is to weigh them with yourself. To do this you will need a set of digital bathroom scales. This is less accurate than using specialist baby scales but can be used to give an indication of weight. You can check how accurate by weighing something of known weight such as 1kg bag of sugar or 1.5 kg bag of flour.
- Stand on the scale and weigh yourself. Write down your weight in kg.
- Undress your baby or child and remove their nappy. Pick them up.
- Weigh yourself and your baby or child. Write down your combined weight.
- Subtract your single weight from your combined weight to calculate your baby’s weight. For example, if alone you weigh 60 kg and you and your baby weigh 63.5 kg then your baby weighs 3.5 kg on their own.
*Please note that this method of weighing babies is not practical for a parent who weighs over 100kgs or babies who weigh less than 2.500kg. Your Red Book also gives information on how to record your baby's weight using growth charts. If you would like help with weighing your baby, using the growth charts or have any concerns about your child's weight please contact the Health Visiting local duty helpline.
Additional online information about how to tell your baby is feeding well and about growth charts:
A health visitor will usually visit you at home for the first time around 10 days after your baby is born. Until then you’ll be under the care of your local midwives.
A health visitor is a qualified nurse who has had extra training. They’re there to help you, your family and your new baby stay healthy.
Your health visitor can visit you at home, or you can see them at your child health clinic, GP surgery or health centre, depending on where they’re based. They will make sure you’ve got their phone number.
If you’re bringing up a child on your own or struggling for any reason, your health visitor can offer you extra support.
Talk to your health visitor if you feel anxious, depressed or worried. They can give you advice and suggest where to find help. They may also be able to put you in touch with groups where you can meet other mothers.
Well baby clinics
Well baby clinics are run by Health Visitors and offer baby health and development reviews. Your local Well Baby Clinic details can be found here.
You can also talk about any problems to do with your child, but if your child is ill and likely to need treatment, it’s best to see your GP.
Children’s centres are linked to maternity services. They provide family health and support services, early learning, and full-day or temporary care for children from birth to five years.
They also provide advice and information for parents on a range of issues, from parenting to training and employment opportunities. Some have special services for young parents.
Local advice centres
Advice centres are non-profit agencies that give advice on issues such as benefits and housing. They include Citizens Advice, community law centres, welfare rights offices, housing aid centres, neighbourhood centres, and community projects.
Look for them under these names in your phone book or under the name of your local authority. To help you get the most out of services, remember:
- Before you go, think about what you want to talk about and what information you can give that’ll be helpful. Maybe jot these ideas down.
- Unless your child needs to be with you, try to get a friend or neighbour to look after them so you can concentrate.
- If a problem is making life difficult or really worrying you, keep going until you get some kind of answer, if not a solution.
- If you don’t understand, say so. Go back over what they said to make sure you understand. It may help if they write it down for you.
- If English isn’t your first language, you may be able to get help from a link worker or health advocate. Ask your health visitor or staff at your local Sure Start Children’s Centre if there’s a link worker or health advocate in your area