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Baby and toddler health

The first few years of your child's life are vital and the decisions that you make now will have long lasting effects on their health and wellbeing.

There are lots of services on offer to help you give your little one the best possible start in life.

Newborn screening

When a baby is born there are a range of routine health checks and tests that will take place in the first 6 weeks. These include:

  • a physical examination
  • a hearing test
  • a blood test (taken from the baby's heel)

Find out more about NHS newborn screening.


When you choose to breastfeed, you make an investment in your baby's future. Breastfeeding also protects you and your baby's health.

We support a variety of initiatives to help you get the advice and support that you need.

The Breastfeeding Peer Support Service offers support and advice to mothers to help establish a breastfeeding routine. This involves visits to mothers during pregnancy and after birth until breastfeeding is established.

Our children's service and health visitors have achieved UNICEF Level 3 Baby Friendly Accreditation. This involves implementing Baby Friendly standards, and requires being externally assessed by UNICEF which involves interviewing mothers about the care they have received and reviewing policies, guidance and internal audits.

We also run a programme that enables businesses to sign up to be breastfeeding friendly. Find out more about our breastfeeding welcome here awards.

Healthy child programme

We make sure services are available to offer every family a programme of screening tests, developmental reviews, information and support for parenting and help to make healthy choices.

This is part of the nationwide Healthy Child Programme. Health visitors lead on delivering this in partnership along with other services.

Health visitors

Health visitors are qualified nurses or midwives who have completed specialist training in public health for children, young people and families.

Health visitors, along with school nurses, are responsible for helping to improve the health of parents, children and young people.

They lead on the Healthy Child Programme, a government programme developed to improve the health and well-being of children under the age of 5.

Childhood vaccinations

These are the vaccinations that are routinely offered free to all children in the UK. These are given by your GP and include polio, diphtheria, rotavirus and the MMR jab.

Children who are at increased risk of certain diseases may also be offered additional vaccinations.

Parents with worries or queries about any aspect of their child's immunisations should discuss them with their doctor, health visitor or practice nurse.

You can see the full list of childhood immunisations and when they are given at NHS Choices.

Read more about the importance of childhood vaccinations on GOV.UK.

First 1,001 days

A baby's brain development is shaped by its earliest experiences and these can have a lifelong impact on that child's mental and emotional health. That's why the time between conception and 2 years of age is vital to a child's health and wellbeing. This is classed as the 1,001 critical days.

If a baby's development falls behind the norm during this time it's more likely to fall even further behind in subsequent years.

Every child deserves a chance to lead a healthy and fulfilling life and, with the right kind of help, there is every opportunity for all children to achieve their full potential.

Find out about the best start for life: a vision for the 1,001 critical days.

Parenting support

Parenting can be tough and there are a number of reasons why you might extra help sometimes.

Getting the right information and advice at the right time can really help. Find out about the parenting support we can offer.

You can also find local help and support on a range of issues at your nearest children's centre. Our centres provide advice on things like early education, childcare, health services and information on a wide variety of other services.