Baby’s first four weeks

What health checks would your little one usually have at this time?

At this time, new Mummies are not able to access community healthcare as they would usually after the birth of their baby. With this in mind, Metanium’s Midwife Heather Morris has written this piece for us giving useful advice, including an overview of the essential health checks and interventions that babies aged 1-12 weeks would usually have with a Health Visitor.

The first four weeks

During the first four weeks of life, a newborn baby is likely to start looking at faces, recognising parents and responding to sounds. Here’s how you can help develop those new-found skills.

  • Talk to your baby and make lots of eye contact. The sound of your voice will soothe them and kick-start their language skills. 
  • Hold a bright and noisy toy like a small baby rattle and move it across their line of vision so they can follow it with their eyes. 
  • Hang a bright mobile over your baby’s cot to help develop visual skills and focussing. Babies usually respond to shiny, bright mobiles. 
  • In their first few weeks, babies like looking at faces. If a face is close, they’ll focus on and follow it. By two weeks many babies begin to recognise their parents/caregivers.  
  • Making baby noises will teach your baby how to listen, and about the importance of words and taking turns in a conversation. 

What health checks and interventions would my baby have at weeks one to four?

  • A baby will generally be weighed at birth, then at five and 10 days 
  • Within 72 hours of birth, a baby will have a thorough physical examination including the eyes, heart, hips and, for baby boys, testicles. 
  • At five to eight days a baby will have a blood spot (heel prick) test to screen for a number of rare diseases, including cystic fibrosis and sicle cell disease.  
  • A hearing test will be performed within the first few weeks after birth.  

By week eight

By now, your baby may start to notice their surroundings, smile responsively, react to familiar faces and voices and reach out for objects.

  • Your baby may be busy exploring their body – kicking, waving and trying to grab. If you’re finding their bedcovers constantly kicked off, a baby sleeping bag might be the answer.  
  • It’s a good time to introduce simple board books. They will love hearing your voice and looking at the pictures. 
  • Babies learn very quickly and providing plenty of sensory-stimulating opportunities, such as brightly coloured toys (babies are captivated by high-contrast patterns), baby play gyms and mobiles is a good idea. 
  • Supervised tummy time  helps babies develop the neck, chest and arm muscles that allow them to lift their heads independently and use their forearms to support their upper body. The same muscles also play a role in reaching, sitting and crawling.  
  • Supervised time without a nappy will also allow the skin to breath and help avoid nappy rash problems. 

Four to Eight Weeks

What health checks and interventions will my baby have in weeks four to eight?

A baby will have their first set of vaccinations at eight weeks old and these include: 

  • The 6-in-1 vaccine which is given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks and protects against diphtheria, polio, hepatitis B, HiB (Haemophilus influenzae type b), tetanus and pertussis (DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB) 
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)  which is given at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year. 
  • RV (rotavirus) vaccine is given as an oral vaccine in two doses for babies aged 8 and 12 weeks. 
  • Meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine is recommended for babies aged 8 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year. 

Eight to 12 weeks

During weeks eight to 12 your baby may start developing an awareness of their surroundings, enjoying the ‘feel’ of things, smiling at familiar faces and voices 

  • Try to get lots of skin to skin contact with your baby, besides helping the bonding experience, it can also be very comforting. You could try some simple baby massage by rubbing baby oil into your baby’s skin while talking to them. 
  • By three months old, your baby will start developing a keener sense of their surroundings and developing their sense of touch. Try using materials or toys with different textures that your baby can play with and touch.  
  • Your baby’s neck will be getting stronger and daily ‘tummy time’ – a few minutes spent on their tummies – is important. It will help improve their co-ordination, muscles and the skills needed for movement. 
  • Going nappy free on a mat and during ‘tummy time’ will also allow the skin to breath and help avoid nappy rash problems. 

Health checks and interventions at eight to 12 weeks

A baby will have their second set of vaccinations at 12 weeks and these include: 

  • The second dose of the 6-in-1 vaccine which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Hib and hepatitis B (DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB) 
  • The second dose of the rotavirus vaccine which is given as an oral vaccine in two doses for babies aged 8 and 12 weeks. 

Note: You should adjust your expectations on development for premature babies. 

With thanks to Heather Morris, Midwife for nappy rash cream Metanium

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