There are a few checks that are recommended in the first couple of weeks after your baby is born to find out if there are any health problems early on. No screening or check can be performed on your baby without your understanding and consent, and your midwife will provide you with information so that you can decide.

Your baby’s health record (the red book) is used to record important health information by doctors, midwives, health visitors and others. There is also lots of useful information for you about your baby’s development in the red book. 

If you have any health concerns about your baby, however small, speak to your midwife or health visitor.

With your consent, this examination is carried out within 72 hours after the birth of your baby, usually by a midwife or doctor.

The screening test is to check if your baby has any problems with their eyes, heart, hips and (in boys) testicles. You will be asked about your baby’s feeding and general wellbeing. The results are then recorded, and a copy included in your baby’s personal health record (red book).

When your baby is 6-8 weeks, a second examination will be carried out by your GP or health visitor as some conditions can take a little while to develop.

Video produced by Public Health England

If you gave birth to your baby in a hospital or birth centre, you will probably be offered a newborn hearing test for your baby before you go home.  Otherwise, hearing screening can be provided by a specialist at a follow up clinic within the early weeks.

You may be told the results of the test straight away and have it recorded it in your baby’s health record (the red book).  It’s important to continue to check your baby’s hearing as they can develop permanent hearing loss as they grow up. Speak to your health visitor or GP if you have any concerns.

Video produced by Public Health England

On day 5 after the birth, your baby will be offered a blood screening test to detect a 9 rare but serious conditions. Detecting these early is very important. For these conditions, early treatment makes all the difference. Full information is available here on these 9 conditions.

The blood is collected from your baby’s heel using a lancet – this device gives quick, sterile, needle prick. The foot is then allowed to bleed for a few drops before being stopped and a tiny plaster applied. The drops are caught on a piece of card which is sent off for analysis. You would be telephoned within a few days if anything important is detected.

Video produced by Public Health England

Your baby can’t see far when they are first born. They can usually just about see your face when in a traditional cradle hold, at chest height. Their eyes will be checked at the newborn health check. By the time they’re two weeks old, they should start to track objects or faces. If you have any concerns, then contact your GP.

If your baby has any of these symptoms, contact your midwife, GP or phone 111 straightaway:

  • Your baby isn’t feeding or having difficulty feeding
  •  You’re finding it difficult to wake your baby and they are listless
  • Your baby has a temperature over 37.5C or below 36.5C
  • Your baby breathing is laboured, or they are grunting
  • There are long pauses in your baby’s breathing while they’re awake or asleep
  • Your baby has a high pitched or weak cry, and you are unable to settle them
  • Your baby becomes jaundiced within 24 hours of birth, or it get worse with yellowing of the eyes, they become listless or don’t want to feed.
  • Your baby hasn’t passed their first poo within 24 hours of birth
  • Your baby has not had a wet nappy for 12 hours
  • There is a rash over all over your baby’s body
  • The soft spot on your baby’s head is sunken or bulging.

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • Your baby is floppy and unresponsive
  • You can’t wake your baby
  • They have a blue tinge to their lips or around their mouth
  • Your baby has a pinprick rash which doesn’t fade when you press a glass against their skins
  • Your baby feels abnormally cold to the touch
  • Their skin is mottled or blue
  • Your baby has a fit or convulsion.

The Little Orange Book is being shared with permission from developer NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group and designer The Product Room.

'The Little Orange Book contains advice and tips on how to manage common illnesses and problems that babies and youg children often experience in the first 5 years of their lives'

To access The Little Orange Book, click here