Why are developmental checks important for your baby?

four babiesFor those of you that have been to any of my talks, you will know that there will never be another time in your child’s life when they will grow so quickly or develop so fast.

The first year of life is a year of unbelievable change. They start out as a helpless newborn, full of uncontrollable jerky movements and unable to even lift their head, and one year later they will have tripled in weight, be standing up and maybe even walking, waving bye bye and uttering their first words. It is truly an amazing time.

Sometimes, however, there can be a few minor blips on the way,  As far as growth is concerned, maybe your baby is struggling to put on weight, maybe you have fussy eater,  maybe your child was born prematurely ( before 37 weeks). These babies need a careful eye on their weight gain, length and head circumference.

Developmentally, your child may be slow to roll over, maybe use one hand more than the other, may hate tummy time, or resist crawling. All these things are usually very normal, but they do need to be checked, to make sure nothing is being missed.

In  Great Britain, typically babies are checked on the NHS, at 3 , 5  8 and 12 months, here in Hong Kong, there are no hard and fast rules, it all depends whether you adhere to the local public system or see your paediatrician privately.

All babies should have developmental checks but in particular the babies with the following should be assessed

  1. Low birth weight babies
  2. Premature babies
  3. Breech presentation babies, ( more at risk of hip problems)
  4. Babies with any perinatal complications, such as breathing problems
  5. Very large birth weight babies
  6. Twins and multiple births
  7. Babies born with tight muscles  eg Torticollis ( tight muscles in the neck)  Talipes ( tightness in the feet a.k.a Club foot)
  8. Any baby who you are concerned about.

I think sound advice is that all babies should have 2  thorough developmental checks in their first year preferably one in their first 6 months and one later in the year: this will have the benefit of checking thoroughly for any differences in their all round  development. Most babies have no serious problems at all, but even if they have minor ones, the earlier it is picked up, the easier it is to remedy and the better the outcome. In every case, without doubt, early detection end intervention is the key.

As well as weight and measurements, muscle tone, head shape, spine, hips, sight and hearing should be checked

If you are concerned about your baby in any way, the earlier you check the better, and at very best you can be reassured that there is nothing to worry about.

Remember to look out for the baby clinics I will be holding in Lima, conducted in English. All the details will be on this site. Watch this space!

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