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Well Child checks give children the best start in life

Well Child checks give children the best start in life.

The Well Child / Tamariki Ora Programme is a series of free health visits offered to all children from birth to age 5. Only about three quarters of all babies receive the first core visit (between 2–6 weeks old). Dr Marguerite Dalton, paediatrician and Well Child / Tamariki Ora promotion champion, would like to see all children benefit: “Well Child checks are a great opportunity to follow baby’s progress and offer families support. Any physical or developmental issues can be picked up early and referrals to specialised care can be made.”

Each year, Well Child Week promotes the Well Child programme. This year Well Child Week (Feb 29–March 5) celebrates the free visit at 9–12 months of age. At this time assessments of growth, development and an oral health screen occur. Infants at this age are more mobile and keen to explore new things. Parents need to be mindful of the safety concerns relating to their child’s increased mobility. This is one part of keeping young children well.

Being able to pick up items as small as peas and beads increases the choking hazard risk. Rolling, crawling, and using their surroundings to pull themselves to standing and to support unsteady steps increase the area around them that needs to be safe. Dr Dalton comments that: “We encourage families/whānau to check their home environment, making sure things are safe for their baby and exploring toddler. This would include keeping kitchens safe, and ensuring cleaning products and medicines are locked away. It’s important to be extra vigilant with children around cars in driveways or at the beach, lake and other water ways.”

The whole community needs to support and encourage families to ensure that all children get the best start in life by enrolling in the programme.

A range of providers deliver the Well Child Programme across the country, including Plunket and local Māori or Pacific providers. Midwifes and family doctors play a vital role in linking families to the right provider when baby is born.

Early enrolment and getting the complete set of checks on time gives children the best start in life, and helps families access other services when needed.

ends

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