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  4. Baby Health Checks

Baby Health Checks

Before your little one came into the world, you may have had no idea of how much you could love them. Naturally, this means you’re dedicated to providing the best care available. One tricky thing will be figuring out what your baby support options are in New Zealand.
Don’t worry, we’re here to make it easier for you, so you can learn exactly which services the government and other organisations provide. We’ll also help you to find out about how to book in for your baby’s health checks.

Key health checks for babies

Health checks aren’t always a big event – sometimes your doctor, midwife or early childhood nurse will simply check that your child is growing and developing well. They’ll also make sure there aren’t any obvious problems. However, there are some key health milestones throughout the early years of your child’s life that you should be aware of:

  • Post-birth health check: In the days following your baby’s birth, your doctor or midwife will weigh your baby and check they are healthy. They will also give them vitamin K, which will help to prevent bleeding problems. Your healthcare professional will also make sure you have the support you need to establish breastfeeding. The informed consent of a parent or guardian must be given prior to receiving any injections such as Vitamin K.
  • The Newborn Metabolic Screening Programme (heel prick): When your baby is 48 hours old, your midwife will take a small sample of blood from their heel. This is to screen for rare conditions which could become a serious health risk.
  • Hearing test: Before your baby reaches one month, a hearing test will be done. This involves placing soft cups over their ears, through which clicking sounds will be played. Their reaction to these sounds is a screen for early hearing problems.
  • Immunisations: In New Zealand, immunisations are carried out at six weeks, three months, five months, 15 months, and four years. The informed consent of a parent or guardian must be given prior to receiving any injections. View the National Immunisation Schedule for more specific information about vaccines and what you need to know.
  • B4 School Check: This is a government initiative, which includes a health and development check-up, behavioural assessment, vision and hearing tests, oral health check, and four-year immunisations.

The Well Child Tamariki Ora Programme

The Well Child Tamariki Ora Programme (let’s call it WCTO for short) provides all the core health checks your baby will need from birth right up to five years of age. WCTO is completely free.

What is included in the Well Child Tamariki Ora Programme?

The WCTO programme provides all the essential medical care your growing baby needs to stay healthy. Typically, a midwife will care for your baby for six weeks. After this, they’ll hand over to your baby’s WTCO health care provider.
Parents can expect the following core services, as well as others specified on the WCTO core health checks schedule.

  • Health check at birth
  • Vitamin K
  • Metabolic screening
  • Safe sleep recommendations
  • Hearing and vision tests
  • Immunisations (six weeks, three months, five months, 15 months
  • Oral health monitoring
  • Behavioural assessment
  • Before school health check

At what ages do the core health checks happen?

WCTO has an age appropriate schedule, which will be easy to follow once you’re in the programme. Your doctor or nurse will also inform you when your appointments are coming up. Don’t stress too much about missing appointments.
This is when your little one will have their check-ups:

  • Birth
  • First week
  • 2-4 weeks
  • 6 weeks
  • 8-10 weeks
  • 3-4 months
  • 5-7 months
  • 9-12 months
  • 15-18 months
  • 2-3 years
  • Before school health check (4 years)

Where can I find a WCTO provider?

View the WCTO provider’s page on their official website to find health care professionals in your city or town.

Plunket

Plunket provides a range of health care services alongside government programmes, such as Well Child Tamariki Ora. While the WCTO program delivers well child and developmental checks, Plunket focuses on family wellbeing and support for parents. Each year Plunket sees more than 90 percent of newborn babies across New Zealand.

What do Plunket provide?

Plunket is well known across New Zealand for their health visits, growth and development assessments, and educational support for parents. Plunket works together with families and communities, to ensure the best start for every child.

Plunket visits:

  • Home visits (just after birth)
  • Clinic visits
  • Mobile clinics

Information and support:

  • Nutrition
  • Breastfeeding
  • Sleep
  • Behaviour
  • Growth and development

Community services:

  • Mothers’ groups
  • Toy libraries
  • Play groups

What is PlunketLine?

The PlunketLine is a toll-free number you can call 24/7 which is staffed by specialist Plunket registered nurses. The number is 0800 933 922 – call any time for parenting information and guidance about when to seek medical attention.