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The early years of a child’s life are very important for their health and development. Healthy development means that children of all abilities, including those with special health care needs, are able to make the best of their life and contribute to the lives of others as well.

When your baby is born you will be given a ‘Red Book’ – this is the ‘Personal Child Health Record’.

There is lots of information in there for you and we would like you to use it to record important health facts for your baby. Please take it with you everywhere so that if your baby is poorly you have up to date information on your baby for the health professional you see.

It will also mean that when your baby is grown up they have a record of all their health appointments and immunisations.

The Red Book

The Red Book is available in lots of languages. Please ask for your own language and we will try our best to get this for you.

Whenever you meet with a member of the health visitor team they will be checking that your child is doing the things we would expect for their age, but as parents or carers we see you as the experts of your own child. If you ever have any concerns, please contact your health visitor at your local well baby clinic.

During the first few years parents or carers will be invited to see a member of the health visiting team to check that their baby is meeting their developmental milestones – we call these core contacts. There are four core contacts, 10 to 14 days after your baby is born, when your baby is between 6 to 8 weeks old, 9 to 12 months old and at 2 ½ years old. From 9 to 12 months to help you and the health visitor team know your baby is doing what we expect, we use a tool called ‘The Ages and Stages Questionnaire’ – this is normally sent to you to complete before your health visitor team appointment and is very easy to fill in, but if you need some help please ask.

All children are different and develop at their own pace but your love and attention is their best encouragement.

If there are any concerns for your baby’s development, your health visitor will explain to you so that together you can decide the best plan to help your child.

Toilet training

Ready Steady…

  • Children are ready at different ages but around 2 and 2 ½ is a good time to start. Choose a potty with your child and keep it in the bathroom, if your bathroom is upstairs, keep one downstairs as well so it is handy
  • Gently encourage your child to sit on the potty for a short time (bath time, change time and whenever you go to the toilet are helpful
  • Have a bag of special toys and books in the bathroom just for when they sit on the potty, bubbles are good too
  • Go shopping for some special pants
Lots to learn…

  • Practice washing hands at each change
  • Change nappies or pull ups standing up
  • Send the nappy or pull up contents down the toilet and flush
  • Practice pulling up trousers and pull ups
Healthy bladder and bowels

  • Your child needs to wee and poo without discomfort
  • Offer 6 to 8 drinks a day of 120 to 150mls in a cup
  • Make sure your child is not constipated as this can impact on toilet training
What children should drink

  • Water is best  (if your child needs a drink in the night only offer water)
  • 2 to 3 drinks of milk a day are fine
  • Say bye bye to bottles and drink out of a cup now
  • Don’t limit drinks, the bladder needs to learn to fill right up and empty to work properly
  • Don’t give drinks containing caffeine (tea, coffee and cola), sweetened drinks and fizzy drinks until they are older, and then only as a treat.
Where to go for help

  • Call your health visiting team or pop in to one of their clinics. They have some helpful leaflets they can send you
  • Go to www.eric.org.uk or phone 08453 708 008, they have lots of leaflets and advice online or will send you a copy of Eric’s Guide to Potty Training.

Dental hygiene

As soon as teeth erupt in the mouth brush them twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste. The Department of Health advises that fluoride toothpaste should contain no less than 1,000ppm for children aged between 0 and 6.

Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day with a pea sized amount of the fluoride toothpaste and it should be spat out after brushing without rinsing as this helps to maintain fluoride concentration.

You can find more information about dental hygiene here.

Helping good sleep habits

Helping your baby learn to sleep

Most parents look forward to their baby beginning to sleep through the night, but every baby is different and the age they sleep through the night will vary. Our definition of sleeping through the night is missing one night feed, so in reality if a baby sleeps six hours overnight this is a good night time sleep behaviour. Around 3 months old is an optimum window for beginning to put in some good sleep habits.

Encouraging good sleep habits

  • Avoid anything stimulating in the hour before bedtime. Keep it low-key and relaxing, try not to have the television on.
  • Establish a bedtime routine. This helps set your child’s body clock, and sleeping and waking patterns. A good one would be – quiet play time, bath milk, story or gentle song. Do the same things every night. It should all last about half an hour.
  • Place your baby in their cot or basket drowsy but not asleep.
  • Leave your baby awake, say goodnight and leave the room. *
  • Your baby should be asleep within about 15 minutes. If not, look at nap times or revisit the bedtime routine and check it’s calm and consistent.
  • Try to have regular nap times each day. One a day should preferably be in the cot. It is healthy for babies to have naps and should be encouraged up to 2 years old and beyond if they want to. It is very important that babies under a year sleep in the daytime, so out for a walk or a drive in the car are also good. Babies should not be kept awake in an effort to get them to sleep better at night as this just encourages them to learn to keep themselves awake.
  • Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
  • Keep the house calm and quiet but don’t tip toe about.
  • If your child cries, try not to go in too quickly – leave them to see if they will settle themselves.
  • If they cry, gently reassure them with the minimum of interaction.

*If your baby is under six months you will need to keep the room where they are put to bed dark and quiet and stay near them. Or, you can put them to bed a little later and get a much needed early night yourself just for a few weeks. Once they are six months and in their own room or able to be left alone, bring bedtime earlier.

If you need some extra support, just call your health visitor or pop in to one of the well baby clinics.

Last reviewed:July 4, 2022 byJennifer

Next review due:January 4, 2023

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