Accessibility tools

Your new baby

You'll probably spend a large part of the first few days after birth looking at your baby. If you notice anything that worries you, however small, speak to your Midwife or Health Visitor.

Within the first 24 hours, a health professional will offer to give your baby an injection of vitamin K. This is to prevent a rare but serious blood disorder. Your baby will also have a thorough newborn physical examination in their first 72 hours. Among other things, their eyes, heart, hips and testicles (in boys) will be checked for possible problems.

In their first few weeks, you baby will also have the:

Blood spot (heel prick) test

Newborn hearing screening test

Register your baby with your GP as early as possible in case you need their help. You can use the pink card you’ll be given when you register your baby’s birth. Sign the card and take or post it to your GP.

You can contact your GP at any time, whether it’s for you or your child. Some GPs will see small babies at the beginning of surgery hours or without an appointment, but be prepared to wait. If you want the GP to see your baby before you’ve registered the birth, you can go to the surgery and fill in a registration form there. If you move, register with a new doctor close to you as soon as possible.

How your Health Visitor can help

A health visitor will usually visit you at home for the first time around 10 days after your baby is born. Until then you’ll be under the care of your local midwives.

A health visitor is a qualified nurse who has had extra training. They’re there to help you, your family and your new baby stay healthy.

Your health visitor can visit you at home, or you can see them at your child health clinic, GP surgery or health centre, depending on where they’re based. They will make sure you’ve got their phone number.

If you’re bringing up a child on your own or struggling for any reason, your health visitor can offer you extra support.

Talk to your health visitor if you feel anxious, depressed or worried. They can give you advice and suggest where to find help. They may also be able to put you in touch with groups where you can meet other mothers.

Well baby clinics

Well baby clinics are run by Health Visitors and offer baby health and development reviews. Your local Well Baby Clinic details can be found here.

You can also talk about any problems to do with your child, but if your child is ill and likely to need treatment, it’s best to see your GP.

Children and Family Centres

Children’s centres are linked to maternity services. They provide family health and support services, early learning, and full-day or temporary care for children from birth to five years.

They also provide advice and information for parents on a range of issues, from parenting to training and employment opportunities. Some have special services for young parents.

Find your local children and family centre here

Local advice centres

Advice centres are non-profit agencies that give advice on issues such as benefits and housing. They include Citizens Advice, community law centres, welfare rights offices, housing aid centres, neighbourhood centres, and community projects.

Look for them under these names in your phone book or under the name of your local authority. To help you get the most out of services, remember:

  • Before you go, think about what you want to talk about and what information you can give that’ll be helpful. Maybe jot these ideas down.
  • Unless your child needs to be with you, try to get a friend or neighbour to look after them so you can concentrate.
  • If a problem is making life difficult or really worrying you, keep going until you get some kind of answer, if not a solution.
  • If you don’t understand, say so. Go back over what they said to make sure you understand. It may help if they write it down for you.
  • If English isn’t your first language, you may be able to get help from a link worker or health advocate. Ask your health visitor or staff at your local Sure Start Children’s Centre if there’s a link worker or health advocate in your area.

How do we look after our baby’s umbilical cord? How much can our baby see? Why are their genitals swollen? Newborn babies don’t come with an instruction manual and you’re bound to have lots of questions about their behaviour and appearance to begin with.

You’ll find some of the answers you need in Getting to know your newborn and UNICEF's guide to Building a happy baby.

When your baby arrives, you can find advice on all the essentials of caring for your baby, including breastfeeding, bottle feeding, changing nappies, and washing your baby. Plus:

Take a look at the Public Health Agency’s Birth to Five booklet; for more advice.

It is common for babies to be sick in the early weeks as they get used to feeding and their bodies develop. Bringing up small amounts of milk is known as possetting. When your baby vomits there will be a much larger amount. It can be frightening for your baby, so they are likely to cry. Lots of things can cause your baby to be sick.

Make sure your baby is positioned correctly when breast or bottle feeding. Incorrect positioning can cause a baby to be sick. Ask your health visitor for advice about positioning.

Being sick often or with large amounts may be due to gastric reflux where acid from the tummy can come up again. Babies can be grumpy and it can sometimes lead to poor feeding. If your baby is feeding well but doesn't seem themselves, you may just need to change the baby's position during a feed to make them more upright. Feeding smaller amounts and more often may also help.

If a young baby cannot keep any milk down, stops wetting his or her nappies or develops green-yellow forceful vomiting speak to your GP straight away.

If your baby cries suddenly and often, but they otherwise appear to be happy and healthy, they may have colic. Colic is common and although uncomfortable it is not serious and usually affects babies only in the first few months of their lives. The most common symptom of colic is continuous crying, which typically occurs in the late afternoon or evening. Other signs include a flushed appearance, drawing their legs to their chest, clenching fists, passing wind and trouble sleeping.

Colic is a common problem and usually gets better by itself by six months of age. If your baby's crying seems different in any way (such as a very high-pitched cry or a whimper), then seek medical advice.

You can also seek advice about excessively crying or sleepless children from the support group Cry-sis, which has a website (available at and a national telephone helpline (0845 122 8669).

It’s normal for babies to develop rashes early on as their skin adapts to a different environment. If your baby develops a rash and seems unwell contact your GP. Most rashes are nothing to worry about but do be aware of the signs of meningitis.

Nappy rash

Nappy rash is very common and can affect lots of babies. It is usually caused when your baby's skin comes into contact with wee and poo that collects in their nappy. A nappy rash causes your baby's skin to become sore.

Most nappy rashes can be treated with a simple skincare routine and by using a cream you can get from the pharmacist. With a mild nappy rash, your baby won't normally feel too much discomfort.

Dry skin

A baby’s skin is thinner and needs extra care. Dry, flaky skin, some blemishes, blotches and slight rashes are normal in newborns and will naturally clear up. If your baby is otherwise well but has a rash and you are worried about it contact your health visitor.

Cradle cap

Cradle cap is the name given to the large greasy yellow or brown scales that appear on your baby’s scalp. Sometimes they may flake and the skin may be red. It should not cause your baby any discomfort and should settle over time. It is important not to pick at the scales as this may cause infection.

  • Massage a non-cosmetic moisturiser (emollient) which is oil based, or liquid paraffin, into the scalp (not olive oil) and leave to soak in.
  • Gently wash the scalp and use a soft baby brush or cloth and gently remove any loose scales.

 If this does not settle, the redness spreads, or your baby is itchy, then seek medical advice.

Sticky eyes are common in newborn babies and young children while their tear ducts are developing. You may see some sticky stuff in the corner of the eyes or their eyelashes may be stuck together. It normally clears up on its own, but you may have to clean your baby's eyes regularly with damp cotton wool. Use clean, cooled boiled water.

Wipe each eye from the corner by the nose outwards. Use a clean piece of cotton wool for each wipe. Remember to wash your hands before and afterwards and avoid sharing towels to prevent spreading infection.

The signs of sticky eyes can sometimes be confused with an infection called conjunctivitis. With conjunctivitis the signs are yellowy, green sticky goo which comes back regularly. If you notice this and it continues for more than 24 hours, contact your health visitor or GP. Conjunctivitis can be passed on easily, so wash your hands and use a separate towel for your baby.