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Baby and early childhood health issues and concerns

Health checks

Health checks for children aged 0–12 years are available through child health clinics.  At these clinics, a child health nurse can give you advice and check your child’s development such as:

  • weight, height, body mass index (BMI), and length
  • clinical measurements—for example, breathing and developmental reflexes
  • vision
  • hearing.


Talk to a child health nurse or find your nearest child health centre by calling 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or find a community health centre by location.

Nutrition

Good nutrition is a key part of raising healthy and happy children.

In Australia, obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise.  You can help prevent obesity and related health problems by feeding your children a balanced, healthy diet.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines (PDF, 1.85MB)  are a great source of information to help your family stay healthy throughout their lives.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding helps give babies the best start for a healthy life, and gives mothers the best chance for better health and wellbeing.

It is recommended that babies are exclusively breastfed until they are 6 months old. Solid foods can then be introduced in addition to continued breastfeeding to 12 months and beyond.

Breastfeeding is a natural process, but for some it is a learnt skill that mother and baby need to practise.
Successful breastfeeding requires the support of partners, families and health carers. Breastfeeding mothers returning to work also need support from their employers.

Benefits of breastfeeding

For mothers

  • Helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnant state faster
  • Helps women lose weight after the baby’s birth
  • Reduces the risk of:
    • ovarian cancer and pre-menopausal breast cancer
    • osteoporosis
    • type 2 diabetes (for mothers with gestational diabetes).

For the baby

Babies who are fed breastmilk have a lower risk of:

  • gastrointestinal (gut) illness
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • some childhood cancers
  • chest infections
  • urinary tract infections
  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) also known as cot death.

In general, breastmilk: 

  • has important nutrients, which are not found in infant formula, that build the baby’s immune system
  • changes from feed to feed to suit each baby’s unique needs, making it the perfect food for the baby’s healthy growth and development
  • is more easily digested than infant formula. Breastfed babies are rarely constipated and are less likely to get diarrhoea
  • has no waste products and does not leave a carbon footprint.

Find out more about breastfeeding or get support at the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Bottle-feeding

Some parents may need to bottle-feed their baby.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association also supports parents who bottle-feed.

Introducing solid foods

Introducing solid foods to a baby’s diet is a gradual process and personal for each parent and baby.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association gives helpful advice for parents introducing solid foods to their baby’s diet.

Keeping your baby safe

Injury is the leading cause of death and disability among Queensland children. More children die from injury in Queensland than any other place in Australia.

Unfortunately, the most common place where children's injuries occur is at home.

As you care for your baby and watch them grow, keep alert to all the ways they can unintentionally hurt themselves.

The most common injuries are:

  • falls
  • drowning (and immersions)
  • burns and scalds
  • poisonings.


Most accidents are preventable.

Letting children explore, take risks and try new things are all crucial parts of their development—but it is important to try to reduce the number and severity of their injuries.

Find out more about keeping your baby safe.

Read about babies and first aid.

Safe sleeping for babies

You can reduce the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI), including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), by following these national safe sleeping recommendations:

  • Place the baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side.
  • Place the baby with face uncovered (no doonas, pillows, lambs wool, bumpers or soft toys).
  • Avoid exposing babies to tobacco smoke before and after birth.
  • Provide a safe sleeping environment (safe cot, safe mattress, and safe bedding).
  • Place the baby next to the parent's bed for the first 6–12 months.


Visit SIDS and Kids for more information.

Teething

When toddlers and babies are teething it can be a trying time for them and their parents. Learn how to recognise the signs of teething problems and how to help soothe your baby.

Teething problems

Some babies and toddlers may experience teething problems, such as:

  • red swollen gums
  • irritability and restlessness 
  • flushed cheeks or fever 
  • dribbling 
  • finger and fist sucking.

Any teething problems should only be temporary. If pain persists and causes sleeplessness, ask a health professional (pharmacist, doctor, child health nurse or dentist) for advice.

Mild teething problems may be eased by letting the baby chew on objects such as:

  • crusts of bread 
  • rusks (a type of biscuit)
  • a teething ring.

Rubbing your child's gums with your finger, or applying a small amount of teething gel may also help ease the pain.

Remember:

  • teething should not cause severe illness
  • if your child has a fever or diarrhoea, see your doctor.

Looking after teeth

Brushing should start as soon as the first tooth appears.  Low fluoride toothpaste is recommended for children under 6.

View advice on oral care for babies, infants and children.

Immunisation

To provide the best protection, your child should receive all of their recommended vaccinations.  

Further information

 Visit the Australian parenting website Raising Children Network.

 

Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
10 July 2014

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