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What does a child health nurse do?

6-minute read

Key facts

  • Once you’re home with your newborn baby, your local child health nurse is a great source of support for you as a parent.
  • Your child health nurse will regularly check your baby’s growth and development and can answer questions and offer advice about caring for your baby.
  • Each Australian State and Territory has its own guidelines for how often babies and children should have a health check.
  • Most children and babies have about 5 to 10 child health visits from birth until school age.
  • Child health nurse services are free for families with children up to the age at which they start school.

What is a child health nurse?

A child and family health nurse is a registered nurse with extra qualifications in child and family health nursing. Most are also registered midwives (in Victoria, all child health nurses are midwives).

Child and family health nurses are also known as 'maternal and child health nurses' (in Victoria), 'community health nurses' (in Western Australia) and 'child health nurses' (in Queensland).

When will I meet my child health nurse?

In many parts of Australia, your maternity hospital or midwife will tell your local child health clinic about your new baby. The nurse will probably contact you 1 to 2 weeks after your baby is born to make an appointment for the first visit. Often, this first visit is at your home.

In some states and territories, or if you move to a new area with a young child, you may need to get in touch with the service yourself. If you aren’t sure, it’s a good idea to ask your hospital midwife or doctor before you return home with your new baby. You can also contact your local council or health service, or follow the links below to find a local service.

What does a child health nurse do?

Your child and family health nurse will usually offer:

Every newborn receives an Infant Health Record from the hospital or birth centre where they're born. This book is often referred to by a colour, such as the 'blue book' or 'green book'. Its colour will depend on the state in which you live.

Your child's health and development information is recorded in this book. You should always bring your child's Infant Health Record to appointments with your child health nurse or any health professional, such as your doctor.

What happens at a child health nurse visit?

At these visits, the nurse will weigh and measure your child. They will also check that your child is reaching major developmental milestones. As your child grows, you might discuss issues such as crawling and walking, toilet training, play, tantrums and speech.

If your baby's development seems delayed, your nurse may suggest a visit to your doctor or other health professional — for example, a speech pathologist for speech delays.

You can also visit the nurse at other times; for example, if you have any concerns or difficulties, or you want to weigh your baby.

If your baby is sick, it is best to see your doctor if you can. If you can't or they're not available, see your child health nurse.

What questions should I ask my child health nurse?

It is important to ask questions, especially if you don’t understand what your child health nurse is saying or need more information.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder to help you form a list of questions to ask your GP or specialist. You can print this off and take it with you to your appointment.

How often will I see my child health nurse?

Your child and family health nurse can schedule health check visits until your child reaches school age.

Each Australian State and Territory has its own guidelines for how often babies and children should have a health check. Most babies and children will see their child health nurse at least 5 to 10 times from birth until school age.

Do I have to pay to see a child health nurse?

No. Child health nurse services are free for families with children up to the age at which they start school.

Resources and support

To find your local child health service, go to:

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2023

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Need more information?

Your child and family health nurse | Raising Children Network

Your child and family health nurse can help you with feeding your baby, learning about baby sleep and making sure your baby or child is growing well.

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Child and family health services - Programs

Child and family health nurses play a key role in the provision of community child and family health services and provide early contact with families.

Read more on NSW Health website

Community Child Health Program | WA Health

Community child health nurses support all families with young children. We provide a range of important free services to support families to raise happy, healthy children. We offer health and development assessments and screening, immunisation advice and support to families with young children.

Read more on WA Health website

Breast refusal and baby biting breast | Raising Children Network

Breast refusal or baby biting breast are common breastfeeding issues. These issues might resolve themselves, or your child and family health nurse can help.

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Routine health checks for babies and children

Routine health checks with a child health nurse or GP will check your child's growth and development and keep up to date with their routine vaccinations.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Child and Family Health Service • Torrens House

Families are encouraged to talk to their CaFHS nurse about their individual situation, and the nurse may refer to Torrens House as the next step

Read more on Child and Family Health Service website

Baby and child screening and assessment clinics | NT.GOV.AU

The Child Health Service runs health and development screening and assessments for your baby and child.

Read more on NT Health website

Nurses: for parents & kids | Raising Children Network

Different kinds of nurses work with children. Your child might sometimes see a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, practice nurse or school nurse.

Read more on website

Regular baby health checks | NSW Government

Information on when to take your baby for a health check, get a copy of the NSW blue book and find a child and family health centre.

Read more on NSW Health website

WA: parenting & family services | Raising Children Network

This guide has links and contact details for child, parent and family services and support in Western Australia.

Read more on website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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