Newborn infant physical examination

Your baby will have 2 check-ups after they’re born. The first after the birth and the second about 24 hours later – although it can be any time between 6 and 72 hours after.

These check-ups are done by a paediatrician, a specially trained midwife or a neonatal nurse.

What happens at your baby's check-up

When examining your baby, the health professional will check their:

  • heart
  • hips
  • testicles
  • skin
  • palate
  • eyes

They'll also weigh them and measure their length and the size of their head.

Heart

Your baby’s heartbeat is checked by listening to it with a stethoscope.

In the first week after birth, about half of all babies have an extra heart sound called a murmur. Most of these will go within a few weeks. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll be referred to a children’s doctor for more tests.

Hips

All babies have their hips checked when they’re born and again when they’re 8 weeks old.

Occasionally hips don’t fully develop. This doesn’t cause discomfort or stop your baby kicking, but could cause difficulties as they grow and start to walk.

If there are any early warning signs you'll be offered follow-up tests.

Testicles

If you have a boy, his testicles and scrotum will be checked to make sure his testicles have dropped down fully from his abdomen. If they haven’t, it’s called undescended testes.

If your baby’s testicles haven’t dropped down by the time he has his check at 6 to 8 weeks, your health professional will arrange for him to be looked at again.

Skin

Many new babies have mildly yellow skin (jaundice). In babies with darker skin this is more visible in their eyes.

If the yellow colour doesn’t go in a few days, your baby will have a blood test to see whether the jaundice is severe.

Babies who still have yellow skin or eyes after 2 weeks will always be seen by a paediatrician for more tests.

Palate

Your baby’s tongue will be pressed down and a torch will be used to check that the whole mouth looks and feels normal.

Eyes

The appearance and movement of your baby’s eyes will be checked.

The health professional is looking for cataracts (a clouding of the transparent lens inside the eye) and other conditions.

About 2 or 3 in 10,000 babies are born with problems with their eyes that need treatment.

Family history

Tell the person doing the check-up about any family medical history on your side and the baby’s father’s side, such as:

  • dislocated hips
  • heart conditions
  • cleft palate
  • testicle, eye or hearing issues

You should also tell them about health issues during pregnancy or if your baby was lying breech.

If your baby's at higher risk of certain conditions they might need more tests, such as an ultrasound scan or an appointment at an outpatient clinic.

Also on NHS inform