Health visiting

Details of the Health Visiting Service, which is based around the Healthy Child Programme.

What are Health Visitors?

Health Visitors are qualified nurses or midwives with specialist community public health training. Health Visitors provide families with children aged 0–5 years, with: 

  • support for the health and wellbeing of your whole family, providing antenatal visits, a visit after the midwife ends her care once your baby has arrived, and support and advice until your child goes to school.  
  • advice on healthy choices, e.g. breastfeeding, weaning and healthy eating.
  • development reviews to ensure your child is reaching their full potential.
  • the childhood immunisation programme, which ensures your child is protected against disease and infection.
  • information about specific difficulties, such as postnatal depression.
  • support for your whole family into education, training or work.
  • advice and information on wider issues such as housing problems, domestic abuse or child abuse.
  • help with specialist services to support additional needs, e.g. speech and language therapists.
  • support for you to feel confident in your parenting skills and to provide the best opportunities for your baby.

Within Suffolk, our Health Visiting teams are integrated with our Children’s Centres, providing a range of services to help you and your family stay safe, happy and healthy.

We also work alongside other agencies such as GPs, midwives, school nurses, early years’ settings, voluntary and community groups, and children's services. 

How can the Health and Children’s Centre team help me?

Some parents find the early years of a child’s life both satisfying and rewarding but also challenging and frustrating. This is where the Health and Children’s Centre team can help you.  By working together, we can help ease some of the worries of being a parent, and support you and your family to raise a happy and healthy child.

The Healthy Child Programme that you and your baby will be offered includes regular health and development reviews during their early years which will be carried out by your Health and Children’s Centre team.  This is recommended to make sure that your child stays healthy and is developing normally.  Reviews can be done in your home, GP surgery, clinic, or Children’s Centre, and provide you with time to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have.

Here is a contact list of our health visiting teams.  Please note, our Health Visiting Service does not include Lowestoft and Waveney areas, which are covered by East Coast Community Healthcare 

For more information about your local Health and Children's Centres go to the Suffolk Health and Children's Centres page

Further information regarding what to expect at health and development reviews can be found on NHS Choices.

Information on clinics, can be found on our Suffolk Infolink web page.

Below you can find lots of useful information and advice on a range of topics, and useful leaflets and resources that your health visitor may go through with you (click the + sign for details):

Image of a baby boy

Best beginnings: 

Resources that give parents the knowledge and confidence they need to look after their own mental and physical health and to maximise their child's development. Baby Buddy is a free app that guides you through pregnancy, birth, parenting and beyond. Go to the Best Beginnings website.

Understanding you:

Unfamiliar feelings of anxiety and depression can often develop suddenly and range from mild to extremely severe, requiring different kinds of support or treatment.  It is normal for new parents to experience broken sleep, relationship changes and impaired physical health as a result of pregnancy and giving birth and often new parents dismiss their symptoms as a result of these changes. Healthy Suffolk have a helpful web page with information, advice and guidance including a downloadable leaflet on baby blues. 

Go to: Healthy Suffolk maternal mental health.

Understanding baby: 

The Institute of Health Visiting has some helpful factsheets to find expert advice on key areas of looking after your new baby, from when they are born to when they go to school. 

Go to the Institute of Health Visiting website.

Unicef - Infant feeding:

What happens in your baby’s first years has a big effect on how healthy he or she will be in the future. The 'Off to a better start’ leaflet from Unicef contains important information about feeding your baby. 

Get the Unicef Infant Feeding leaflet.

Unicef - Building a happy baby:

Advice and information for parents on getting to know their baby and setting up the foundations for a close and loving relationship, with a downloadable leaflet. 

Go to the Unicef building a happy baby page.

Safer sleep:

The Lullaby Trust safer sleep advice gives simple steps for how your baby should sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) which is more commonly known as cot death. The advice can give you the peace of mind to enjoy this special time. 

Go to Lullaby Trust safer sleep advice.

NHS Choices: your new baby:

Advice on all the essentials of baby care, including: breastfeeding, bottle feeding, changing nappies, and washing your baby. 

Go to NHS Choices: your new baby.

Healthy Suffolk - children and young people: 

Information and advice services available in Suffolk. 

Go to Healthy Suffolk advice services.

Image of a toddler girl sitting with a bow in her hair

ERIC leaflet - potty and toilet training:

Helps parents/carers to recognise when their child is ready to start toilet training, how to prepare, and what to do to make it a success. 

Go to ERIC's guide to potty training.

Understanding childhood leaflets:

Young children react very differently to the triumphs and setbacks of their second and third years, so they need different kinds of support from their parents.  This website and the downloadable leaflets talk through what to expect and how, as a parent, you can help.              

Go to the Understanding Childhood website.

NHS Choices:  

Advice on all the essentials of toddler care, including toilet training, play, speech, and managing temper tantrums. 

Go to NHS Choices Babies and toddlers, and click on the 'Learning, play and behaviour' option.

 

Image of a boy sitting on the floor drawing

 

NHS Choices: 

Advice on all the essentials for caring for your child, including first day of school and separation anxiety.

Go to NHS Choices starting school.

School nursing: 

Information of the school nursing service in Suffolk.

Go to Suffolk school nursing.

Emotional Wellbeing Hub: 

Information and advice if you are concerned about the emotional wellbeing and mental health of your child or young person aged 0-25 years.

Go to the Emotional Wellbeing Hub.

Each year 40,000 under-fives are admitted to hospital following accidents, and lots of these accidents are preventable.

Your Health and Children’s Centre Team can advise you regarding accident prevention in the home and may also contact you following your child’s attendance at A&E to offer any on going support if needed. 

Below are useful websites with information on what to do if your child has an accident:

NHS Choices Accidents, first aid and treatments

NHS Choices What to do if your child has an accident

Institute of Health Visiting Top Tips for Parents

Child and Accident Prevention Trust

 

A staggering 44% of British adults now suffer from at least one allergy and the number of sufferers is on the rise, growing by around 2 million between 2008 and 2009 alone.

The most common causes of allergic reactions are:

  • pollen from trees and grasses
  • proteins secreted from house dust mites
  • moulds
  • foods - such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and eggs
  • pets - such as cats and dogs, and other furry or hairy animals such as horses, rabbits, and guinea pigs 
  • insects - such as wasps and bees 
  • medicines (these may cause reactions by binding to proteins in the blood, which then trigger the reaction).

Below are useful websites with information on allergies:

NHS Choices - Allergies

Allergy UK

Anaphylaxis Campaign

 

It's important to make sure that you get all the help that you're entitled to. The following websites provide information on benefits and tax credits if you are working or unemployed, sick or disabled, a parent, a young person, an older person or a veteran. There is also information about council tax and housing costs, national insurance, payment of benefits and problems with benefits.

Below are some useful websites for benefits advice which you can refer to:

Citizens Advice website

GOV.UK benefits information

 

Bereavement is one of the most painful emotions the human body has to deal with during our lifetime.  Grief is a natural process, but it can be devastating. There are also lots of national and local support groups, some of which are listed below.  If this is affecting you or your family at this time, you can contact your Health and children Centre Team for support.

Below are useful websites with information on bereavement support:

NHS Choices bereavement information

Suffolk Cruse Bereavement Care

Suffolk Bereavement support organisations

Government bereavement support payment information

Lullaby Trust bereavement support

 

For advice about finding and choosing childcare and how to access the funded early education entitlement for 2, 3 and 4-year old children, please visit: Childcare information and support for parents and providers.

Sometimes marriages and relationships end in divorce or separation and couples have to go their separate ways. If you have children, it’s important that your break-up goes as smoothly as possible to have as little impact on them as you can manage as relationship break down can affect all other areas of your life. If this is affecting you or your family at this time, you can contact your Health and children Centre Team for support.

Below are links to useful websites with guidance to help you make this difficult transition easier for you and your family.

Relate relationship support website

Children in Divorce and Separation (CIDAS)

 

Everyone has the right to live without violence and fear. Domestic violence includes any form of physical, sexual or emotional abuse between people within a close relationship.  It affects women, men and children, and can happen in any family, immaterial of class, religion or culture. It is estimated to occur in a quarter of all households. If this is affecting you or your family at this time, you can contact your Health and Children's Centre team for support.  

Here are some links to websites to access help and support:

Suffolk Police - Domestic Abuse

Government guidance on domestic violence and abuse

Suffolk County Council - domestic abuse help and advice

New Dawn Suffolk website

Helpguide.org - Domestic Violence and Abuse

Victim Support - Domestic abuse

Women's Aid - What is domestic abuse?

Lighthouse Women's Aid

 

Drug and alcohol misuse are two significant issues facing people today and they can be very harmful to your physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

Drug and alcohol treatment services for adults and young people in Suffolk are provided by Turning Point in conjunction with Suffolk Family Carers and Iceni. 

Below are useful websites with information on drug and alcohol support: 

Healthy Suffolk - Drugs and Alcohol

NHS Choices - Drug addiction: getting help

 

A well-balanced diet is essential for children in their early years and starts with establishing good eating patterns necessary to ensure they grow and develop appropriately.

Your Health and Children’s Centre team can offer you advice around healthy eating habits and how to boost your child’s relationship with food as well as helping to deal with the challenges that may arise. They are available to provide support in order for you to give the best opportunity for your child to growth into a healthy and confident adult.

Healthy Start Vitamins are available to some families from your Health & Children’s Centre team. For more information and eligibility see Healthy Start vitamins.

You may also find the following websites useful:

NHS Choices – Your baby’s first solid foods

Vitamin D

Healthy Start NHS website

First Steps Nutrition Trust

NHS Start4Life

Unicef

Change4Life - Fun ideas to help your kids stay healthy

Henry - Healthy Start, Brighter Future

One Life Suffolk - helping people lead healthier lives

iCash - Integrated Contraception and Sexual Health services

 

If you're homeless, or at risk of losing your home, we maybe able to provide you with housing related support.

Housing related support can help to resolve the problems that are contributing to your housing issues, including:

  • managing your mental or physical health
  • problems with drugs or alcohol
  • difficulties managing a budget or paying your rent or mortgage
  • problems getting or staying in work or education

Here are useful links for housing advice:

Suffolk County Council - Housing help and support

Suffolk Infolink - Homelessness and housing advice

As a parent, you may not like seeing your baby or child being given an injection. However, vaccination will help protect them against a range of serious and potentially fatal diseases.

There are 3 good reasons to have your child vaccinated:

  • vaccinations are quick, safe and extremely effective
  • once your child has been vaccinated against a disease, their body can fight it off better
  • if a child isn't vaccinated, they're at higher risk of catching – and becoming very ill from – the illness

Information on the childhood immunisation schedule including the ages at which they should ideally be given, reasons for vaccinating, and managing side effects can be found on NHS Choices – When to have vaccinations.

If you’re not sure whether you or your child has had all your routine vaccinations, ask your GP surgery to find out for you.

You may also find this information helpful:

NHS Choices - vaccines timeline 

NHS Choices - reasons to have your child vaccinated

 

Knowing what to expect in terms of feeding your baby should help you feel as confident as possible when you have just given birth. 

Antenatal sessions, whether held by the NHS or another organisation, should cover the most important aspects of infant feeding, such as, attachment, positioning, expressing, common questions and concerns, and how to overcome them.

Your Health and Children’s Centre Team can help you with any concerns regarding responsive infant feeding. There are also lots of groups and drop-ins for you to attend for support and advice with responsive infant feeding.

The below websites and information that you may find useful: 

UNICEF Breastfeeding Guide

NHS Choices – Breastfeeding: the first few days

Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative

Unicef - caring for your baby at night

NHS Start4life website

Start4life - Off to the best start leaflet

Start4life - Introducing solid foods

Start4life - guide to bottle feeding leaflet

Breastfeeding Network

Healthy Suffolk - breastfeeding information

Breastfeeding Friend from Start4Life on Amazon Alexa

Breastfeeding Friend from Start4Life on Google Home and Assistant

First Steps Nutrition website

Vitamin D

 

Children develop more rapidly during the first five years of their lives than at any other time. A booklet has been written to help you as a parent know what to expect during these vitally important years by focusing on the seven areas of learning and development which are covered in this Early Years Foundation Stage Parent Guide.  

Your child’s development is a continuous process that is unique to your child.  Each baby child and young person does not progress at the same rate.

Your Health and Children’s Centre team can support you to help your child achieve their potential.  The team will offer you routine contacts to review your baby’s development. This ensures that early help can be put in place for you and your child should you need it. 

If you are concerned about your baby, child or young person’s health and development please contact your general practitioner or Health and Children’s Centre team at any time.

You may find the websites and information below helpful:

Gov.uk - Early Years Foundation Stage

NHS Start4life - Baby

 

Your Health Visitor is a nurse who can offer you advice on your child’s health, working in partnership with your General Practitioner (GP).

If you are concerned about your child’s health, contact your GP to discuss the symptoms, or contact 111 for further advice.

It can be difficult to tell when a baby, toddler or child is seriously ill, but the main thing is to trust your instincts. You know better than anyone else what your child is usually like, so you’ll know when something is seriously wrong. If your child requires urgent attention call 999.

Below you can find useful websites and information:

NHS Choices - Does your child have a serious illness?

NHS Choices - Sepsis information

NHS Choices - Meningitis Symptoms

NHS Choices - Spotting signs of a serious illness

NHS Choices - Childhood illness

Institute of Health Visiting - Top tips for parents

 

Being pregnant is a time of change, but this can also be a time of feeling worried, fearful, excited and joyful.  Although all of these feelings are completely normal, for many women some of these changes can be distressing and more severe.

The ‘baby blues’ are due to the sudden hormonal and chemical changes that take place in your body after childbirth.  This can affect many women and should only last for a few days.  However, for some women these symptoms can be more severe and last longer, and could be Postnatal Depression.

Depression and anxiety is thought to affect 15–20% of women in the first year after childbirth.

Signs of postnatal depression may include:

  • feelings of being unable to cope, hopelessness and excessive anxiety
  • not being able to stop crying
  • panic attacks
  • concerns about bonding with your baby

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please talk to a Health Visitor or someone you trust.  Your Health and Children’s Centre team are trained to recognise postnatal depression and anxiety and have techniques and resources that can help you.

It’s also important to see your GP.  If you don’t feel up to making an appointment, ask someone to do it for you.

Below you can find other useful websites and information:

Tommy's Wellbeing Plan

NHS Choices - Post-natal depression information

Emotional Wellbeing Gateway website

 

Being a parent is one of the most important jobs there is, it has amazing rewards, but it can also be very challenging.  If you would like some support with any aspect of parenting, please contact your Health and Children's Centre team.

You can also find parenting advice and support to help with your child's development via The Parent Hub

You may find the below websites and resources useful:

NHS Choices - Dealing with child behaviour problems

Institute of Health Visiting - Top tips for parents

NSPCC - Positive parenting leaflet

Leaving Children Home Alone

 

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/advice-and-info/home-alone-guide-keeping-child-safe.pdf

The first day at school can be challenging for both children and parents, but with a little preparation it will be easier for you to cope.

Some of the key skills to help your child develop before they start school are:

  • Going to the toilet
  • Washing their hands
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Using a tissue
  • Tidying up
  • Feeding themselves
  • Knowing how to share

If you feel you would like support, your Health and Children’s Centre team can help you with techniques to encourage these skills and behaviours.

You may find the below websites helpful:

NHS Choices - Your child's first day at school

Pacey - Being school ready

 

One of the biggest challenges for new parents is getting used to the changes that a baby will bring to their night-time routine.

Unicef's 'Caring for your baby at night' leaflet is designed to offer helpful, practical advice on coping at night and covers getting some rest, night feeding, safe sleeping environments and helping baby to settle.

If you are struggling with sleep issues for your baby or child, please feel free to contact your Health and Children’s Centre team. 

Below you are some useful websites for further information:

NHS Choices - children's sleep

Lullaby Trust website

 

If you have a question about your child's health or development speak to your health visitor, nursery worker, GP or a professional who works with them. 

For further information, support, and guidance for parents and carers, go to the Suffolk Local Offer website.

You may also find the below information useful:

Gov.uk - Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children

 

Over one million children in the UK have some kind of speech language and communication needs. This is known as SLCN for short.

Every child is different. Their needs depend on different factors, including:

  • Which areas of speech, language and communication they struggle with
  • How severely these areas are affected
  • What skills and strengths they have
  • How they need to use their skills
  • Their level of confidence and self-esteem

If you are worried about your child’s speech and language, you can contact your Health and Children’s Centre team.

You may find the following links useful:

Talking Point

ICAN

The Communication Trust - resources for parents

Afasic - voice for life

Action for stammering children

The British Stammering Association

When it comes to teething, all babies are different. Your baby will probably get their first tooth some time during their first year.

Your Health and Children’s Centre team member will give you a dental pack during your child’s routine one-year development review.

If you have any concerns regarding your baby’s teething and dental health, please contact your Health and Children’s Centre team for advice, or attend one of the drop-in Child Health Clinics.

Below you can find some advice on looking after your baby/child’s teeth:

NHS Choices - babies and toddlers information

To find a dentist locally, please visit the NHS Choices website or contact NHS England on 0300 311223.

 

Toilet training is an important milestone and a new skill for your child to learn.  Every child is different, so it’s best not to compare your child with others.

Your Health and Children's Centre Team can advise you on how to gauge if your child is ready for toilet training and give you some tips on how best to start this.

Below you can find websites with a good source of information about toilet training help and advice:

NHS Choices - How to potty train

ERIC - When to start potty training

 

Other information 

If you think a child or young person is at risk of abuse, harm or neglect please call 0808 800 4005. 

This is a 24-hour service staffed by a team of professional people who will listen to your concerns and take 

appropriate actions. For more information, including live web chat, please contact Customer First.                                                                                                 

For job vacancies in health visiting go to Suffolk Jobs Direct to search for job vacancies in health.

The West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has produced some informative health service guides, which detail the contacts of health visitors and school nursing.

For details of how we use your personal information, please read Suffolk County Council's corporate Privacy Notice.