5 tests your newborn should have

Baby sleeping peacefully
Baby sleeping peacefully
Getty/Gallo Images

Your baby will be whisked away after birth for his health checks, here's what to expect...

1. Weight 

WHEN: Right after birth.

WHAT THEY’RE DOING: Weighing your baby, which is very important. Babies under 2.5kg at birth are called ‘low- birth-weight’, while those over 4 kg are considered big. This is still ‘normal’ for that particular baby, but babies at the low- or high-end may have problems with low blood sugar or temperature control, and may need extra monitoring and sometimes extra support. Usually, the head circumference and body length are also checked to obtain a serial measurement that is then used to monitor your baby’s growth and development. 

2. Eye check 

WHEN: Within 72 hours 

WHAT THEY’RE DOING: Assessing the health of your baby’s eyes and looking for any abnormalities of the eyeball, cornea and retina. They’re also checking for the ‘red reflex’ – a reflection from the retina when a light from an ophthalmoscope is shone into the eyes. Any other colours may require a referral to an ophthalmologist.

3. Heart and lungs

WHEN: Within minutes of delivery, once stabilised, and every time your baby is seen by a professional afterwards.

WHAT THEY’RE DOING: Making sure there’s no fluid in his lungs while monitoring his breathing pattern. They’re also measuring the amount of oxygen in his blood via a non-invasive probe. 

4. Reflexes check 

WHEN: Within 72 hours

WHAT THEY’RE DOING: Checking her bones, joints, muscles, nerves, brain function, sucking, rooting and swallowing reflexes, ability to grasp, and his Moro reflex (his reaction when his head is gently ‘dropped’ downwards). The normal response is a ‘startled’ one, with arms and legs moving outwards and brought back in again. 

5. Hearing 

WHEN: Within the first few days after delivery.

WHAT THEY’RE DOING: Testing the cochlear function, the part of the inner ear that receives and processes sound. A good screening test is the OAE (oto-acoustic emissions) where a miniature earphone and microphone are placed in the ear. Sounds are then played and the response is measured. 

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