Child and Family Health Services provides free health checks for South Australian children at key developmental ages between birth and 6 years. These checks are recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) and are offered at:
- 1-4 weeks (at the first home visit)
- 6 weeks
- 6-9 months
- 18 to 24 months
- Preschool age.
Children can also be seen at any age when parents have concerns, questions or issues. (See the topic Health checks)
Preschool Health Check
Child and Family Health Service (CaFHS) offers preschool healthchecks to all South Australian children to help you to ensure your child is healthy, fit and ready to learn when they start school.
In response to COVID-19, CaFHS is offering preschool health checks via phone/video consultations with parents/caregivers, instead of through face to face appointments at kindergartens and preschool centres across the State.
You can expect to receive a letter from your child’s kindergarten or preschool centre containing information about how to complete your child’s health check. Read through the information if you have any concerns, we encourage you to call CaFHS on 1300 733 606 and make an appointment with a preschool health nurse.
You can also find some information below about the areas that form part of the preschool health check. You are encouraged to read through and write down any area that you have concerns about and wish to discuss with your CaFHS preschool health nurse.
Alternatively, your child’s ‘Blue Book’ contains further information on hearing and vision, development and growth, teeth and dental health and immunisations.
Growth and Nutrition
Monitoring your child’s weight and height helps to check that they are growing well. If you have scales at home, you can weigh your child and plot their growth on the charts in your child’s ‘Blue Book’. Concerning patterns of growth may include:
- weight below the lowest percentile line on the graph
- weight above the highest percentile line on the chart
- weight increasing or decreasing across 2 or more percentile lines.
It’s important to look at how your child’s growth plots over time on the growth charts, rather than where they sit on the graph at any one point in time. If you have any concerns about your child’s growth, you can discuss this with your GP or make an appointment with a CaFHS nurse.
Getting pre-schoolers to eat a healthy diet can sometimes be challenging. It is important to ensure your child is eating healthy foods and is developing healthy eating habits. Some practical tips and resources can be found below:
Good vision is essential to your child’s overall development. Vision disorders can interfere with your child’s ability to learn and perform daily activities.
- Do your child’s eyes appear to cross or wander?
- Have you noticed anything unusual about your child's vision?
- Does your child hold things close?
- Does your child squint?
- Have your child's eyes been injured?
- Is there any family history of serious childhood eye disease?
- Do you have any concerns about your child’s vision?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, we recommend seeing your GP or local optometrist for further assessment. More information can be found at Optometry South Australia.
Did you know that one in ten children suffer from hearing loss? If left undetected, this can affect your child’s learning, socialising and overall quality of life. There are many reasons hearing can be affected including ear infections and family history.
Some signs that your pre-schooler may have trouble hearing include:
- Not responding when called
- Complaining about a ringing sound in their ears (tinnitus)
- Pronouncing words incorrectly
If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, CaFHS recommends seeing your GP for a healthy ears assessment.
Sound Scouts is a great app that provides mobile access for a hearing check that delivers an immediate report for parents/caregivers, including next steps if a hearing loss is detected. You can download the app here - Sound Scouts.
Did you know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience some of the highest levels of ear disease and hearing loss in the world, with rates up to 10 times more than those for non-Indigenous Australians? Want more information? Deadly Kids SA is a great resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as it promotes ideal ear and hearing health.
Have you checked your child’s teeth and gums lately? Healthy teeth and gums are vital to your pre-schooler’s general health. It is recommended to check your child’s teeth and gums every month for tooth decay. This Lift the Lip Poster illustrates simply lifting the upper lip and checking the outer surface of the front teeth and help you to recognise signs of tooth decay. If you are concerned about your child’s teeth or gums, please contact SA Dental Clinics.
Here are some great tips for pre-schoolers aged 3 – 5 years to Keep Smiling.
Development is all about how your child grows physically and emotionally while learning to communicate, think and socialise. All children are different and some will do things faster or slower than others. Here is a Child Development Checklist for parents/caregivers to see how their child is developing. Remember, if you have any concerns or questions, please contact your GP or CaFHS for further support.
Speech and Language
Children's Communication Milestones, produced by Speech Pathology Australia, provide a series of information sheets for parents/caregivers to better understand the different speech milestones for children aged 1-5 years. The information sheets can help find a Speech Pathologist if you are unsure about whether your child is having difficulty with his or her speech, language and communication.
Immunisation is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your children, and others in our community against certain diseases.
Immunisation is a simple, safe and highly effective way of protecting children and adults from harmful diseases before they come into contact with them. It is estimated that vaccinations currently save up to 2.5 million lives worldwide each year.
It is important for children to complete the full recommended course or schedule of vaccinations at the recommended times. Sometimes it is possible to ‘catch-up’ the doses if the vaccinations are not given on time. Not getting the full course of vaccinations can leave a child unprotected and at risk of disease.
At 4 years
At this age, your child will get one immunisation to protect your child from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio. It’s given by a single injection, usually in the arm.
For further information about children and immunisations, check out Department of Health’s ‘Questions about Vaccinations’ booklet.
To view the entire childhood vaccination program schedule, check out the dedicated page on SA Health’s website.
Where to go for help
Contact your local GP, kindergarten or CaFHS on 1300 733 606 for further support and formation.
The Commonwealth funded Raising Children website is a great online resource for all child, family and parenting related information.
All Child and Family Health Services are free and statewide in South Australia. They are provided by qualified nurses, medical staff, social workers, physiotherapists and Indigenous Cultural Consultants.