Health Visiting Service

Health visitors are registered nurses who have professional experience in child development and family health. They work as part of a team with community nursery nurses to promote good health and to help with the prevention of illness in all age groups in line with the Department of Health “Healthy Child Programme”

The Health Visiting team works with parents and carers who have children under five, providing advice and support on the following  

  • Peri-natal mental health 
  • Infant feeding 
  • Healthy lifestyles 
  • SEND
  • Parenting 
  • Child development 

Startwell provides integrated health, council and voluntary services to support families from pregnancy until their child starts school at age 5.

Your health visiting team

We work with parents and children from mid-pregnancy until your child attends school. We are all registered nurses or midwives who have also completed additional training in public health, which includes child development, infant feeding and nutrition, and child and family health. 

We work in teams with Community Nursery Nurses and also work closely with a number of other community and voluntary sectors.  These services include GP surgeries, midwives, paediatricians, children’s centres, Early Help teams and other Sutton Health and Care partners.

We can often signpost you to the most appropriate organisation or professional in order to help give your child the best start in life.

We know that what happens during pregnancy and in the first years of a child’s life has a big impact on their future development and opportunities later in life. Transitioning to becoming a parent is a time of change. The role of the Health Visiting Service aims to promote and support parents with the changes. Therefore we work closely with other services to ensure that you have access to the right support at the right time if that is what you want and need.

Families whose first language is not English can be visited or seen in a clinic with an interpreter alongside the Health Visitor to ensure your family’s health needs are addressed. The Health Visiting team can arrange this for you, please see contact details listed (right).

For up to date activities and events:

 www.facebook.com/suttonhealthvisiting  

 https://www.sutton.gov.uk/

Ante-natal contact

There are opportunities to interact with your Health Visitor before your baby is born.

Your health visitor may contact you before your baby is born between 28-36 weeks of pregnancy.

During this contact your health visitor will talk to you about:

  • How your pregnancy has been going
  • What support you have to help you with your baby
  • How you would like to feed your baby
  • If you have any concerns about becoming a parent.
  • What to expect after your baby is born

New birth visit (when your baby is around 10 – 14 days old)

Your health visitor will contact you to arrange an appointment when your baby is between 10-14 days old for a new birth visit. 

This is when your midwife will normally hand over care of you and your baby to your Health Visitor.

At this visit your health visitor will: 

  • Ask how you are feeling emotionally following the birth of your baby 
  • Check if you have any concerns about your health or your partner's health
  • Tell you about the immunisations your baby needs
  • Vaccines -are they safe for my baby 
  • Discuss and support feeding your baby

You will receive your baby’s child health record (red book) from the midwife. This is your book that you keep on behalf of your child and your Health Visitor will show you how to use it as a record of how your child is growing. It also contains information about immunisations and a guide to key developmental milestones. 

In addition to your child health record you can have a digital version. With eRedbook you can keep track of your child's health, be reminded of upcoming immunisations/ developmental reviews due, keep track of your child's development and read interesting articles about their development. The eRedbok can be accessed from a mobile phone, computer or laptop.

For more information and to register visit: https://www.eredbook.org.uk

Once you have registered please contact your health visiting team to have your registration vouched for.

You will also be given information about your nearest Children Centre and other local community services you may find useful.

Postnatal contact (when your baby is 6 - 8 weeks old)

This contact is important for assessing your baby’s growth and wellbeing and to see how you and your partner are feeling. This is a good time to talk about the following:

  • Your emotional health 
  • A discussion about how your baby is feeding 
  • Breastfeeding
  • Immunisations 
  • Managing expectations or worries you may have eg baby’s sleep/ crying
  • You will also be reminded about other services that provide help and support

1 year developmental review

During this contact you will be given the opportunity to discuss your babies' growth and development. You will be contacted by letter for you to arrange an appointment for your child’s review.   To help you think about your child's progress you will be sent an Ages and Stages questionnaire (ASQ).  The aim of the questionnaire is to help you understand your child's development.

You will have an opportunity to discuss the following:

  • Healthy lifestyle 
  • Immunisations 
  • Dental health 
  • Safety issues 
  • Next stages of development 

The next scheduled contact for  your child is at  2 to 2½ years old,  but you can always contact your health visitor at any time if there are any questions or concerns about your child’s development.

Developmental review (when your child is 2 – 2 ½ years old)

A member of the health visiting team will contact you to arrange an appointment to review your child’s health and developmental progress including the following:

  • Physical development for example: ability to walk, run and clamber over obstacles
  • Talking and communicating to adults and other children and discuss your child’s hearing and vision
  • Behaviour
  • Sleeping
  • Toilet training
  • Diet
  • Options for childcare and early year’s education.

We also provide ongoing support in partnership with other professionals and services for families dealing with more complex issues such as:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Mental health issues.

Perinatal mental health and emotional wellbeing

Having a baby is one of the biggest life-changing experiences you will ever have.

While this is often a happy and exciting time for you and your family, sometimes for many different reasons pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby is not easy and  you may not  feel as expected. You may experience emotional difficulties, such as low mood, depression and anxiety. 

During the first week after childbirth, many women get what's often called the "baby blues". Women can experience a low mood, feel irritable, tearful and feel mildly depressed at a time when they expected to  feel happy after having a baby. "Baby blues" are probably due to the sudden hormonal and chemical changes that take place in your body after childbirth.

If these symptoms do not resolve after a few days, or start to impact on how you live your life, you may be experiencing a perinatal mental health problem.

If you are worried about your mental health please contact your health visiting team 0208 770 5409 and/or visit your GP.

For more information please and further support visit: 

Bonding with your baby

Bonding with your baby and your baby’s emotional development 

Some parents feel an intense bond with their baby during pregnancy, within the first minutes or days after birth. For others, it may take a bit longer. Bonding is a process, not something that takes place within minutes and not something to be limited to happening within a certain time period after birth. This is important for both mums and dads.

Bonding and being close to their parents enables a baby to feel secure and affects how he/she will interact, communicate and form relationships later in life. The bond you and your baby develop is a key factor in the way your baby’s brain develops and influences his/her emotional, intellectual and physical development.

Even in the first days of life, your baby tunes into your tone of voice, your gestures and your emotions and sends you signals by crying, cooing, mimicking facial expressions and eventually smiling, laughing, pointing and even yelling. In return you watch and listen to your baby’s cries and sounds and respond sensitively to their cues. At the same time as you tend to their need for food, warmth, comfort and affection.

Your baby’s secure attachment grows out of the success of this communication process between you and your baby. With almost every touch your newborn is learning about life.

Things you can do to promote your bond with your baby include:

Keep your baby close to you, so you can listen and notice his/her signals to tell you he/she is hungry or wants a cuddle. Your baby will feel more relaxed and secure knowing you are close by.

Respond when your baby cries. Try to understand what he or she is saying to you. You can’t “spoil” babies with too much attention, they need and benefit from a parent’s love and care, even when they seem inconsolable.

Take time to have skin to skin contact with your baby. 

Breastfeed your baby if you can.

If you choose to bottle feed, hold your baby close and look into his/her eyes during feeds.

Talk, read and sing babies love to hear human voices and will try to imitate your voice and the sounds you make, hold your baby about 30cm away from your face, try to make eye contact as you do this. (If she turns away, don't feel disheartened, he/she is just taking a little break).

Baby massage: This may be available at your children’s centre or you can ask your health visitor for information about our Health Visitor Service led baby massage groups that may be offered if you are experiencing difficulties that could affect your bond with your baby.

Positive interactions, holding, and sharing happiness with your baby is really important.

Learning about your baby's different “states” will help you know when your baby is ready for play or when he/she needs a break or rest. 

More useful information about bonding, early interactions and baby states can be found at 

Play

As your baby gets a little older, try simple games and toys. Once your baby can sit up, plan on spending lots of time on the floor with toys, puzzles, and books.

Sutton Children’s Centres offer a variety of fun activities for you to share with your baby. 

Ready Steady Mums

Our volunteer-led community exercise and movement sessions are a great way of having fun and bonding with your baby. Find out more about this programme at https://www.ihv.org.uk/families

If you would like to join a local Ready Steady mums group please contact the health visiting team on 020 8770 5409 

If you are worried or having difficulties bonding with your baby, please contact your health visitor for support on 020 8770 5409.

Dads and partners

It is important to remember that dad/partners  may also experience mental health difficulties at this time. Additionally dad/partner may be finding it difficult to know how to support a partner that is suffering from perinatal mental health illness. 

For further information visit.

Sutton Men in Sheds provides opportunities for men to meet, chat, access support they need, create and pursue shared interest and develop social connections. For more information contact daniel@communityactionsutton.org.uk 

Young parents

Having a baby is one of the biggest life-changing experiences you will ever have.

While this is often a happy and exciting time for you and your family, sometimes for many different reasons, pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby is not easy.

Like all parents, teenage mothers and young fathers want to do the best for their children and some manage very well; but for many their health and relationships, education, housing and financial hardship can make it more challenging time

The Sutton Health Visiting Service offers all young parents under the age of 21 when their baby is born, additional support and visits. This is called our Enhanced Parent Pathway. The Enhanced Parent Pathway is designed to be flexible and offer the help, support and information you need. 

For more information and support for young parents:

You can contact your health visitor on 020 8770 5409 for additional support.

Community breastfeeding and infant feeding support

The infant feeding team is available to support you however you are feeding your baby. The early weeks can be challenging, if you require support with breastfeeding please come along to our virtual breastfeeding clinic. Tuesday and Thursdays 9am -1pm.

Please click on the link to join: Virtual breastfeeding clinic 

You can also meet other mums at our coffee group. Wednesday 2-4pm. Please call 020 8770 5409 to book your place.

Breastfeeding 

Responsive Bottle Feeding 

Contact the infant feeding team

Telephone: 020 8770 5409 

Email: infantfeedingteam@sutton.gov.uk 

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Your Health Visiting team can support you in identifying any additional needs your child may have.

All children develop at their own rate and have their own strengths. If you have any worries about your child’s development please discuss this with members of your health visiting team.

Your child’s progress will be assessed at routine developmental reviews between the ages of 1 year and again at 2-2.5yrs and any difficulties can be discussed and support and advice given.

If it is felt your child would benefit from further extra support, the HV team works with a number of different agencies that can support your child. These may be speech therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, community paediatrician, audiology and Portage service. Referrals to all these services can be made by a member of the health visiting team.

Sutton’s local offer website helps children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families to find information about services that are available in their local area: https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200611/suttons_local_offer

Playwise

Playwise Learning CIC (Community Interest Company) has been established to offer parents and carers of young disabled children and the professionals that support them with a wider range of services to help reduce the impact of disability and SEND and support families on their journey. Playwise offers new, innovative and bespoke interventions for families either at home, the community hub or in their learning setting. Playwise supports children aged 0-8 years. For more information and how to access support form Playwise visit: Playwise

Free childcare entitlements for children aged 2-4 years

Some families can receive up to 15 hours a week free childcare for their 2 year old for information on how to apply for a free childcare place for your 2 year old visit www.sutton.gov.uk/freechildcare 

All 3&4 year olds can receive up to 15 hours a week of free childcare. Working parents may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours a week for their 3&4 year old, this equates to up to 30 hours of free childcare a week

To find out more about the free childcare entitlements and other government support to reduce your childcare costs, including tax free childcare  visit https://www.sutton.gov.uk/freechildcare or call Sutton family information service 020 8770 5409.

Healthy lifestyles

Sutton health visiting service has a healthy lifestyle service in Sutton for families who would like support with becoming healthier and achieving healthy weight.

Please contact the health visiting service on:

Telephone: 020 8770 5409

Email: hcpadmin@sutton.gov.uk 

Or visit the following websites for more information:

Health visiting service videos

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