Babies & Children

When your baby or young child is unwell

For information about infectious illnesses in childhood see the NHS.UK pages

Signs of serious illness in a child:

  • Blue lips or tongue, pale or blotchy skin.
  • A rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it, the same as meningitis
  • Difficulty breathing (you may notice grunting noises or their stomach sucking under their ribcage), breathlessness or breathing very fast
  • A weak, high-pitched cry that’s not like their normal cry
  • Not responding like they normally do, or not interested in feeding or normal activities
  • Being sleepier than normal or difficult to wake

They may not have all these symptoms.

If you are concerned call 999 or go straight to A&E

Your child may not be quite so unwell but you should contact a doctor or call 111 if you are concerned or notice the following:

  • Your child seems very unwell or you are concerned there’s something seriously wrong
  • Has not had a pee all day (for adults and older children) or in the last 12 hours (for babies and young children)
  • Keeps vomiting and cannot keep any food or milk down (for babies and young children)
  • Has swelling, redness or pain around a cut or wound
  • Has a very high or low temperature, feels hot or cold to the touch, or is shivering

Is it serious? is a useful summary of what to look for

This is a potentially life-threatening condition that can develop quickly. It can be difficult to spot. Parents often have an instinct that something is more serious than just a normal feverish illness. Some of the signs above may indicate sepsis (though fortunately in most often they don’t). Act on your hunch and tell the doctors your concerns: you know your child better than they do and subtle signs can be important.

More information on sepsis

The Little Orange Book

Here is an excellent free guide to download ( 51 pages! ) to help recognise and manage your child’s inevitable minor illnesses and accidents and spotting the danger signs of more serious problems (produced by two GPs in Newcastle and Gateshead)

How to help your unwell child is a shorter but still very useful guide from our local Imperial College Healthcare Trust.

Child Health Surveillance

In addition to your baby’s checks before leaving hospital after birth there are some further routine checks on your child’s progress to monitor growth and development.
At 5-8 days a heel prick test is carried out by the midwife. A trial is also being carried out in London to screen for SCID (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency)

hearing screen is carried out in the first weeks (may be in hospital if delivered there).

Health visitor will carry out a new baby view at 10-14 days.

A check at around 8 weeks is carried out by the GP and will be done at the same time as your postnatal check for your convenience. You will be sent an appointment soon after your delivery.

The health visitors will arrange with you to carry out further developmental checks at 8 months (including hearing) and at 2 years.

Details on the health checks your baby will have are here

Health Visiting

Health Visitors are provided by Central London Community Healthcare (CLCH). They have a statutory responsibility for supporting children and parents and their children from the antenatal period until the child’s fifth year of age.
The Health Visiting Single Point of Access is Tel: 0208 102 4900

Childrens’ Centres

Brent Childrens’ Centres are places where families with children under 5y and access a range of services such as Health Visitors, breast feeding support, baby care advice, weighing, play groups, holiday groups, early education, employment advice, English language classes, links to other services and so on .
The nearest Childrens’ Centre is in Church Lane Tel: 0208 937 5590
There is a timetable for all the activities at Brent Childrens’ Centres here.

Brent Council services, facilities and resources for children and families is detailed here.

The eRedBook

The eRedBook

This replaces that floppy plastic covered record of your child’s weight, vaccinations and health checks with a more 21st century version, online, packed with links to health advice, reminders and the NHS health records. It is early days but it promises better coordination across the various services. Give it a go! You can set it up from the start of your pregnancy.

Start 4 Life

Start 4 Life

This is the ‘go-to’ information source for new parents and parents-to-be. Its overs the pregnancy, birth, child health to toddlers, how to feed your baby, vaccination schedules etc.

Child Immunisations

We carry out all childhood immunisations, except the BCG which protects against TB – these are done at Stag Lane Clinic at around 6 weeks and your Health Visitor or Midwife will inform you.

Our Baby Immunisation Clinic is on a Thursday afternoon by appointment only. Your child will be called up for immunisation from the central health authority computer. Sometimes there are delays so if it’s the right time (see below) but you’ve not yet had an appointment please contact the surgery. Also due to the complex schedule, and the short time scale, you may receive appointments for immunisations already given so check carefully. Please check-in at Reception and you will be added to the Nurse’s immunisation list. Please remember to bring your child’s Red Book so we can record the details for you (or, better, sign up for the eRedBook – see below).

If your child has a fever, is obviously very unwell or is just starting an illness, it is best to postpone the immunisations until they are better. Snuffles, coughs, and other minor illnesses or problems such as rashes and allergies do not require postponement.

For general information about the child vaccination programme and answers to your questions and concerns, including safety and busting all those myths, there is lots of information on NHS.UK here.

Anti-vaccine mis-information
There are large amounts of nonsense and frank lies spread on social media about childhood vaccinations from many irresponsible, ignorant and sometimes malicious sources. Much of this vaccine phobia stems from a press frenzy caused by the publication in 1998 of a scientific paper which purported to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. It has been categorically disproved – there is NO RISK of autism from the MMR vaccine. The story came from some fraudulent research published in 1998 by a publicity-seeking doctor who was subsequently struck off for dishonesty and various other misdemeanours and is barred from ever practicing as a doctor in the UK and US. All his theories were looked at across the world and no substance was found in any of it. How anyone can still believe this nonsense is amazing.

Unfortunately some people have been scared off giving their children important vaccinations as a result. Because of this, immunisation rates have fallen in some areas to dangerously low levels. The loss of this ‘herd immunity’, which prevents the these infectious diseases reappearing, will, if outbreaks arise, have an effect on many of us whose own immunity may have dropped off over the years. People forget that illnesses we saw eradicated by the use of vaccines such as measles used to cause widespread debility, often with complications, sometimes long term disability and death. Many measles outbreaks have occurred since the scare as a direct result of the drop in vaccination level and a lot of children have been harmed as a result. In Western Europe 1 child will die in every 5,000 cases. More than 140,000 people worldwide died from measles in 2018, most of them children under 5yrs, death which would probably have been prevented by use of the safe vaccine. Before the measles vaccine deaths were around 8 – 10 times this number. Parents must have very good reasons for denying children this vital protection but often we find the vaccine deniers have a mix of superstition and fear based on heresay and anecdote and have no valid evidence to support their decision. Their children, who have no choice, are denied their protection and are at risk.

The same arguments apply to other vaccines such as meningitis, polio, mumps, haemophilus, pneumomoccal and so on.

Vaccine safety
Like everything else in life, vaccines are not completely risk-free. However in the case of all the vaccines used in the current UK routine schedule, the overwhelming evidence is that vaccinating is much, much safer than not vaccinating. The Vaccine Knowledge Project from Oxford University is a mine of information – all the questions you might have can be answered here and if you are worried about vaccine safety and efficacy you should look at the evidence for yourself.
The NHS.UK website also has good summaries of the facts of the safety and importance of vaccination.

Child Vaccination Schedule
Age of your childVaccine type (click on hyperlinks to see full details)
8 Weeks6-in-1
12 Weeks6-in-1 (2nd dose)
Pneumococcal (PCV)
16 Weeks6-in-1 (3rd dose)
MenB (2nd dose)
1 YearHib/MenC
Pneumococcal (PCV) (2nd dose)
MenB (3rd dose)
2 – 10 YearsFlu (every year)
3 Year 4 MonthsMMR (2nd dose)
4-in-1 Pre-school Booster
12 – 13 YearsHPV
14 YearsMenACWY
3-in-1 teenage booster

Exercise for young children

How much exercise does your child need?
Look at this NHS.UK site for useful information to improve your child’s fitness, reduce obesity and set up good habits for life.