Baby Health and Care
Early Detection Check-Ups for Children
To help you support your child growing up healthy, there is a free children’s check-up programme in Germany called the ‘U-Check-Ups’. A paediatrician regularly checks how your child is doing, how they are developing, what progress they are making, and whether that need medical treatment. It's important to find a paediatrician's office before your baby is born. That way the important U-Check-Ups can be done without delay and at the appropriate times.
U1 Check-Up: Right After Birth
Your baby's first check-up will take place immediately after birth. First and foremost, your doctor or midwife will check that your baby has survived everything well. To do this, they examine the baby’s vital functions, such as breathing and cardiovascular activity, at short intervals. They also watch your baby carefully so that they can intervene right away if any problems arise. Some quick and painless tests are done for this purpose. Your doctor or midwife will listen to your baby's heart and lungs, check their breathing, test their muscle tone and reflexes, and assess the colour and blood flow to their skin. They also measure the baby's length, weight and girth.
U2 Check-Up: 3-10 Days After Birth
The U2 is the next check-up, and happens soon after birth to make sure that your baby is doing well. The right time for this is three to ten days after birth. If you gave birth in the hospital, the U2 usually simply takes place there. If you had an outpatient birth, a home birth, or a birth in a birth center, you must make your own appointment for the U2 check-up with paediatrician. Because doctors' offices are often full, it's best to call them soon after the birth to make an appointment. At the U2 check-up, your baby will be thoroughly examined from head to toe once again. The aim is to recognise and treat any possible birth defects or congenital diseases as early as possible. Your doctor will also advise you on how best to feed your baby.
U3 Check-Up: 4th or 5th Week After Birth
The third check-up is called U3 for short. It is usually the first checkup in a doctor's office, unless you delivered your baby at home or in a birth center. It is best to make an appointment with your paediatrician's office for the U3 as soon as possible after giving birth. The U3 is about more than just checking the physical health of your baby. You will also get detailed advice on which vaccinations are important for your baby to have. In addition, the U3 is the perfect opportunity for you to ask the paediatrician all the questions you have. Don't hold back- ask them about anything you've noticed in the past few weeks with your baby that you'd like a professional opinion on. You can also use the U3 to get information about support services in your area. Advice centres such as the Early Help Network (Netzwerk Freshen Hilfen) know what services are available for young families. The staff will help you find the right kids of assistance.
U4 Check-Up: 3 - 4 Months
At the U4 check-up, which takes place when your baby is three of four months old, your doctor will primarily check whether their physical and mental development is on track with their age. Of course, children grow and mature at different rates. This is perfectly normal. But because the U4, like every U-check-up, follows a prescribed pattern and the results are documented regularly, the doctor can see relatively well whether there are signs of developmental delay or illness.
U5 Check-Up: 6 - 7 Months
The U5 check-up is due to take place when your baby is between six and seven months old. At this point your child is already half a year old and has changed quite a bit. The tiny infant who could barely move has grown into an active, curious little creature. From day to day your child will become more independent. That's why the U5 check-up is all about movement. Among other things, your paediatrician will want to see how mobile your child is so that they are well prepared for the next developmental steps, such as crawling and then walking.
U6 Check-Up: 10 - 12 Months
By the time the U6 check-up comes around, your child is almost no longer a baby. This is because your child develops into a toddle between the ages of 10 and 12 months. However differences in development can often be large at this age. Some children can already walk around the home on their own two legs. Others are just starting to pull themselves up to stand on their own or are still crawling on the floor.
U7 Check-Up: 21 - 24 Months
When you bring your child to the U7 examination at 21-24 months old , the main focus is on what skills they have developed since the last examination almost a year ago. This check-up is about topics like talking, walking, running and playing. Your paediatrician won’t just check that all of your almost two-year-old’s organs are okay. This check-up is also about mental and emotional development, i.e. whether your child understands simple words and sentences and how they behave in a group of other children, in the family and when playing.
U7a Check-Up: 34 - 36 Months
The U7a check-up takes place shortly before your child’s third birthday when they are 34 - 36 months old. It was introduced a few years ago because it became apparent that there was too much time between the U7 and U8. The U7a focuses on topics like healthy teeth, your child's linguistic development , how well they can already move and dealing with media.
U8 Check-Up: 46 - 48 Months
At the U8 check-up takes place when your child is almost four years old, between 46 and 48 months after they were born. At this point, your child can probably already answer most of the paediatrician's questions and do tasks on their own. Of course, you’ll stick around for support and to make your child feel secure.
U9 Check-Up: 60 - 64 Months
The U9 check-up takes place when your child is between 60 and 64 months old and it is the most comprehensive of all the early detection check-ups. Your child isn’t a toddler anymore at this point. Soon they should be in primary school. That's why your paediatrician will pay particular attention at U9 to how well your child can communicate and how they behave towards other children, adults and strangers.
Vaccinations protect your child from contagious diseases caused by viruses or bacteria. This protection is important because infants and young children are particularly at risk of contracting certain infections. Experts recommend that all babies be vaccinated against various diseases on a set schedule. This is called the vaccination schedule. It states which vaccinations should be given when. In total, vaccinations against twelve infectious diseases are provided for children between the ages of six weeks and 23 months. Some of these vaccinations can be done at the same time in one appointment. If you have statutory health insurance, they are free of charge. It is best to talk to your doctor about vaccinations and suitable vaccination dates during your child's first check-ups.
What is vaccinated against?
The diseases against which infants, children and adolescents should be vaccinated are determined by a group of experts. It is called the Standing Commission on Vaccination or STIKO for short. They regularly check which vaccinations are necessary and which are not. Below you will find brief descriptions of the diseases your child will be protected against with the vaccinations. Vaccinations are given in the order in which the diseases are listed here. Your paediatrician and the vaccination schedule will tell you which vaccinations are due and when.
Baby Grooming and Caregiving
Whether it's the navel, skin or bottom, your baby's body needs special care. The navel is still a wound after birth. Your baby’s skin is very thin and is particularly stressed on their bottom due to frequent wetting. In general, however, the following still applies to body care: less is more. For daily cleaning, it is enough to wash your baby either in the morning or in the evening with a clean, soft cloth dipped in lukewarm water. While there are many products specifically for baby care, few of them are really necessary. If you don't buy them, it's not only easy on your baby's skin, it's easy on your wallet. In any case, do not use products with mineral oils, preservatives, added colours or fragrances, or so-called ‘softeners’. If you are under the care of a midwife, she can give you lots of helpful tips on baby care.
Dental Care For Babies
Your baby's first teeth are especially sensitive. Although these ‘baby teeth’ or ‘milk teeth’ will all fall out between the ages of five and twelve and the permanent teeth will follow, baby teeth also need good care early on. As soon as your child gets their first teeth, you should teach them how to brush them through play. The healthier baby teeth are, the better it is for the permanent teeth. You'll get tips on how to best care for them at your child's checkups. A first visit to a dentist is necessary at the age of two or three years at the earliest.
Diaper Content During a Baby’s First Year
A baby's digestion is constantly changing during the first year of life. Therefore, what ends up in your baby’s diaper or nappy also changes. A baby's first bowel movement is black and viscous. It is referred to as meconium. Later, a baby’s stool will be soft or even liquid and its colour may be pale yellow to ochre. As soon as babies eat baby food, their stool changes again. It becomes firmer and smellier, and the colour often matches that of the food the baby has eaten. During the baby’s first check-ups, the colour of their stool is assessed using what’s known as a ‘stool colour chart’ in Germany. You can ask your midwife or paediatrician for a chart like this.
Babies Throw Up
It's not uncommon for babies to throw up frequently. It can often happen that the milk ends up on a burp cloth when the baby has drunk hastily. Sometimes the contents of the baby’s stomach also moves up when the baby gets excited. As long as your baby continues to gain weight and seems lively, everything is probably fine. Then you just have to remember to pack spare clothes for you and the baby in your diaper bag. A few extra burp cloths won't hurt either.
Jaundice in Babies
More than half of all newborns have jaundice. It is harmless in most cases. Jaundice is an indication that the baby's liver still has some maturing to do. Most noticeably, your baby’s skin and eyeballs have a yellowish colour. Also, their urine often has a brownish colour and their stool is usually very light or light yellow. Newborn jaundice begins two to three days after birth and usually peaks on the fifth day. Then the yellowish colour of the skin disappears almost all over the body and is gone after about 10 to 14 days. In the area of the head, however, the skin may be discoloured longer.