To help you support your child to grow up healthy, there is a free children’s check-up program in Germany called the ‘U-Check-Ups’. A paediatrician will regularly check how your child is doing, how they are developing, what progress they are making and whether they need any medical treatments. 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 time.
The first check-up takes place immediately after birth and the last one happens when your child is about six years old. The programme includes a total of ten check-up dates. They are called U1 to U9 for short. There are actually ten check-ups in total, because in addition to the U7 there is also a U7a. In addition to the U1 to U9 check-ups, paediatricians recommend that parents have two further U-Check-Ups: U10 when your child is seven or eight and U11 when they are nine or ten. However, neither of these appointments belong to the health insurance compulsory services and are therefore not automatically free of charge. However, many now cover the costs anyway. Therefore, it is best to check with your health insurance company beforehand.
The aim of the U-Check-Ups is to detect possible illnesses or problems in your child’s development early on in order best be able to treat them. In some babies, for example, the hip joint is not yet fully developed, although this isn’t visible to the naked eye. If this is not treated, there is a risk that they will develop pain when walking, running or standing as adults. Therefore, the doctor checks the hip joint during one of the check-ups. If the joint is not yet developed enough, the doctor will discuss treatments with you, for example that problems can be prevented simply by putting special diapers or pants on the baby for a few weeks.
At every check-up, you will also have the opportunity to ask questions if you are unclear about something or if you are worried about your baby. For example, you can talk to the doctor if your baby hasn’t been sleeping well for a long time or cries more than seems normal. You can also get information about who to contact if you need further support.
At the U-Check-Ups, you will get information about the vaccinations available to protect your child against dangerous infectious diseases. There are several types of vaccinations for children. The doctor will advise you about their use and importance. If you consent, you can have your baby vaccinated during certain U-Check-Ups. All recommended vaccinations are free of charge for parents. The costs are paid by through your health insurance.
There are specific time frames during which each of the ten of the U-check-ups should take place. So, it's important that you keep your appointments. There are conditions that can only be detected early enough for successful treatment by a certain age. To make this work, you should make appointments with your paediatrician's office early. The child’s check up booklet, also called the ‘yellow booklet’, will help you with this.
Immediately after giving birth, you will receive a yellow examination booklet from your midwife or from the clinic where you gave birth. The results of all check-ups from U1 to U9 are entered here. You will also find information about what will be examined at which appointment. This ‘U-book’, as it is called in German, is very important. You should keep it safe and bring it with you to every check-up. There is a sheet glued into the booklet with several labels on it. They are all printed with a bar code and assigned to your child. At each check-up, one of these labels will be stuck in your child's file in relation to the respective examination result. This avoids confusion during follow-up examinations. The yellow booklet also contains a participation card that you can take out. After each check-up, the paediatrician enters the date of the appointment on this form. The purpose of this card is that you can prove your participation in the U-Check-Ups to authorities, schools, day-care centres and youth welfare offices, should this ever be necessary. None of these establishments may require that you allow them to look though the yellow booklet themselves. The results of the check-ups are confidential. So you are free to decide who you allow to look at the booklet and who you don't.
In some federal states the U-Check-Ups are obligatory. In Lower Saxony, you will receive an invitation to the check-ups and a confirmation card after the birth of your child. This card is filled out by your paediatrician and sent to your local Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt). This way, the authorities can learn which children are still missing important check-ups.
If you lose the yellow booklet or attendance card, you can contact the doctor's office where you take your child for their U-Check-Ups. If you lose your booklet shortly after giving birth, the maternity clinic or midwife can issue you with a replacement booklet.