Child and family health nurses in the community
A child and family health nurse may also be called ‘community health nurse’, ‘maternal and child health nurse’ or ‘child health nurse’. Their services are available to all families for free. You can access these services through hospitals, community and healthcare centres, or government agencies.
Once your baby is born your hospital or birth-team can notify your local child and family health nurse on your behalf, depending on where you live. The nurse will then get in contact with you. You can still make contact ahead of time, and if you have recently moved or plan to move, you should notify the appropriate local service.
What kind of services do child and family health nurses provide?
Child and family health nurses provide a range of advice and support for topics which include:
- Feeding your baby, including breastfeeding techniques
- Settling your baby and helping them sleep
- Safety around the home
- Your child’s immunisation schedule
- Physical, social, mental and emotional development
- Key milestones to monitor
- How you are coping with parenting
- Washing and caring for your baby
- Referral to specialist healthcare, particularly counselling services
- Direction to parent and support groups.
Child and family health nurses help to identify when things may not be tracking as expected and can help if issues in your child’s health or development arise suddenly. If such issues arise, you can also talk directly to your GP.
How does a child and family health nurse engage with me?
Your first appointment with a child and family health nurse will often be in your home soon after childbirth. These visits may continue at different times throughout your child’s first five years, although sometimes you may be asked to attend a centralised healthcare clinic.
Infant Health Records
Each state or territory has their own version of an Infant Health Record book. This book provides you with a range of information and contacts for support services. It also helps you schedule appointments and serves as a record of measurements and visits.
For more information
Speak to your GP or contact your shire, council or local hospital for more information about child and family health nurses in your area.