Depending on where you live, a child and family health nurse may also be called a community health nurse, a maternal and child health nurse or a child health nurse.
Child and family health nurses in the community
Child and family health nurse services are provided free to all families. These services are accessed through hospitals, community and healthcare centres, or government agencies.
Your doctor, obstetrician, midwife or your hospital will notify your local child and family health nurse about your childbirth on your behalf, and the nurse will then contact 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 that include:
- feeding your baby, including breastfeeding techniques
- settling your baby and helping them sleep
- safety around the home
- your baby’s/child’s immunisation schedule
- physical, social, mental and emotional development
- key milestones to monitor
- how you are coping with parenting
- washing and caring for you baby
- referral to specialist healthcare, particularly counselling services
- direction to parent and support groups.
Child and family health nurses help to identify early when things may not be tracking well or when certain issues in your child’s health and development suddenly arise.
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.