Milestones matter - tracking childhood development

Early childhood provides a vital window of opportunity for intervention to shape the long-term health and well-being of children. Improving developmental surveillance of children help better prepare them to learn and have the best start to school.

A child’s Personal Health Record (Blue Book) list the scheduled health checks. These should be attended at 1-4 weeks, 6-8 weeks, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years and 4 years. These developmental checks assess social/emotional, language and communication, cognitive, fine and gross motor millstones.

It is recognised that there is a high drop off rate in well child health visits after six months. We know children may visit their GP often during this period, therefore GPs are well positioned to maintain child health and developmental surveillance in the preschool years to ensure early detection of developmental concerns.

How can my practice improve our childhood developmental screening?

GP booking consultation

  • It is helpful if parent/carer is reminded by reception staff to bring their child’s Blue Book to the appointment and complete the age appropriate Learn the signs. Act early screening questions prior to visit.
  • Add a Blue Book developmental screen reminder to flag children booked for routine immunisation 6 months - 4 years appointments.

Waiting Room

Reception staff to remind parent /carer to complete age appropriate “Learn the signs. Act early” screening questions in Blue Book  PRIOR to consultation

GP consultation

GP and/or practice nurse to review and discuss “Learn the signs. Act early” screening questions

  • No concerns identified – advise schedule of future reviews as per Blue Book
  • Concerns identified – refer to Child and Family Nursing for further review and assessment

Child and Family Health Services – a valuable partnership for general practice

The Child and Family Health Nurses provide an important role in collaboration with general practice to improve child developmental surveillance. Did you know the benefits of the service include:  

  • provide FREE formal health and developmental screening in children from 0-4 years.
  • discuss individual recommendations and referral pathways to specialised and allied health services where appropriate.
  • access to information about local community services including parenting support, breastfeeding classes and parenting resources.

For further information regarding Child and Family Services within CESPHN area:

South Eastern Sydney LHD Child and Family Health Services

Intake  
Ph. 9548 4300, for children in the Bayside (Rockdale/South airport), Georges-River and Sutherland Shire LGAs OR
Ph. 9382 0933 for Bayside (Botany/north of the airport), Waverly, Woollahra, Randwick and part of City of Sydney (east of Darling Harbour).

Sydney LHD Child and Family Health Services

Intake and child information health link
Ph. 9562 5400

Additional Resources

NSW Health Milestones Matter: consumer brochure to help parents keep track of their child’s developmental milestones and has information on where to seek help early if parents have concerns about how their child is growing, developing or behaviour. This brochure is available in a number of languages.