Health services for pre-school children

Introduction

The Health Service Executive (HSE) provides health services for pre-school children. Every child up to the age of 5 years old will have free health and development checks. This is to make sure they are healthy and developing normally.

The visits and health checks are an opportunity for you to talk about how you are getting on. You can ask any questions or talk about any concerns you have about yourself or your baby.

Checks might take place at home, at a GP surgery or at your local health centre.

Health services

Health services for pre-school children are provided by public health nurses and other healthcare professionals that are employed by the HSE.

Health checks

Public health nurses are notified of all births in their area - either by the hospital where the baby was born or by the midwife who was present for a home birth.

After the birth, your public health nurse will visit you and your child at home free of charge, usually within 72 hours of returning home from hospital. They will carry out an examination of your newborn baby and a check-up for you.

The public health nurse will arrange with you to check your baby's development at different stages. For example, at 9 months, they will check all aspects of the child's development, including hearing, eyesight, speech development and physical development.

Problems that are found at developmental checks may be treated free of charge at out-patient hospital departments and any treatment needed after is free as a public patient.

Your child will also get vaccines to keep them safe from disease. These are also free.

How to apply

You do not need to apply for your child’s health checks. You will be contacted by your public health nurse before each check to arrange a date and time. If you have not heard from the public health nurse, call your local health centre to make an appointment.

Talk to your GP or public health nurse if you are concerned about your child’s development. They may carry out further screening or refer your child to a specialist.

Further information

For information on health services and supports for pre-school children, visit mychild.ie.
Page edited: 18 June 2021