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Children's health

Children learn good habits in their earliest years, so it is important to encourage healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Safer Sleep

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the term for the sudden unexpected death of a baby or toddlers where no cause is found. The Lullaby Trust’s Safer Sleep campaign works to raise awareness, educating parents and carers and helping them reduce the risk of SIDS.

You can reduce the risk of SIDS by following some simple hints and tips:

  • Place your baby on their back to sleep, in a cot in the same room as you, for the first six months.
  • Don't smoke during pregnancy or breastfeeding, and don't let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.
  • Don't share a bed with your baby if you smoke, have drunk alcohol, have taken drugs, are extremely tired, or if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth weight.
  • Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair.
  • Don't let your baby get too hot or cold.
  • Keep your baby's head uncovered. Their blanket should be tucked in no higher than their shoulders.
  • Place your baby in the ‘feet to foot’ position, with their feet at the end of the cot or moses basket.

More information is available on the Health for Under 5s website. You can also refer to the Strategy to Support Healthy Pregnancy, Birth and Babies in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland 2019-2024, available to view and download at the bottom of this page. The strategy has been developed by a range of partner organisations who have come together to form the Healthy Babies Strategy Group (HBSG), recognising the importance of this issue in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR).

Healthy Start card

From April 2022, the scheme is changing – the Healthy Start paper vouchers will be replaced with a pre-paid card. Instead of receiving paper vouchers in the post every month, individuals will have a pre-paid card which is topped up once a month with their Healthy Start item allowance. It will be available to use in any shops, markets and food outlets accepting Mastercard. Anyone applying from now will receive and be able to start using the pre-paid card.

Some traders at Leicester and Beaumont Markets accept Healthy Start cards.

The card aims to help those on certain benefits give their child the best start in life by enabling them to get  free fruit, vegetables and milk. 

Get more details on the Healthy Start card

Find out if you qualify and how to apply

Healthy Together

Healthy Together, provided by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, delivers the Healthy Child Programme to local families in the city.

It initially focuses on the first five years of a child’s life, providing a programme of screening, immunisation, and health and development reviews to all families, as well as advice on all aspects of health, wellbeing and parenting.

Following the Healthy Child Programme framework, Healthy Together continues to provide universal and progressive services for all children aged 5 to 19 years to promote optimal health and wellbeing.

Lots of health information and advice is provided on Healthy Together’s three public health websites:

Public health nurses (health visitors)

If you're pregnant and you live in Leicester, you'll be assigned a named public health nurse (health visitor) before your child is born, and offered a contact with them.

Healthy Together goes on to offer important health and developmental assessments, to all children at key developmental milestones throughout the early years. These assessments, which could take place in your home or at local clinic, are as follows:

  • Pre-birth visit (from 27 weeks pregnant)
  • New birth visit (10-14 days old)
  • Developmental check (6-8 weeks old)
  • 10-12 month assessment
  • 2 year 3 month assessment.

In addition to these main contacts, you can get in touch with your public health nurse (health visitor) at any time if you need further support and advice. The service offers a confidential text messaging service, Chat Health, for parents. Text 07520 615381 and you will be sent an automated message straightaway, confirming that your message has been received, and will receive a text response within 24 hours. This service operates Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays), 9am – 5pm. 

Once your child is five, you can seek support from your public health (school) nurse (school nurse). Your child’s school will be able to put you in touch with the school nurse, or you can text as above to arrange an appointment. Public health (school) nurses can provide support for parents and carers on a wide range of topics, including healthy eating, child development, emotional health, behaviour difficulties and parenting concerns.

Public health nurses (school nurses)

Public health (school) nurses work with children aged 5-19 on a range of issues including emotional health and wellbeing, stress, anxiety, bullying and sexual health. They run weekly clinics in all secondary schools and can be contacted through the confidential text service, Chat Health, on 07520 615386.

National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)

All children in reception and year six are weighed and measured as part of the government’s child measurement programme, and the results are sent directly to parents. The measurements take place in school, and are carried out by the public health nursing team. Find more information and FAQs on the Health for kids website.

Protect your child from button batteries

Button batteries can be found in many toys, games and small electrical items (like musical greetings cards) and could be mistaken for small silver coloured sweets.

If they are swallowed or eaten the battery can generate an electrical charge which produces sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), this can then lead to severe internal injury and possibly be fatal.

It is important to make sure that all items that may contain these batteries have the battery compartment securely closed (preferably with a lockable compartment – be very careful with electronic cards as they do not have lockable compartments) and all loose batteries be kept out of children’s way. 

If you suspect that anyone has swallowed a battery then seek medical advice immediately as injury can happen very soon after ingestion.

For more information, please download our poster and leaflet at the bottom of this page.

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