Child Health and Development

Child development

Children develop at different rates. Doncaster Health Visiting team supports and empowers you to help your child achieve their potential.

As part of our core health visiting offer  you will be offered a number of reviews which gives you the opportunity to talk about your child’s general development. We use the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) designed to give you a better understanding your child’s development and progress with communication, movement, problem solving, and personal-social skills such as (washing hands, using utensils playing games, understanding others feelings). The ASQ results will flag up any early concerns about your child’s development so that assistance can be put in place to support your child to reach their potential.

Growing Friends Community Groups support and encourage children’s physical, emotional and social development through play, structured activities, creative fun and singing. Providing support where needed to parents makes a big difference to how a child grows into a healthy, happy and fulfilled adult. Health practitioners in these groups plan themed activities which can easily be done at home linked to health messages. Staff provide positive interactions, sensitivity and encourage parents to treat their child as an individual with their own thoughts, feelings and motivations.

Healthy sleep routines for children

Keeping your child to a regular bedtime routine although difficult, can help the quality of their sleep. It’s important to have a routine that works for you and your child, and to KEEP to it. A bedtime ritual teaches the brain to become familiar with sleep times and wake times – it gets them used to a set routine. Find out how much sleep kids need.

Your child’s bedroom

It’s important to keep the bedroom just for sleeping. The bedroom itself needs to be dark, quiet and tidy. It should smell fresh and be kept at a temperature of 18 – 24C. It should be a calm and relaxed place.

Avoid computer/TV screens in the bedroom

The light from tablet computers, mobiles/smartphones, TVs and other electronic gadgets, can also affect children’s sleep. Try to keep your child’s bedroom a screen-free zone and get them to charge their phones and other devices downstairs. That way they won’t be tempted to respond to friends getting in touch late in the evening.

Getting help with sleep problems

If your child is still having problems getting to sleep or sleeping through the night, you can speak to your GP, health visitor or one of our First Friends or Growing Friends groups and speak to a nursery nurse.

Keep a sleep diary

You may be asked to keep a sleep diary for your child as part of diagnosing any sleep problems. The sleep diary might reveal some underlying conditions that explain sleep problems, such as stress or medication. A sleep diary might reveal lifestyle habits or experiences in your child’s day-to-day activities that contribute to sleep problems.

It could include answers to the following questions:

  • What were your child’s sleeping times?
  • How long did it take them to get to sleep?
  • How many times did they wake up during the night?
  • How long did each awakening last?
  • How long did they sleep in total?
  • Did they do any exercise shortly before going to bed?
  • Did they take any naps during the day or evening?
  • Has anything made them anxious or upset?

Sometimes, sleep problems can be a sign of a mental health problem.

Your child’s sleep needs change when they become a teenager, read about why teenagers are always tired.

Weaning off bottles and dummies

Many children become closely attached to bottles or their dummies. Both may mean a lot to a child as they often use them for comfort and security. Weaning off a bottle or dummy can have an impact on sleep routines. Your health visitor or nursery nurse can provide support and advice.

Dealing with child behaviour problems

There are lots reasons for difficult behaviour in toddlers and young children.

Often it’s just because they’re tired, hungry, overexcited, frustrated or bored. You have to do what is right for your child, your family and for you. If you don’t believe in something or feel its not right, it probably won’t work. Children notice when you don’t mean what you’re saying.

Toilet training

Toilet training is one of those child developmental stages that can be frustrating and difficult. Making the transition from nappy to toilet can certainly be a challenge, particularly if you feel it is a battle but try to remember that it is a skill your child will learn and to have patience.

Additional Resources