Better Care

Westminster launch for Baby Check app

A Birmingham health visitor's idea for an easy-to-use baby health check app had a high profile, public launch at Westminster attended by MPs and guest of honour TV's Dr Ellie Cannon.

Baby Check is a free app that helps parents test their baby for different signs of illness and determine how unwell they are.

Featuring 19 simple symptom checks, the app calculates a final score that indicates the severity of the baby’s illness and advises parents whether they need to see a doctor.

The development of the app represents a highly successful partnership between BCHC and national charity the Lullaby Trust, which provides specialist support for bereaved families, promotes expert advice on safer baby sleep and raises awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Baby Check launch group
(left to right) Lullaby Trust CEO Francine Bates; Dr Ellie Cannon; Dr Tim Cole; Carroll Johnson-Chapman; Dr Colin Morley; Hamid Zolfagharinia, BCHC innovation team.
Dr Ellie Cannon at the launch of the Baby Check app.

Recommended by several NHS Trusts, the app has been widely used and promoted across the new citywide early years health and wellbeing partnership incorporating health visiting and children's centre support services - Birmingham Forward Steps.

Introduced in 2015, Baby Check has been redeveloped to make it even easier for parents to use.

It is now 'CE marked' to show it complies with the essential requirements of relevant European health, safety and environmental protection legislation.

Baby Check was first developed as a result of a research project led by child health experts who analysed the signs and symptoms of illness in over 1,000 babies under 6 months of age. The 19 signs and symptoms now used in Baby Check were found to give the most accurate assessment.

Originally distributed to parents by The Lullaby Trust in booklet form, the idea to develop this resource into a user-friendly app came from health visiting team leader Carroll Johnson-Chapman. 

Carroll’s idea won the backing of The Lullaby Trust and BCHC, which provided research and development support to develop Baby Check into an app available to download from Google Play and the App Store.

Speaking at the launch, Carroll said: "This is a very proud day for me because the app all started because I wanted to spread the word about Baby Check just at the time when the use of smartphones and apps was exploding.

"At that time, I'd done some training around supporting bereaved parents following the birth of second and subsequent babies. So, although I have absolutely no technical knowledge whatsoever, it seemed like a perfect opportunity.

"This has been, in my opinion, a shining example of what a successful partnership should mean."

Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust said: “We have distributed the Baby Check booklet to parents for many years and have seen the reassurance it can provide to those whose baby is showing signs of illness.

“As a charity, we have limited resources to develop other channels for reaching parents and we are grateful to Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust and The Garfield Weston Foundation for funding the development of the Baby Check app.

“This free app is a quick way of helping parents make an informed decision about whether their baby needs medical attention.”

Dr Ellie Cannon, who is a practising GP, writes for the Mail on Sunday and regularly comments on health matters on TV and radio, said: “As both a parent and a GP, I understand the anxiety parents experience when their baby is unwell.

"Baby Check’s easy-to-follow checklist allows parents to identify their baby’s symptoms and confidently decide what level of care is necessary. Baby check is a fantastic resource for any parent who is unsure about their baby’s health.” 

The app can be downloaded for free from Google Play and the App Store.

Click here to download Baby Check from the App Store. 

Click here to download Baby Check from Google Play. 

More Information

Baby Check was developed from a four-year project which analysed the signs and symptoms of illness in over 1,000 babies under six months of age. There were 300 well babies at home and 700 babies in hospital with a variety of illnesses.

All signs and symptoms were analysed to find the combination which could be used to assess the severity of a baby’s illness with the most accuracy. The 19 signs and symptoms now used in Baby Check were found to give the most accurate assessment.

The accuracy and acceptability of Baby Check has been tested in several field trials.

Led by Dr Colin Morley, Dr Tim Cole and Alison Thornton in Cambridge and Dr Peter Hewson in Australia͖, the research was undertaken in the Department of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge; MRC Dunn Nutrition Laboratory, Cambridge; Dept. of General Paediatrics, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne Australia.