Last week, M had her 2 to 2.5 year check with the Health Visitor. Before we went, I was unsure as to what to expect. Because of this, I thought I’d share our experience from last week in the hope that it might help others wondering what happens at the two to two-and-a-half year developmental review.
Before You Go
A couple of weeks before the 2 to 2.5 year check took place, we received a letter detailing the time and location of the check. We also received a booklet to complete, which contained a series of tasks that we needed to do with M. These included things like, drawing horizontal and vertical lines, and circles for her to copy. Can she jump, taking off and landing with two feet? Can she thread beads onto a string independently? Can she say sentences comprising of three or four words? Give examples.
Fortunately, M was able to do almost everything in the booklet, aside from jumping with both feet (although she decided to do this approximately three hours after our meeting with the Health Visitor, spontaneously, just after she’d woken from her nap!).
M has a really wide vocabulary. She uses words like ‘because’ and ‘otherwise’ in sentences. However, her pronunciation leaves quite a lot to be desired and it can be difficult to understand much of what she’s saying, unless you know the context. This is something that I wrote down in the booklet to chat the the Health Visitor about.
When You Get There
The check itself was held in a community room around ten minutes’ drive from where we live. I was surprised to see that there were two other children, with their parents, simultaneously having their checks at the same time as M. It didn’t bother me as it was a large room and we were all involved in our own conversations, rather than paying any attention to what anyone else was saying.
There were various toys spread around the room on the floor, which kept M amused while the Health Visitor and I talked through our answers in the booklet. M loved playing with all of the toys and demonstrated a few of the skills that the booklet asked about, while she was playing.
I had the opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns. We talked about my concerns around M’s speech and the Health Visitor advised to keep an eye on it, work on some phonics with M (I had explained that Matthew and I are teachers) and see if it improves by Christmas. If it’s not any better by the start of next year, then we can self-refer to SaLT (Speech and Language Therapy). The Health Visitor wrote down the number I’d need to contact SaLT in M’s red book. Apparently, SaLT don’t begin to consider working with children until they are at least two and a half, which is why we were told to wait until after Christmas. I’m not overly worried about M’s speech; she is only two and a bit, but it’s something that I want to keep an eye on and nip in the bud early, before it becomes a problem.
Once we’d been all through the form, the Health Visitor ran through general things that they talk to all parents about at this stage. We talked about developing skills for road safety, behaviour management strategies and the importance of keeping button batteries away from children. (Did you know that if a child swallows a button battery, their stomach lining can be completely destroyed within one hour? Terrifying! So the advice there is to seek urgent medical attention if you have even the slightest suspicion that your child may have swallowed one – time is of the essence and it’s better to be safe than sorry.)
Finally, the Health Visitor weighed and measured M. M came out on the 9th percentile for height, and near the 25th for weight. Both of these are lines on the chart that she’s been tracking since birth. However, because M is on a higher percentile for weight than height, the Health Visitor sheepishly suggested that she might be considered a bit overweight. I told her very firmly that that’s ridiculous – there is barely any fat on M. The Health Visitor did backtrack rather quickly and said that it’s very rare that she ever comes across a child who is tracking the same percentile for both weight and height. In my opinion, while these comparisons may seem logical, they are far too simplistic as they fail to take into account build and body types.
However, we did have an interesting discussion about portion sizes and the Health Visitor said that if you think about a main meal, each element (i.e. meat, potatoes, vegetables) should be around the size of the child’s fist. You should then expect the child to eat around half of what is on their plate. Gone are the days of expecting a child to clear their plate before they can get down from the table; the idea is that the child can self-regulate their food intake and decide for themselves when they are full. Sounds great in theory, until you hit real life and your toddler eats all of their potato wedges but refuses to go within three feet of a green bean. Fortunately, M is a pretty good eater anyway. Although, like any toddler, she clears her plate at some mealtimes and refuses to eat more than a few mouthfuls at others. That’s toddler life I guess!
What Happens Next?
Well, not much. The next contact is at around 3 and a half years old, when M will have her pre-school immunisations, which are boosters of the ones she’s had before. Everything else is down to us, as parents, to be knowledgeable about child development and raise concerns ourselves if we think that something isn’t right.
Overall, I’m happy with the way that M is progressing. She’s showing us that she can do and say new things every day. The next step for her now will be preschool, which she’ll hopefully start in the early part of next year. Exciting times!