Health Matters for Toddlers
Understand the schedule of vaccinations and the child benefits that may be available to you...
Pregnancy in the Netherlands involves the midwife (verloskundige) in the care of mother and baby. After birth the family doctor (huisarts), also known as a General Practitioner or GP becomes the first point of contact for an ill child. Family doctors are available Monday to Friday 08:00-17:00. In emergencies, take a child to the nearest hospital. Accident and Emergency departments are open 24-hours a day.
Immediately after birth, whether a child is born at home or in hospital, an aftercare programme called kraamzorg kicks in. This has to be booked during pregnancy as it is extremely popular. It allows that for a period of five to seven days a postnatal care nurse (kraamvezorgster) comes to the home to help with household tasks and caring for the baby.
Two weeks after the birth a district nurse from the Child Health Clinic (Consultatiebureau) visits the new mother and baby at home. The nurse gives advice on care and feeding and makes an appointment for the first visit to the clinic. The nurse also makes sure the mother has a record book to record her baby’s development, vaccinations and medical events.
From then on until the child reaches four years of age, the Child Health Clinic is available free of charge to help families. Most children and parents make regular visits in the first year and less frequent visits after that to allow for checks to be made on height, weight, development and for vaccinations.
The clinic also places great emphasis on the child/parent relationship and will make referrals to other support organisations if it believes there are serious problems.
Vaccination periods are divided into four phases:
- Phase one: birth to 14 months
- Phase two: four years of age
- Phase three: nine years of age
- Phase four: twelve years of age
The phase one vaccines are given at approximately three months, four months, five months, eleven months, and fourteen. Reminders are sent by post.
- The Dutch government website has more information on the vaccine schedule in the Netherlands
When children reach five years of age parents are notified via mail that a doctor will attend the child's school to perform tests on vision, hearing, and general health. The parents are able to request that the doctor address specific concerns they may have. This system of visiting doctors and nurses continues through the child's school years until 19 years of age. If any health or developmental problems are noted, the child is referred to specialists for treatment. This includes speech therapy and similar practices. All treatment is free.
Vaccination records should be kept and provided at each health check-up.
The Juvenile Health Care Centre of the Public Health Department (GGD) provides guidance to parents and guardians in the Netherlands about the physical, emotional and psychological development of their children aged 4 to 19 years of age.
Child benefit (Kinderbijslag) is paid to anyone living or working in the Netherlands with children under the age of 18. Child benefit is paid quarterly at the end of each quarter.
Children born in the Netherlands must be registered with the municipal authorities at birth; an application form for child benefit will be issued automatically.
Parents who arrive in the Netherlands with children must apply for child benefit. Approach the local branch of the Dutch Social Insurance Information Centre (Sociale Verzekeringsbank – SVB).
- For more information see the SVB website (in English)