Wondering who you turn to for questions about your baby's health? What about when he/she is sick? What vaccinations are proposed and how do we go about having our child vaccinated?
- Free well baby visits at the ONE/Kind en Gezin
- Family doctor vs pediatrician?
- Subsidised childcare if your baby is too sick to go to daycare
- First aid classes
- Neonatal care, emergency departments and children's hospitals
If you give birth in a Belgian hospital, a representative from one of these state agencies usually visits to explain the services on offer and take your contact details - a social worker from your local ONE/Kind en Gezin may then be in touch soon after you leave hospital.
'Well-baby' checks are offered free of charge at local ONE/Kind en Gezin consultation points (in urban areas there are many centres, while in less accessible areas, mobile clinics are sometimes used). At these visits, your baby can be weighed and measured, and you have an appointment with a pediatrician and social worker who can answer any questions you may have about your baby's health and development. If you follow the vaccination programme recommended in Belgium, then vaccinations can also be carried out for free at these appointments.
There is no obligation to take advantage of the ONE/Kind en Gezin services. If you prefer, you can centralise all your baby's care with a pediatrician - or in some cases with your family doctor.
Well-baby checks in daycare
Many daycares also arrange to have a team from the ONE/Kind en Gezin visit them to carry out well-baby checks, and vaccinations if necessary. Again, you are not obliged to take advantage of this.
In Belgium is it not uncommon to take children to a pediatrician for check-ups, when they are ill or for vaccinations, and you do not need a referral to do so. However, unless your baby is very ill, then your family doctor may be a handier and cheaper option.
A visit to a pediatrician can cost around €50 (compared to around €35 for a family doctor), around 75% of which will be reimbursed by your 'mutuelle' / 'ziekenfonds'.
A pediatrician will probably be harder to reach outside of regular working hours, and will usually not carry out home visits.
Note: While some family doctors are happy to see babies and young children, others may prefer not to see babies under the age of 3 or 6 months, or even one year. Ask your own doctor how he/she operates.
Remember that you can have free well-baby visits and vaccinations with the ONE/Kind en Gezin.
How do I find a pediatrician?
If you are a member of the Brussels Childbirth Trust (BCT) you will have access to a list of pediatricians that has been compiled by recommendations from BCT members. Note: this does not mean that the BCT itself recommends particular doctors.
You might also find a pediatrician via the hospital where you give birth.
How do I find an on-duty pediatrician/doctor?
|On-duty general doctors||
There are also 'postes médicaux de garde' / 'huisartsenwachtposten' ('urgent care' that is not serious enough to warrant a trip to hospital emergency department) throughout Belgium. There are currently three in Brussels - see the website www.famgb.be for details.
So, you've managed to see the doctor, and now you need to find a pharmacy!
In Brussels, around 20 pharmacies are 'on duty' every week, and will be open later than usual. However, only a few of these will be open throughout the night. Most pharmacies display a list of 'late opening' pharmacies on their door/window - these will usually be open until 23:00.
For a list of pharmacies open between 23:00 and 09:00 call +32 (0)900 10 500 or go to the site:
Outside of regular pharmacy hours, you may have to pay a one-off supplement if you buy non-prescription items.
Other useful contacts
If you know or think your child has injested or come into contact with a hazardous substance
Main helpline: +32 (0)71 448 000
Under Belgian law, vaccination against polio is mandatory. You will need to show proof that your baby has been vaccinated against polio before he/she can attend daycare.
For daycare overseen by the Office de le Naissance et de l'Enfance (ONE), you will also need to show proof that your baby is vaccinated against diphtheria, whooping cough, type b Haemophilus influenzae, measles, rubella (German measles) and mumps.
The ONE/Kind en Gezin offer free vaccination programmes, based on the recommendations of the Superior Health Counsel of Belgium. If you choose to take advantage of this programme, you do not need to acquire the vaccinations yourself - the ONE/Kind en Gezin pediatricians keep the necessary vaccinations in stock.
Most mutuelles offer a childcare service if your child (from 3 months to 14 years) is too sick to go to daycare/school. Subject to certain conditions and availability, a qualified childminder will come to your home to look after your child. You will need to have a doctor's note stating that your child needs to be looked after.
The cost is around €3 per hour, and you can usually have 12 days per year per child, with a maximum of 10 hours per day, and 3 days per illness. Check with your own mutuelle for details.
The childminder only looks after your child - no other domestic tasks can be requested. In Brussels, demand for this service is very high, so you need to contact your mutuelle as soon as you know you will need the service. Depending on availability, it may be possible to arrange care for the following day.
Following an infant first aid course is an easy way to gain knowledge and skills that can help you keep your children safe and healthy:
For a list of Brussels hospitals with emergency and pediatric departments see the website Hospichild - this site is a wonderful resource for any parent whose child needs to be hospitalised.
Also worth mentioning are: