Hearing, vision and health problems

Advice and resources on identifying hearing, vision and other health problems in children.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


Green light bulb

  • All early learning services 
  • Educators, teachers and kaiako
  • Service managers
  • Parents, caregivers and whānau

If a child has a hearing, vision or other health problem, finding it early is good for their learning and development.

What are the signs?

A child with vision problems may:

  • have learning or reading difficulties
  • be clumsier than usual for their age
  • screw their eyes up or tilt their head to see
  • have frequent headaches.

A child with hearing problems may:

  • have speech or language difficulties
  • have trouble following instructions
  • be easily distracted
  • have difficulty paying attention in class.

These symptoms may vary from time to time. The KidsHealth website can give you more information about vision problems and hearing problems in children.

If you think a child at your service may need their hearing or vision checked, or has a health issue, talk to their parents or guardian about options for a check-up.

Signs of Vision or eye problems in children – KidsHealth(external link)

Hearing problems in children – KidsHealth(external link)

Remind parents and whānau about Well Child Tamariki Ora

The Well Child Tamariki Ora programme consists of a series of health visits and other forms of support that are free to the families of all children from approximately six weeks old up to five years of age.

Well Child Tamariki Ora(external link)

  • Well Child Tamariki Ora nurses are experts in child health and growth, and support parents to protect and improve their child’s health.
  • The child's hearing and vision will be discussed at each Well Child Visit, and will be screened at the B4 School Check.(external link)
  • After the screening, the nurse may offer to refer the child for a hearing or vision assessment. This can be done at the family’s local hospital or by a private eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) or ear doctor (audiologist).

Visits to hospital specialists and special education services are free, but there may be a wait to get seen. Parents can decide to use a private provider, but this will usually mean they have to pay for the service.

It is never too late for a family to sign up with a Well Child Tamariki Ora provider. Parents can find Well Child Tamariki Ora services in their area here.

Find a Well Child Tamariki Ora provider(external link)

In emergencies

In an emergency, dial 111 immediately for an ambulance.

General practices (GP)

It’s easy to enrol and costs nothing. Once a child is enrolled, visits to general practice and after-hours services are usually free until they are 13 years old.

Enrolling your child with a general practice – KidsHealth(external link)

Dental care

For free children’s dental care, parents should contact their local Community Oral Health Service, 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583(external link)). Children are entitled to free dental care until they are 18.


Parents can talk to a registered nurse any time of the day or night through Healthline (0800 611 116(external link)), or call Plunketline (0800 933 922(external link)) for parenting advice from a Plunket nurse. These calls are free, including from mobile phones.

Healthline(external link)

Plunketline – Plunket(external link)

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback