Information for New Parents
Congratulations on the birth of your baby! As a new parent, you can take many steps to keep yourself and your child healthy.
What You Should Do
Some of the best things you can do to keep your family healthy are to:
- Get regular healthcare.
- Keep your home and car safe for baby.
- Use local services that can help support you and your family.
Get regular healthcare for mother and baby
- Keep the appointment with your healthcare provider after the birth of your baby. This visit allows your healthcare provider to see how you are healing and to talk with you about your labor and delivery, birth control options, and any questions you may have about your health and new baby.
- Find a child health provider for your newborn. Care is best provided in a continuous manner with the same patient-centered medical home. In these settings, many healthcare providers work as a team to improve the health of families. You may also want to ask friends, neighbors, and relatives for a suggestion or call for an interview. You will be seeing this person a lot in the first year for check ups, so make sure the location and their style works for you.
Keep yourself and your new baby healthy
- If you have feelings of depression that go on for more than a few days after giving birth, talk to your healthcare provider about getting treated for postpartum depression. You may also wish to request a free, confidential home visit to get help. (more)
- Breastfeed your baby. Breastmilk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. Most Rhode Island birthing hospitals have “warm-line” phone services that mothers can call after they leave the hospital with questions or concerns about breastfeeding. (more)
- Learn about newborn screening results, programs, and follow-up services for your baby. (more)
- If you have had gestational diabetes, get screened for diabetes and pre-diabetes regularly. Inform your child health provider that you had gestational diabetes, as this increases your child's obesity and diabetes risks. (more)
- If you are thinking of having more children, talk to your healthcare provider or family planning agency about pregnancy spacing.
- If you think you might be in an abusive relationship, contact the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the 24 hour/day Rhode Island Victims of Crime helpline to get help.
Keep your home and car safe for baby
- Put your baby "safe to sleep" for every sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths. (more)
- Learn how to properly install a child safety seat in your car. Safe Kids Rhode Island has a schedule of car seat check events across the state. Your local child passenger safety technician can also teach you how to install your child safety seat.
- Know how to protect your baby from serious falls at home. (more)
- Keep your home smoke-free. Quitting is hard, but not impossible. (more)
- Protect your baby from lead poisoning by making your home lead-safe. (more)
- Get rid of out-of-date medications. Store those you use safely.
- Put the Poison Control Number (1-800-222-1222) on your fridge. You can also order poison control brochures, stickers, and magnets for free online.
Request a home visit
Consider requesting a free, confidential home visit to address any questions or concerns you may have about your new baby. (more)
Apply for WIC benefits
The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program provides many services for eligible families, including breastfeeding support, medical and social service referrals, and checks for healthy foods. (more)
Apply for cash assistance
The Department of Human Services (DHS) Rhode Island Works Program offers eligible parents temporary cash assistance, health coverage, child care assistance, and help finding job training or a job. To learn more or to apply, contact your local DHS office. (more)
Find quality-rated child care services
BrightStars can help you access quality child care and early learning programs in your community. (more)
What We Do
- Offer free home visits to pregnant women and families with young children. (more)
- Oversee newborn health screening. (more)
- Link families with WIC Program services. (more)
- Collaborate with and support healthcare professionals and community groups working to increase breastfeeding rates in Rhode Island. (more )
- Coordinate statewide efforts to reduce lead exposure in children and create safer living environments for all Rhode Islanders. (more)
- Provide services to help smokers quit and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. (more)
- Send the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) survey to women who recently gave birth to identify ways to improve the health of mothers and infants. (more)