Information for New Parents

What you can do to get your baby off to a healthy start

Get regular healthcare for you 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. You may 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.

Breastfeed your baby

Breastmilk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. Breastfeeding education and support is available for new parents through the WIC and First Connections programs and through "warm lines" at Rhode Island birthing hospitals. more

Get help for feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety

Many new moms have feelings like these that don't go away or get better in a couple days. Talk to your doctor or call First Connections for a free, confidential visit if something doesn't feel right at any time, even in pregnancy. With help, you and your baby will be well. more

Learn about newborn screening and follow-up

At birth, Rhode screens every baby for 30 conditions, including hearing loss. more

Prevent an unintended pregnancy and plan your family

Talk to your doctor or a family planning agency about a birth control option that's best for you. If you are thinking of having more children, talk about your reproductive life plan and pregnancy spacing. more

Keep yourself healthy and well

  • 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 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 and find a car seat inspection location near you. more
  • 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.

Request a First Connections visit

First Connections is a free service that has supported thousands of Rhode Island pregnant women, parents, and care givers with children up to age three. Trained specialists are available to meet with parents at their home, or in another place in the community. They can answer a wide range of parenting questions and connect you with resources and services to give your child every possible advantage. 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

Make sure the people who contact your baby are immunized

Doctors recommend that adults and adolescents who will be around infants be vaccinated with a single dose of Tdap. This could include parents, siblings, grandparents, babysitters, and other child care providers. Tdap protects against, among other diseases, pertussis. Infants are too young to be fully immunized against pertussis, but an infant's exposure to the illness can be reduced if he or she only comes into contact with people who are vaccinated. This practice is called cocooning.

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