Life with your new baby

Congratulations on the birth of your baby!

Welcome to the world of parenting! As the parent of a new baby, you will experience many changes and may have many questions.

Ottawa Public Health is here to help. 

Postpartum handout

You may have received the Parenting in Ottawa postpartum handout after giving birth to your baby. Below you will find links to resources shared in that handout.

Parenting in Ottawa Drop-Ins

Mental Health Resources for Postpartum Families

Infant Feeding Resources in Ottawa

Ontario Breastfeeding Services

Understanding and Coping with Your Baby's Crying (CHEO)

EarlyON Programs and Resources for Families

Here Comes Baby Video Series
A video series for new and soon-to-be parents! Watch local parents, health professionals and experts discuss the realities of life with a new baby. 
 The Healthy Babies, Healthy Children home visiting program
The Healthy Babies, Healthy Children home visiting program is designed to help parents who need more support give their children a healthy start.*

A Public Health Nurse is available to:

  • Meet with you at your home to discuss how we can help your family.
  • Assess your family's health, including mental health, parenting challenges and stresses affecting your family and also your child's growth and development.
  • Provide health teaching, counselling, and active support.
  • Help you to connect with community resources
  • Involve other members of their team - family visitors and a social worker, as needed

*Eligibility is subject to a needs-assessment. For more information, visit our Home Visits - Healthy Babies, Healthy Children page

 Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page
The Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page is moderated by Ottawa Public Health and is updated by a Registered Nurse Monday to Friday, 8:00am - 3:00pm (excluding holidays). It's our mission to share information, respond to your parenting questions and create a safe place for parents to get together to chat about raising kids in Ottawa. 


Parenting topics include:

  • family planning
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • the growth and development of your child
  • physical activity
  • healthy eating
  • child safety
  • mental health
  • how to talk to your child and teen about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs 
  • how to talk to your child and teen about puberty and sexuality
  • community services for your family

What are you waiting for?! Join the conversation

 Weekend services

If you need help, for you or your newborn, on the weekend:

In person:

  • Parenting in Ottawa Drop-ins to speak to a Public Health Nurse and a Certified Lactation Consultant:

  • The hospital where you gave birth: some hospitals offer a postpartum clinic or may direct you to one. Contact your hospital for more information.

  • Your medical clinic: some clinics offer walk-ins or appointments with a physician on-call on the weekends. Call your clinic or check their website.

By phone:

  • Call 8-1-1 to connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages.

Websites:

Learn more about...

 Feeding your baby

Choosing what and how to feed your baby is an important decision for a new parent. Check out the following information: 

Breastfeeding

Breast milk is the natural food for newborns. It offers everything a baby needs. 

Check out our Breastfeeding Section, or one of the links below.

Bottle Feeding

Bottle Feeding (Parenting in Ottawa). Topics include: 

    • How to know if baby is hungry
    • Baby formula
    • How to bottle feed baby
    • Transitioning to an open cup and introducing cow's milk 

Introduction to Solids

  • Introducing Solids 6 to 12 months (Parenting in Ottawa). Topics include:
    • Signs of readiness
    • Breastfeeding while introducing solids
    • Using an open cup
    • Healthy relationship with food
    • Baby-led feeding
    • Spoon feeding
    • Gagging
    • Iron rich foods
    • Textures
    • Priority allergens
    • Meal timing and sample meal plans
    • All about milk
    • Foods to avoid and choking prevention

Additional Nutrition Information

 Safe Sleep

To reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), it is recommended that babies be placed on their back to sleep on a firm flat surface. SIDS is less common in babies who sleep on their back. Learn more about safe sleep and sleep behaviour.

 Infant crying
Crying is an important way that your baby communicates to you before he/she can speak.
 Infant mental health and responding to your baby's cues

Responding to your infant's needs and cues from birth will help your baby to grow up happy and healthy.  Learn more about mental health and attachment, and how to help your little one to feel safe and loved.

The emotional bond between your child and you is called attachment.

 Safety

As a parent you want your baby to be happy, healthy and safe. Learn more by selecting one of the options below:

Emotional changes in the postpartum period

New parents often experience emotional changes after the birth of their baby. It is important to care for yourself. Learn more about your emotional health and well-being after childbirth and where to get help.

Taking care of yourself

Life changes with a new baby. As exciting as each new moment can be, there can also be hard times. Coping with the hard times can be even harder if you are not getting enough sleep. Sleep can affect how you feel emotionally and physically. Remember, your needs matter too and it is important to take care of yourself.

You can try:

  • Sleeping when your baby sleeps.
  • Asking for help from others. Try being clear about what help you need.
  • Being active (PDF) because it can help clear your mind, reduce stress, increase your energy and meet others.
  • Eating a well-balanced diet. For more information, visit Canada's Food Guide.
  • If you have a partner, work together during the night to feed and care for your baby. For example, your partner can change the diaper and you can feed.

If you are not feeling like yourself, or you are worrying your partner, it is important to get help. Some women experience postpartum blues or more serious, postpartum depression.

Immunization
Your baby's first vaccines are at 2 months of age. Learn more about your child's immunization record and schedule.  
Plagiocephaly (flat head)

It's important that your baby sleeps on his back. Babies who lie in one position for long periods of time can develop a flat area on their head, as their skull bones are soft until about one year of age. During waking hours tummy time is a great way to interact with your baby.

Dental health
Even though your little one doesn't have teeth yet, it's important to know how to care for your baby's gums. Now is the time to start good oral hygiene habits.
Visual Health

Visual health is important for your new baby. Infants and toddlers should have their first eye examination between the ages of 6 and 9 months.

Fever
As a new parent, you may question whether or not your baby has a fever. Visit The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario's website to know what to do.
Growth and development

Learn more about your child's growth and development, and what you can do to help your little one explore and discover his environment.

Speech and language
The first years of life are very important for learning speech and language. From the time they are born, children start communicating. Very early in their lives, they learn to understand what you are saying and to make sounds of their own. Eventually, these sounds and babbling will turn into words.  First Words is Ottawa Preschool Speech and Language program which focuses on prevention, early identification and treatment of speech and language. Visit First Words for more information.
Smoke free homes and second hand smoke
Are you, or is someone in your home a smoker?  Learn more about second hand smoke, and how to protect your baby by not smoking in your vehicle and by having a smoke free home.

The City of Ottawa's smoke-free regulations are designed to protect children and non-smokers from second-hand smoke.

Childcare
Have you thought about childcare services for your new baby? There are many options you can choose from and it is important to register early.
Community resources
Ottawa is a city where many resources in the community are available for you to connect with other parents.
Emergency preparedness
All new parents should have an emergency plan so that they are ready and can ensure that they have what they need in situations when usual sources of help are not available.

For example, your emergency food and water kit should contain adequate supplies to keep you and your family self-sufficient in your home for at least three days.

It is important to review the emergency preparedness checklist and the emergency preparedness special needs kit to ensure your safety and the safety of your family.

Balancing demands
It can often be hard to balance demands. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 58% of Canadians report "overload" with demands. These pressures include work, home and family, friends, physical health, volunteer and community service.

Here are some tips for you to help balance your demands:

  • Ask for help
  • Write down 3 things you are thankful for each day, even if you find it hard  
  • Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night 
  • Don't try to do it all
  • Take care of your well-being 
  • Use your vacation time 
  • If you get sick, stay home 
  • Plan ahead
  • Set firm limits between your work and non-work time
  • Say no. Be honest with yourself about how much you can handle.

If you are returning to work, it can be a hard transition for both parents and children. You may want to talk to your employer about a flexible work day or slowly returning to work. Take the Work-Life Balance Quiz and Learn more about ways to help bring yourself into balance (CMHA)

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit Health811.ontario.ca.
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit 211ontario.ca.
  • Connect with other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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