Having a Baby

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A Parent’s guide to Immunization

Immunization is the safest way to protect your child from 13 vaccine-preventable diseases.

Whether you are in your first trimester, are 30 weeks pregnant or have given birth, it is never too late to obtain information on your baby’s health, development, and security.

Maintaining a healthy pregnancy

The Public Health Agency of Canada has developed the Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, which includes useful tools and advice for pregnant women. Good nutrition and health, before and during the pregnancy, influence the health of the developing baby.

The week-by-week pregnancy calendar allows you to follow your baby’s development.

The Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program is designed for pregnant women and new mothers facing challenging life circumstances, such as recent arrival to Canada; lone or teenage parenthood; poverty; and social or geographic isolation. Services offered by the program vary by location, but often include: nutrition counselling; food preparation training; food, food coupon or prenatal vitamin supplementation; breastfeeding education and support; prenatal health and maternal lifestyle counselling; education and support on infant care and child development and referrals to other agencies and services as required.

Programs to help women maintain a healthy pregnancy may also be offered by your provincial or territorial government.

After your baby's birth

The Government of Canada offers programs and services to help you welcome your baby.

Maternity and parental leave

Employment Insurance (EI) provides maternity and parental benefits to individuals who:

  • are waiting for a child;
  • have recently given birth;
  • are adopting a child; or
  • are caring for a newborn.

You can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits online anywhere you can access the Internet, including at a Service Canada Office. You should apply as soon as you stop working.

Self-employed people who register for the EI program may also be eligible to receive maternity and parental benefits.

Registering your baby's birth

The birth certificate is issued by the province or territory in which your baby was born. You should apply as soon as possible after your baby is born.

It is never too early to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card for your child. With a SIN, you can start saving for your child's education through such programs as the Canada Learning Bond, Registered Education Savings Plan, or the Canada Education Savings Grant.

If you are a resident of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island or Quebec, you can use the Newborn Registration Service to complete your child's birth registration and apply for your child's Social Insurance Number. For the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario, you also have the option to apply for your child's Birth Certificate, at the same time.

You can also apply for your Canada Child Benefits at the same time as you register the birth of your child if you are the birth mother and a resident of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island or Quebec. The information on the birth registration form will then be sent electronically to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) over a secure communication network to protect your personal information. Canada Child Benefits include the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), the GST/HST credit, and any related provincial/territorial programs that the CRA administers.

To access health-care services, your provincial or territorial government issues a health card for your baby.

Registered education savings plan

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is an education savings account that is registered with the Government of Canada. It helps you, your family or friends put aside money for your child’s education after high school.

With an RESP, you may be able to receive other saving incentives, such as the:

Canada Child Tax Benefit

The Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18. You should apply for the CCTB as soon as possible after your child is born.

Universal Child Care Benefit

The Universal Child Care Benefit program issues a taxable $100 monthly payment to families for each child under the age of six to help cover the cost of child care.

Child Disability Benefit

The Child Disability Benefit is a tax-free benefit for families who care for children under age 18 with severe and prolonged impairments in mental or physical functions.

For a more complete list of programs and services that the Government of Canada offers, see the Services for Families and Children page or the Canada Benefits site.

Ensuring your baby’s health and security

A healthy pregnancy and birth, followed by a child's healthy growth and development during the first years of life, will have long-lasting benefits. By helping to reduce injury, disease, and illness risks, you help ensure your newborn’s health.

Meeting the nutritional needs of your baby is an essential step in ensuring its healthy growth and development. If breastfeeding is part of your plan to nourish your baby, the Public Health Agency of Canada offers information.

Your newborn needs extra protection and care. Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada and Transport Canada offer advice and information on safe car seats, cribs and cradles, toys, child care equipment and immunization.

Becoming a parent

When you are having a baby, you may have many questions about the child’s development, behaviour, and nutrition. The Public Health Agency of Canada can answer these questions and offer advice to new parents.

The Nobody’s Perfect program provides parenting education and support to parents of children five years of age and under. It is designed to meet the needs of parents who are young, single, or socially or geographically isolated, or who have low incomes and are less likely to access resources or support in the community.

Programs on baby health, nutrition, and safety may also be offered by your provincial or territorial government.

The Government of Canada offers programs, services, and benefits for children, parents, and families. For information on programs, consult the Raising a family page.

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