COVID-19 Updates

Pregnancy to Pre-School

From baby bump to pre-school, and all the developmental milestones in between.

From newborn to preschooler, the early years are a precious time to watch your child learn and grow. It’s a crucial time for your child’s development, including physical, social, emotional, cognitive and motor skills development, along with speech, language and literacy. We’re here to help you find trusted resources to foster your child’s development.
 
group of smiling young children looking at story held on display by teacher




 

On this page


Pregnancy and Early Life

Pregnancy Support

Postpartum Support

Breastfeeding & Nutrition

Sleep Help

Child Care 

The Toddler Years

Feeding Your Young Child

Toilet Training

Going Out With Your Child

Supporting Children With Challenging Behaviour

Bedtime

Childhood Development

Developmental Milestones

Speech and Language

Literacy and Learning

Immunization

For Early Learners

Ready to Learn

All about JK

Need More Help?

 

Pregnancy and Early Life


Pregnancy Support

During pregnancy, you’re bound to have many questions: Is my diet healthy enough? What should I know about the baby’s development? How do I plan for labour and birth? There are many services in London and Middlesex County that can help to answer such questions, while supporting you through your physical and mental journey. The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) has resources to help guide you, whether you are planning a pregnancy, are currently pregnant, or have recently given birth. Below you’ll find a link to MLHU pregnancy resources as well as to other pregnancy services available in the region.
 

Postpartum Support

Postpartum (after pregnancy) is a time for you to recover physically and adjust mentally. You will have many questions and feelings and there are supports to help you, including:
 
After Pregnancy – Middlesex London Health Unit [external link]
Resources on mental health and well-being, physical recovery and self-care, perinatal mental health, skin-to-skin, when to call the doctor, birth control, sex after childbirth, and more.

I just had a baby – birth to 3 months – Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services [external link]
Resources from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services such as registering your newborn, soothing a baby, Ontario’s immunization schedule, keeping your baby safe, and financial help.

Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre
Merrymount is a caring organization committed to providing around the clock support and crisis care for children and families. We deliver responsive and innovative programs to strengthen children and their families in times of transition.

Mother Reach London and Middlesex
A support group for pregnant and new moms who are experiencing depression or anxiety up to the baby’s first birthday.

Parenting Education
Parenting education programs provide classes, individual consultation or other educational opportunities for parents who want to acquire the knowledge and skills to be effective in their parenting role.

Parenting Groups
Parenting groups bring together parents who wish to share common problems, concerns, or ideas about parenting and child-rearing.

 
Breastfeeding & Nutrition

It’s important for your baby to get the proper nutrients for growth and development.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, and the World Health Organization recommend breastfeeding your baby from birth to 6 months, and continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or more after introducing solid food.[1]

Breastfeeding can come with all sorts of challenges, from sore nipples and low milk supply, to your baby refusing to feed, and exhaustion. We’ve put together a list of local resources to help support you during your breastfeeding journey.

If you will be using Infant Formula, the Middlesex-London Health Unit has helpful information on their Infant Formula page [external link] to make sure that you are using it as safely as possible.
 

Sleep Help

Your body has worked very hard over the last 10 months and gone through tremendous change. Disturbed sleep patterns are common when you’re keeping up with your infant’s demands. It’s very normal to feel tired after the birth of your baby. It may take a few months to return to your usual energy level. [2]

Learn more about how to take care of yourself, and the recommended hours of sleep by age, by visiting these pages from the London-Middlesex Health Unit:
  EarlyON programs, like "Just Beginning: The First Six Months", offer a supportive setting for new moms to talk about topics such as sleep and crying, safety, and community resources. Visit the Family Centre and EarlyON Program Calendar and filter by ‘support groups’ to find programming to help you.  
 

Child Care

Sometimes finding child care that is the best fit for you and your child can feel overwhelming. We can help. We understand that families’ child care needs change, and that children thrive in many different environments. If you are returning to work after a parental leave, sending your youngest to kindergarten, or starting a new job, there are lots of choices for you located in London and Middlesex County. Visit the Child Care page for more information to help you make the best decision.

 

The Toddler Years

The toddler years are a time for your child to put into practice what they are learning and discovering each day, and a time for them to become more independent and adventurous. The resources from this section come from the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s (MLHU’s) ‘Parenting Toddlers & Preschoolers (1-3)’ resources page[3].


Feeding Your Young Child

It can be challenging feeding your child healthy foods and ensuring they receive proper nutrition. Visit MLHU’s Feeding Your Preschooler [external link] page to find nutrition screening tools, information on eating as a family, tips for picky toddlers, and how to encourage your toddler to safely help you in the kitchen. To find more information about healthy eating and your child, visit our Health and Wellness page.


Potty Training

This Middlesex-London Health Unit page is an excellent source of information for “toilet teaching” or “potty training”. It will tell you when you can tell your child is ready to use the toilet, how to get ready, and how you can teach your child.


Going Out with Your Child

Find out general tips for going out, including preparation, travel, and managing expectations from MLHU’s Going Out With Your Child resource page.


Supporting Children with Challenging Behaviour

Understand why your child is physically hurting others and what you can do to prevent hurtful actions in the future by visiting the Hitting, Fighting and Biting resource page from MLHU. 


Bedtime

Sleep is so important for your child’s health (and yours!). Find out what you can do to help establish and maintain a bedtime routine for your child on the MLHU Bedtime page.
 

 

Childhood Development

[From the Government of Ontario]

A child’s early years – from before birth to age six- are very important. Healthy babies are more likely to develop into healthy children, and healthy children are more likely to grow up to be healthy teenagers and healthy adults.

The Government of Ontario’s Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program is designed to help children get a healthy start in life. The program does this by helping infants and children up to age six and their families through:
 
  • screening and assessments to see if there are any risks that could affect a child's healthy development and referrals to community programs and services
  • supports for new parents
  • help in finding community programs and resources on all kinds of subjects such as: breastfeeding, nutrition and health services, parenting programs, and family literacy programs[4]

At London and Middlesex County Family Centres and EarlyON/ON y va program locations, you can connect with other parents and share your experiences. London Family Centres have “Community Connectors” available at each site who can help you connect to parenting and community programs in the community.
You can also browse more services and supports below.
 

Developmental Milestones

It’s a joy for parents to watch their children grow. Although every child develops differently, if you want to look at some general guidelines, the Looksee Checklist from the Nipissing District Developmental Screen [external link] is a free, easy-to-use tool to monitor a child’s development from 1 month to 6 years of age.
Other services and resources in London and Middlesex County that can help you with questions or concerns about your child’s development include: 
 
Child and Youth Community Health Care Programs - This section lists programs and services providing health care services to children and youth.
 
Health Care Facilities for Children and Youth - The health care treatment facilities listed here have a special interest in the health care needs of children and youth.
 
Early Child Development - Middlesex-London Health Unit [external link] – Information on the emotional, social, and physical development of children. 
 

Speech and Language

The Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services defines speech and language disorders as the following:
 
Speech Disorder: A child with a speech disorder has trouble producing sounds.

Language Disorder: A child with a language disorder has difficulty understanding or putting words together to express ideas.[5]

There are many kinds of speech and language disorders and there are many reasons why they happen. TykeTALK offers programs for babies to school age children in the Thames Valley region. Their focus is on early identification of speech and language problems. Assessment and therapy (if needed) are provided by registered Speech-Language Pathologists. Many Family Centres host TykeTALK programs. To find a location near you, search the Family Centre and EarlyON/ON ya va  Program Calendar, or contact TykeTALK directly.
 
For other speech and language development supports in London and Middlesex County, search the services below.
 
Speech and Language Programs
Speech and language programs help individuals who have a communication disorder, such as voice disorders, hearing impairment, delayed language skills, cleft palate or tongue disorder, stutter, or aphasia.

Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists
Audiologists assess and treat hearing, balance, and related disorders of the ear. In Ontario, audiologists are authorized to prescribe hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists assess and treat speech, language, communication, and swallowing functions.

Deafness and Impaired Hearing
Hearing loss ranges from partial to total. Professionally trained sign language interpreters are available to those wishing to access services through the Ontario Interpreting Service of Canadian Hearing Services.

Hearing Aids and Communication Devices
The organizations listed in the link above dispense and/or service hearing aids. Most provide hearing tests (assessments). The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) insures diagnostic hearing tests ordered and performed by qualified physicians. Some audiologists in private practice do not charge fees for hearing tests ordered by a physician.
 

Literacy and Learning
 
Most people think of literacy as just reading and writing.  Literacy is so much more. It is also having the ability to understand, use, and apply those skills so you can participate in school and society.
 
In London, statistics around literacy in the community are troubling. More than one in 4 children are not ready to learn in Grade 1. Significant numbers of children are below the provincial average in reading, writing, and math. More than one in 5 students are not graduating from secondary school. This paints a challenging picture for our community and too many children are being left behind.
 
To tackle this vast and complex issue, the London Child and Youth Network’s Literacy Priority is committed to effective interventions for literacy and learning. It is through the implementation of a community-developed and led action plan that community partners work to meet the Literacy priority goal of making sure children, youth, and families develop strong literacy skills and competencies needed to fully participate, engage, and thrive throughout their lives.
 
Baby's Book Bag: A collection of early literacy resources, including quality board books, locally created songs and rhymes and information about community resources for new and expecting parents with their first newborn.

In London, families wishing to get their own Baby's Book Bag [PDF] can visit any branch of the London Public Library or Family Centre in London.

In Middlesex County, families can visit any branch of the Middlesex County Library, or EarlyON program location to receive their Baby's Book Bag [PDF].

Balu çhon de lecture pour b éb é- Francophone and Francophile families who prefer to access the French version of the Baby’s Book Bag can get one at la ribambelle.

Literacy...right from the start! This locally created video featuring Dr. Jean Clinton supports the London community's efforts to reach more families across the city with information about reading, singing, playing, loving, and talking with babies as soon as they are born. It also provides valuable information about other resources for families in our city, including programs and services at Family Centre locations and any branch of the London Public Library. In addition to English, the video is available in French, Arabic, and Spanish. All versions can be found here.
 
2000 Words to Grow / Let’s Start Talking-
Research shows that the number of quality, positive words a child hears in an hour can dramatically impact their future success. Some kids only get 500-600 words an hour and others get more than 2000! And 2000 is where you should start.
2000 words an hour may seem like a lot, but consider how many words you can share while you talk about produce at the grocery store, during a device-free dinner, or by reading bedtime stories. It's a hundred at least! How many words are in your child's favourite lullaby?

Powering down the screens at home and making words a priority during your daily routine is a simple way to make a huge impact on your child's future - and it's never too early to start. That doesn't mean no screen time, but there are ways to make the most of that too! You can use the Let’s Start Talking resources to get conversation ideas for you and your child including during times like dinner, doing the laundry, and grocery shopping.

Find more literacy resources and services in London and Middlesex County:
 
 

Immunization

Vaccines prevent serious illnesses – including many that are easily spread in schools and daycare centres. For more than 200 years vaccines have been saving lives around the world.[6]

Vaccines in Ontario’s routine immunization schedule are provided free of charge if you meet the eligibility criteria. To vaccinate your child, talk to their health care provider, or go to the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

To learn more:
 
Immunization – Middlesex-London Health Unit [external link]
The Middlesex-London Health Unit follows the Ontario Immunization Schedule and provides free vaccines at the Health Unit's Immunization Clinic and at schools in London and Middlesex County.

Vaccines and Immunization – Government of Ontario [external link]
Find out more about the importance of vaccines and use the “stay up to date” tool to get a personalized vaccination schedule for your child.
 


For Early Learners

Your child is nearing school-entry age, a time that can bring lots of excitement but also anxiety. You want your child to be prepared for this next step, so we’ve put together a list of local services providing educational opportunities for young children where they can interact with other kids and adults. We’ve also outlined steps to register your child for Kindergarten.


Ready to Learn

Kindergarten begins for your child around age 4. There are many things you can do at home and in the community to prepare your child for a positive start on learning, such as reading, counting, and arts and crafts. Visit the Ontario Ministry of Education’s kindergarten preparation page for examples of what you can do at home.

In the community, there are educational activities happening every day. Here are some of the places you can visit for activities and more information:
 
EarlyON programs/Programmes ON y va are an initiative of the provincial government and offer free information, programs, and services to all parents and caregivers with children from birth to six years of age. At EarlyON/ON y va programs you will be able to:
 
  • join fun activities such as reading, storytelling, sing-alongs and games
  • get advice from professionals trained in early childhood development
  • find out about other family services in your community
  • connect with other families with young children

Family Centres provide a single door to many opportunities available throughout the city that support all children, youth, and families in achieving their full potential. Many Family Centres also host EarlyON programs/Programmes ON y va at their locations. Family Centres connect you with information, programs, and services related to:
 
  • parenting and early learning
  • early childhood education
  • public health and wellness
  • recreation, sports, and leisure
If specific programs or services are not offered on-site, Community Connectors and the team within Family Centres will make referrals and connections to meet a family’s interests or needs.
 
London Public Library and Middlesex County Library have programs like Books for Babies and Storytime to help your child develop early literacy skills in a fun way. Find more about the London Public Library or Middlesex County Library here:
 
 
The City of London Recreation Services department [external link] provides a wide variety of learning opportunities and activities for all ages.
 

All about Kindergarten
 
If your child is 4 years old, or will be turning 4 years old by December 31st of the school year, they will be ready to start Junior Kindergarten in the fall. Registration for most schools begins in January of that year, but be sure to check on their individual websites for more information. 
 
To help you and your child prepare, check out the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Kindergarten page [external link], which provides answers to all of the common questions that parents/caregivers have.
 
 

Need More Help?

 
Community Connectors are fundamental to helping London families get connected to services and supports. In every Family Centre, families are greeted by a knowledgeable, friendly Community Connector who helps them connect seamlessly to more opportunities that help them be successful in all aspects of their lives.
 
Contact or visit a Family Centre to speak with a Community Connector.
 
MLHU Telephone Support for Families
Available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm, call 519-663-5317 to speak with a Public Health Nurse from the Middlesex-London Health Unit about questions or concerns about parenting, or caring for your infant or child.
 
Telehealth Ontario
Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential service you can call to get health advice or information. A Registered Nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In a medical emergency, call 911.
 
Toll-free: 1-866-797-0000

Toll-free TTY: 1-866-797-0007
 

[2] Middlesex-London Health Unit. (2020). After Pregnancy – Physical Recovery and Self-Care. Retrieved from https://www.healthunit.com/physical-recovery-and-self-care
 
[3] Middlesex-London Health Unit. (2018). Parenting Toddlers & Preschoolers. Retrieved from: https://www.healthunit.com/preschool
 
[4] Government of Ontario. (2019). Supporting Childrens’ Growth. Retrieved from http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/earlychildhood/index.aspx
 
[5] Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. (2020). Preschool Speech and Language. Retrieved from: http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/earlychildhood/speechlanguage/index.aspx
 
[6] Government of Ontario. (2020). Vaccines and Immunization. Retrieved from https://www.ontario.ca/page/vaccines