AMES, Iowa – Along with diapers, bottles and baby clothes, pregnant women can start collecting free educational text messages to help them prepare for baby’s birth.
“Text4baby is a free service that can help you give your baby a good start in life,” said Kimberly Greder, an Iowa State University Extension family life program specialist and associate professor in human development and family studies.
To sign up, text BABY, or BEBE for Spanish, to 511411. Women also can sign up online, as well as get more information, at www.text4baby.org or www.cdc.gov/Features/Text4Baby. Other general inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women who participate will receive three, free SMS text messages delivered to their cell phones each week, timed to their due date or the baby’s date of birth, Greder said. (SMS refers to Short Message Service, messages that contain 160 characters or less of text and spaces.) The text messages include information on topics such as immunizations, nutrition, seasonal flu, prenatal care, emotional well being, drugs and alcohol, labor and delivery, stopping smoking, breastfeeding, mental health, birth defects prevention, oral health, car seat safety, exercise and fitness, developmental milestones, safe sleep and more.
Text4baby messages were developed by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Text4baby messages also connect women to prenatal and infant care services and resources, Greder said.
Another resource to help new parents, Greder said, is Just in Time Parenting, www.extension.org/parenting. ISU Extension is partnering with other extension programs across the country to offer Iowans this parenting research website that features online newsletters, podcasts, videos and publications.
“There is a lot of information on the Internet, and it’s hard to know what is good information and which sites to trust,” Greder said. “The Just in Time Parenting website was created by extension specialists across the country, people with academic backgrounds related to parenting who have worked with parents.”
Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, 515-294-0775,