Injury Prevention

Preventing Injuries

Injuries are one of the leading causes of hospitalization and death of young children. In many cases, these injuries could have been prevented.

To learn more about keeping children safe, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or visit one of the websites listed below.

Resources:

Immunization

Immunization (Vaccination)

Immunizing babies and young children protects them from diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella.

Students in schools are required to be immunized against tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. In 1990, the Ontario government passed a law called the “Immunization of School Pupils Act” (ISPA). This Act requires health units to collect and maintain the immunization records of all students attending schools. Health units maintain records of the immunization status of all children.

In the event of an outbreak of one of the designated diseases, unvaccinated children are excluded from school until the Medical Officer of Health is satisfied the outbreak has ended. With appropriate legal documentation, exemptions based on medical, religious, or philosophical reasons are allowed.

If students do not provide an immunization record or legal exemption, they may face suspension from school until documentation of immunization or until the health unit receives the exemption.

Similarly, children attending Child Care Centres/Daycares are required to have their childhood immunizations up to date.

For more information about vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization in Ontario, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507.

Prenatal Program eClass

Pregnant or planning for a baby?

Our free online Prenatal Program is for you!

Get access to reliable, accurate information on pregnancy, labour and birth, and caring for your newborn – all in a web-based, mobile-friendly format. We use InJoy eClasses* to provide you access to: resources, videos, fun quizzes, learning activities, helpful web links (including local support services), downloadable information sheets and a parents’ toolbox loaded with interactive features.

Get access to reliable, accurate information on pregnancy, labour and birth, and caring for your newborn – all in a web-based, mobile-friendly format. We use InJoy eClasses* to provide you access to: resources, videos, fun quizzes, learning activities, helpful web links (including local support services), downloadable information sheets and a parents’ toolbox loaded with interactive features.

It’s trusted education… your way!

How to Access the Site:

  1. Visit InJoy Online.
  2. Click on Create Account.
  3. Fill out your Name, Email and Password.
  4. Enter redemption code: hkprbaby
  5. Click Validate.
  6. Accept the Terms and Conditions.
  7. Click Complete.
  8. Log in to your Dashboard to view the eClass content.

Let’s stay in-touch! Via email, we’ll confirm your registration and send reminders about the online course.

Need more help? Email us (healthyfamilies@hkpr.on.ca) or call 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5003.

**InJoy eClasses are hosted by a third-party vendor in the United States of America that collects and maintains your first/last name, email and password for 13 months. InJoy’s privacy policy is available in the Terms and Conditions on the registration website.

Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program

The Healthy Babies Healthy Children (HBHC) Program is a free, confidential and voluntary program for pregnant women and families with children up to age six.

The Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program provides you with advice and support at various stages to help you give your children the best start in life.

When your baby arrives

A Public Health Nurse will phone within a few days after your hospital discharge to see how you are doing. Home visits are provided if you need support to make a healthy adjustment in the first few weeks after having your baby.

You can receive information and support about:

  • Feeding your baby
  • Staying physically and emotionally healthy
  • Dealing with occasional feelings of sadness
  • Being a parent
  • Encouraging your baby’s growth and development
  • Keeping your baby safe
  • Finding community resources you may need

A Public Health Nurse and a Family Home Visitor will provide home visiting to those families that would benefit from learning more about growth and development, positive parenting and community resources.

To learn more about the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577

Additional Resources:

Healthy Babies Healthy Children – Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services

Nutrition

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Feeding your Baby

Your Health Unit is here to support you!

Family Health staff can answer any questions you have about feeding your baby. Watch this video to learn about one-on-one Breastfeeding Support available for breastfeeding women.

Call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 for more details.

Daycares

Day nursery operators and staff play a key role in the health of children in their care. The HKPR District Health Unit works with staff and parents to help keep children healthy.

For more information, contact the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577.

Parents

The health of your family is important. The HKPR District Health Unit offers a variety of programs, services, support and resources to help babies and children grow up healthy.

For more information, call us toll-free at 1-866-888-4577.

Speech and Language

Speech and Language

Communication Counts!

By the time most children are four years of age, they can speak and communicate well with others. However, some children have difficulty developing their speech and language skills. This puts them at risk for failure in school, which could lead to further problems later in life. As parents, we all want the best for our children.

Make sure your baby, toddler or preschooler’s speech skills are on track by calling the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 and having your child’s speech skills checked over the phone. For more information, call your local health unit, a partner in the District Preschool Speech and Language Program.

Babies and Sleep

Sleep is important for your baby’s growth and development, especially for their rapidly developing brain. Each baby’s sleep pattern will be different, depending on their personality and temperament.

In general, you can expect to see some of the following changes during the first year of life:

Babies less than three months of age:

  • normally sleep between 14 to 17 hours during a 24-hour period,
  • usually wake every two to three hours to feed,
  • have irregular sleep patterns and may sleep at any time of the day or night, and
  • spend a lot of time in active sleep and may move, grunt and twitch during sleep. This may cause a baby to wake up not long after they fall asleep, just before moving into quiet sleep.

Babies three to six months:

  • normally sleep 12 to 16 hours during a 24-hour period, including naps,
  • continue to wake frequently to feed,
  • may have a more regular sleep pattern, with more time spent in quiet sleep, and
  • may begin to stay awake longer during the day and sleep for longer stretches at night.

Babies six to 12 months:

  • normally sleep 12 to 16 hours during a 24-hour period, including naps,
  • may still wake during the night to feed,
  • may develop a more regular sleep routine, and
  • may transition from many short naps to fewer, longer naps.

Infants have shorter sleep cycles than adults (about 60 minutes), and they may wake up as they move from one sleep cycle to the next.

Still have questions about your baby’s sleep? Call one of our Healthy Families nurses at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5003.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the death of an otherwise healthy baby under one year of age, with no identified cause after autopsy. An infant’s sleep environment can impact their risk for death or injury. When the sleep environment is a contributing factor (e.g. such as with suffocation), it is called sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). Babies can be injured if left unsupervised in an unsafe place, or if infant products are not used as intended.

Help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS):

  • Place your baby on their back for every sleep.
  • Place your baby to sleep alone in a crib, cradle, or bassinet that meets Health Canada’s safety regulations.
  • Ensure a smoke-free environment for your baby, before and after birth. This means preventing first, second and third-hand smoke exposure.
  • Breastfeed your baby.
  • Ensure the mattress is firm with a tight fitted sheet and no loose bedding, bumper pads, or toys.
  • Keep your baby in the same room with you during the first six months of life.
  • Ensure your baby is not covered in any way.
  • Dress your baby in a fitted one-piece sleeper.
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Do not swaddle your baby.

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome is a condition that occurs when a baby is shaken violently. Shaking is a potentially fatal form of child abuse.
If a baby is shaken with force, it can lead to a lifetime of problems:

  • Shaking can damage a child’s brain
  • Shaking can cause permanent disabilities like blindness or paralysis
  • Shaking can even cause death

Never, never shake a baby! No child, at any age, should ever be shaken.

Sleeping

Helping your baby sleep

It takes time for infants to develop a circadian rhythm cycle (having more awake time during the day and sleeping more at night). However, parents and caregivers can help their baby develop healthy sleep habits right from birth. Try these tips when putting your baby to sleep:

  • Allow natural sunlight into the home during the day and keep the lights low at night. This will help your baby learn the difference between day and night.
  • Start a calming bedtime routine with your baby, including things such as reading a story, bath time, baby massage, singing or rocking. Stay consistent and over time babies may learn that the routine and their crib mean it is time for sleep.
  • Some babies may need more help than others to fall asleep. Try feeding, rocking, singing, shushing or patting to help soothe your baby.

Helping your baby nap

Napping helps a baby to sleep better at night. Keeping your baby awake during the day will not help your baby sleep longer at night. Some babies nap as little as 20 minutes, while others may nap for 3 or more hours. Both are normal. Try these tips to help your baby nap:

  • It may be helpful to use a shorter version of your baby’s bedtime routine before a nap, for example, a short story and cuddle.
  • Whenever possible, place your baby to sleep in the same place for daytime napping and night-time sleeping.

Pregnancy & Childcare

Is cannabis safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding?

There is NO known safe amount of cannabis use while pregnant or breastfeeding regardless of how it is used (smoked, vaped, eaten, taken as a pill, applied as a cream).

The chemical THC in cannabis is passed on to your baby during pregnancy and when breastfeeding.

The safest option for you and your baby is to NOT use cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Using cannabis can have harmful effects on your own health, as well as your relationships, and your child’s health and development.

While more research is needed, studies have shown that cannabis use during pregnancy poses risks to babies and children and may have long-term effects on teens and young adults. Some of these risks include:

Risks to Babies:

  • lower birth weight,
  • increased risk of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) admission ,
  • increased startles and tremors (e.g., shaking), and
  • changes in sleep patterns.

Risks to Children:

  • poorer attention (e.g., easily distracted),
  • poorer memory,
  • behaviour issues,
  • difficulties in school, and
  • mental health concerns (e.g., symptoms of depression).

Risks to Teens and Young Adults:

  • increased risk of behavioural problems,
  • poorer school performance, and
  • more likely to start trying and using cannabis or other substances (e.g., tobacco, alcohol) at an earlier age.

Read More:

  • Information for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Mothers
  • Best Start – Risks of Cannabis on Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Parenting
  • The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

How does cannabis affect fertility?

Cannabis use may affect the ability to become pregnant because heavy cannabis use can change menstrual cycles for women, and lower sperm count and cause poor sperm quality in men.

If I use cannabis while breastfeeding, can I just pump and dump?

The chemical “THC” in cannabis can stay in your body for weeks. This chemical can be passed on to your baby through breast milk. The safest option for you and your baby is to not use cannabis when breastfeeding

Can second-hand cannabis smoke harm my baby or child?

Like tobacco smoke, secondhand cannabis smoke is harmful, especially for babies and children. Smoke or vape away from your children and not inside your home or car.

How can cannabis affect my ability to care for my child?

The THC in Cannabis can make you feel sleepy, affect your focus, ability to remember and react quickly. This may affect your ability to respond to your child’s needs (e.g., hunger cue) and safety. Remember, the effects of cannabis can last for a few hours

Cannabis use can cause confusion, affect mood and the ability to make decisions.

Help for Parents & Caregivers

Talking to your child or teen about marijuana can be challenging, but talking openly with your child, letting them know they can talk to you about cannabis, and being non-judgmental will go a long way.

What are the health risks to my teen for using cannabis?

Youth and young adults under the age of 25 who use cannabis are at higher risk of harmful effects on brain development and function that may become permanent. This is because the brain continues to develop until the age of 25, and the THC in cannabis affects the parts of the brain that direct brain development.

Young people who use cannabis are at higher risk of:

  • mental illness (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or other psychosis),
  • addiction to cannabis (Cannabis Use Disorder),
  • problems with memory, thinking, learning, problem-solving skills,
  • behavioural issues,
  • difficulties with relationships at home, school or work, and
  • lung and respiratory problems from smoking cannabis.

Young people who use cannabis may also use it with other substances such as alcohol, which intensifies the effects and can lead to more health risks and worsening judgment leading to reckless behavior (such as driving while impaired, having unprotected sex, or other risk-taking behaviors).

For more information: Cannabis: What Parents/Guardians and Caregivers

Need to Know

What are some reasons my teen may use cannabis?

Teens have given the following reasons for why they have used cannabis:

  • it’s acceptable in friend and family circles,
  • to fit in with friends or family,
  • because it’s available and accessible to them,
  • the perception that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and other substances, and
  • to cope with stress.

How do I talk to my child or teen about cannabis?

Talking with your child about drugs and alcohol can be tough, but there are ways to engage your teen that promote open and positive communication. Overall, talking with your child openly and regularly, and being actively involved in their life is most important.

Setting the stage for a conversation with your teen about substance use:

  • Keep an open mind (try not to judge or condemn).
  • Put yourself in your teen’s shoes to understand how they feel.
  • Be clear about your goals for the conversation.
  • Be calm and relaxed.
  • Be positive.
  • Don’t lecture or shame.
  • Find a comfortable setting.
  • Be aware of body language (avoid finger-pointing or crossing your arms).

What are some signs that my child may have a problem with cannabis use or other substances?

Signs that your child may have a substance use problem:

  • ignoring responsibilities at work, school, or home,
  • giving up activities that they used to find important or enjoyable,
  • changes in mood (e.g., feeling irritable and paranoid),
  • changing friends,
  • having difficulties with family members,
  • being secretive or dishonest,
  • changing sleep habits, appetite, or other behaviors, or
  • borrowing money, stealing money, or having more money than usual.

It may be hard to detect a cannabis use problem because some signs can look like typical youth behaviour. It’s best to talk to your child and find out if there’s a problem.

Tips on how to talk to your teen about cannabis: Cannabis Talk Kit – Drug Free Kids Canada

For more help, see Get Help With Drug, Alcohol & Other Addictions

Where can I get help for my child or teen for cannabis use or other addictions?

See Get Help page

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