The mission behind text4baby is an important one, especially for any first-time mom. It’s not only overwhelming figuring out what you need to plan for parenthood, but it’s equally overwhelming when attempting to keep up with all the available information related to your pregnancy and the health of your baby.
Text4baby aims to simplify that, so read on to learn more.
What is text4baby?
Text4baby is a free text messaging service for pregnant women and moms with babies under one. You can sign up for the service by texting the word BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411. The service provides baby health and safety information timed to your due date or baby’s date of birth.
There are several organizations behind text4baby. Can you tell us about them?
Text4baby is the result of a broad public-private partnership with multiple organizations and companies coming together to provide this innovative service. Text4baby is a free service of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) – a nonprofit with a 30-year history of supporting health education for mothers and babies. Text4baby was created in collaboration with Founding Sponsor Johnson & Johnson, and founding partners Voxiva – an international mobile health leader, CTIA – The Wireless Foundation – an organization that brings the U.S. mobile carriers on board, and Grey Healthcare Group, a global marketing, branding and advertising leader.
HMHB develops the text-length messages and coordinates content review in collaboration with leading federal agencies, health care providers, major medical associations, and national nonprofit organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). For more information, read about the content development process.
What is your role HMHB and at text4baby?
I am a program manager at HMHB and provide communications strategy and support to text4baby. I work with partners and moms across the country to help spread the word about the free service.
Why was text4baby created?
The United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates among industrialized nations. Over 28,000 babies in the U.S. die before their first birthday and 500,000 are born too early. The causes of poor birth outcomes are complex and include poverty, oppression, lack of access to health care, and lack of information. By helping more moms obtain better health information and faster access to care, the text4baby service is one tool in addressing poor birth outcomes.
How many moms does text4baby currently reach?
Text4baby has reached over 500,000 moms and has sent more than 62 million text messages over the course of three years. Our goal is to reach even more pregnant women and moms. Please let the moms you know to sign up for text4baby by texting BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411. You can use this form to refer your friends.
What else does text4baby offer?
In addition to sending accurate health and safety information, text4baby recently incorporated interactive features into the messaging, including links to more information; prompts to text back when moms find a message helpful; feedback surveys; and modules with more about immunization, Medicaid, and WIC.
The new mobile website also provides information about the service, the enrollment form, and a variety of useful resources that you can access from mobile devices.
For example, you can learn more about how to help keep your baby sleeping safely and infant developmental milestones at different ages.
What has been some of your favorite user feedback on text4baby?
We have had great feedback from moms! An evaluation conducted by George Washington University found that text4baby mothers were nearly three times more likely to believe that they were prepared to be new mothers. You can read more here about our evaluation results that show the success and impact of the service. Many users have told us that they love getting the tips and reminder messages, and the messages always seem to come right on time, as the mom or baby is experiencing something new. You can also read testimonials from our moms about how much they love text4baby.
What are future plans for text4baby?
Text4baby is always evolving to provide the most current and accurate health and safety information, to accommodate for advances in the technology, and react to feedback from our users. Our goal is to keep the service relevant and useful to women throughout their pregnancy and first year so that the text messages remain helpful during a very busy time for families.
What makes you excited about what you do?
I love what I do because I know text4baby helps parents during a very stressful time. As a new mom [to a baby boy named Theo], I know that it’s important to have access to accurate information on my phone. Making sure your baby is healthy is the most important thing, followed by time management. So if we can send health information using a method that is quick and easy for moms, we’re successful.
What types of messages do you send to pregnant moms and new moms?
Text4baby messages provide a variety of health and safety information that is important during pregnancy, postpartum, and during the baby’s first year. Topics include safety, immunizations, nutrition, birth defects prevention, breastfeeding, developmental milestones, and more.
Messages are sent approximately three times a week. Sometimes texts will be sent more frequently to accommodate for urgent, time-sensitive information (i.e. recent information on recalls and Pertussis outbreaks).
See below for some sample messages:
- Calcium helps to build your baby’s teeth and bones. Good sources of calcium are fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt & hard cheeses (like cheddar).
- Have you visited a Dr. or midwife (CNM/CM) yet? Call your health plan or find low-cost quality care at 800-311-2229 or finder.healthcare.gov. After you’ve scheduled your prenatal visit, reply REMIND to set up a text message reminder. That way we can help remind you of your next appointment!
- Being pregnant can be great, but also hard. Support can help. Talk to a friend who’s also pregnant, a family member or someone else you trust.
- Safe sleep for a newborn is on her back in a crib near your bed. Go to text4b.org/106 for more info & a video about keeping baby safe during sleep.
- You are your baby’s first teacher! When you feed your baby, talk to your baby, calm your baby when crying, you are building your baby’s brain.
- Going to need child care? Call Child Care Aware at 800-424-2246 or visit text4b.org/092 for info on finding high quality care (3-4 babies per teacher)
- WIC supports Moms with healthy foods, referrals, nutrition education & breastfeeding support. Call 800-311-2229 or visit text4b.org/018 for WIC info.
- You’re a busy mom and text4baby can help! Reply REMIND to set up a free text message to remind you about your next doctor’s visit or WIC appointment.
How does the team decide which topics to address?
Text4baby has a multifaceted content development and review process. HMHB partners with other experts in this effort, including the following organizations: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and many others. Along with our partners, we review current and accurate health and safety information and decide what is crucial for pregnant women and moms of infants to know.
Tell us about your early days of parenthood and what planning for parenthood was like.
Motherhood is hard! Even as a public health specialist working for text4baby, I couldn’t have been completely prepared for what was to come. As a parent, you try to arm yourself with as much information as possible, but you still won’t know everything before it happens. That’s why moms find text4baby to be so helpful—it is available on the spot and information is always current and applicable to what you’re going through at that time in your pregnancy or baby’s life.
What were your baby essentials?
Some of my favorite things include: the Britax Travel System for easy use of the stroller during those early months, a colorful play mat for tummy time like Skip Hop, aden + anais swaddle blankets to keep my baby warm (since bedding is not safe for use in the crib), a white noise iPhone app like Relax Melodies, and my Medela breast pump (super important for a working mom!).
What would be the top tips on being a mother you wish you knew then but know now?
It’s really important to connect with other moms. Parenting is challenging for all of us and it can be isolating to be at home with a baby. To reduce risk of postpartum depression, make sure to talk to others and always ask for help when you need it. It’s also important to contact your health care provider and your baby’s pediatrician with any questions or concerns. That’s what they’re there for!
And to kick off the weekend, here’s the latest parenting quote of the week.