With family members increasingly living cities, provinces, and even countries away from each other, it has never been more challenging to find the kind of emotional and social support you need during pregnancy and postpartum. Lucky for us, there are lots of programs set up to fill this need; you just need to know where to find them! Here’s a rundown of some of the programs available to Winnipeg parents and their families:
Healthy Baby “Drop in at a friendly program in your community! Learn about nutrition and health, ask questions about your pregnancy or your baby’s development, do activities with your baby, visit with other parents and moms-to-be, try new recipes and enjoy a nutritious snack, milk coupons available during pregnancy and up to 6 months postnatal, bus tickets and child minding may be available”. These groups meet, under various names, throughout Winnipeg and throughout the week. French language groups (“Bébés, parents et gazouillements”) are also available.
Healthy Start for Mom & Me: “Jeans… camaraderie… acceptance… snacks… neighbourhood-based adult education for expectant and new families with babies up to one year…other practical supports.” This organization runs pregnancy and parent/child groups throughout Winnipeg.
Birth Roots’ Baby Drop-In: “Led by an experienced doula. Our drop in days are open to all new parents. We love to see new faces so if you are a client of ours or not come and join in. We have a very relaxed structure.” Groups run at both the Wolseley and St Vital locations.
Coping with Change: The Women’s Health Clinic Mothers Program runs a free workshop series called Coping with Change. “Coping with Change can help you understand the everyday changes that happen when a baby enters your life. Please join us as we discuss emotional adjustments, relationship changes, and getting support.” Call the Mothers Program assistant at 204-947-2422, ext. 113 for upcoming dates/times and to register.
Pluri-elles offers lots of free programming for parents in French including Triple P parenting support groups. For more info call 204-233-1735, visit pluri-elles.mb.ca, or find Pluri-elles on Facebook.
Tiny Tree Hugger offers a free baby and parent drop-in every Friday from 10:30am-12pm.
Y Neighbours “Are you a mom looking for some adult conversation and a break? Would you like to meet other moms in your community? Are you interested in hearing guest speakers discuss a range of subjects from child behaviour to interior design? Would you like to join other moms on group outings? If so, the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg’s Y Neighbours Program may be just what you are looking for!”
Ride and Play: “Ride and Play is a year-round drop-in play group that provides a variety of activities for children to explore. Indoor play includes a play area for infants, riding toys, craft, puzzles, tools, giant building blocks, and our bouncy house” – held at Earl Grey Community Centre, only $2 per child.
KidBridge: “KidBridge is a weekly English language conversation/play group for mothers new to Canada and their children ages 0-5” — playgroups take place in the North End and downtown.
Winnipeg Dads Group: while this group is affiliated with the National At-Home Dads Network, the Winnipeg Dads Group is for all dads. They offer weekly play groups, and a Dads Night Out event once a month. Family events are also held throughout the year.
Stay n Play at the North End Women’s Centre – A group for 0-6 and open to all mothers/caregivers.
Baby Rhyme Time, Time for Twos, and Pre-School Story Time – at Winnipeg Public Library branches around town. Sign-a-story (American Sign Language) also available. See the WPL website (children’s programs link) for more details.
Parent-Child Coalitions: there are 13 parent-child coalitions within Winnipeg, and each offers programming. See the list below for the coalition in your area [list is a work in progress!!].
- Inkster Parent Child Coalition – “works with families in Inkster with children under 6 years old. Our programs focus on parenting/family support, nutrition/healthy lifestyle, literacy, community and capacity building while encompassing the importance of safety.” This Parent Child Coalition runs several programs throughout the week, including Wiggle, Giggle & Munch, Ride & Play (with a bouncy castle!), Snack and Story, and Bright Start, a parenting support program that offers “Pre-natal & post-natal care, breastfeeding support, nutrition information, healthy checks and immunization.” All this programming is free for free for Inkster families with children 1- 4 years of age to attend together. This coalition operates under the auspices of NorWest Co-op Community Health.
- Families Forward programming (Fort Rouge/River Heights Parent/Child Coalition): Families Forward hosts a wide variety of programming. Click on the “Community Programming” link at their website for a list of all the programs and groups in this area.
- TIE Tykes – Together in Elmwood – TIE is a “parent child coalition working to provide resources for the benefit of children and families in our community.” This group runs drop-in programming for babies and kids every weekday, at the Chalmers Community Centre at 480 Chalmers and the Elmwood East Kildonan Active Living Centre at 180 Poplar. See the website for details, dates and times.
- Communities 4 Families – Downtown Parent/Child Coalition runs some great programming including Wiggle, Giggle & Munch
- FACT programs – this coalition in the North End/Point Douglas offers lots of great programming for babies and young children.
School division programming: Winnipeg’s various school districts offer an amazing amount of free, quality programming for families with young children, not just the students that attend their schools. Here are some of the options:
- Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) Family Centres: The LRSD has family centres ate eight of their elementary schools (Archwood, Marion, Frontenac, Howden, St. George, Varennes, Victor Mager, Lavallee). “The Louis Riel School Division, with the support of the St. Boniface and St. Vital Parent-Child Coalitions, offers programming and activities for families with young children (aged 0-5). All divisional parents and their children are eligible to attend programs, at no cost, at any of the Family Centres.” Visit the LRSD website for current calendars for each family centre. Programs include “Stay and Play” and “Baby Play” as well as parent and other special programs. Many of them are open to residents of Winnipeg at large, not just those within the school division.
- River East Transcona School Division (RETSD) Early Childhood Unit Programming: the RETSD offers a ton of free registered and drop-in (Stay & Play) programs for children from birth to age 5 at schools throughout the district. Consult the latest issue of Kinder Links for all the details – visit the RETSD homepage and select the latest issue from the Kinder Links drop-down menu.
- Seven Oaks School Division Infant, Toddler & Preschool Programming: Seven Oaks provides free child and parent/caregiver programming at 14 division schools.
- Pembina Trails School Division offers free preschool drop-ins and programs supporting families in parenting, literacy, physical health and nutrition and community capacity building in the Charleswood/Tuxedo communities. Visit the Assiniboine South Earth Years website or Facebook page for all the details on their family drop-in centres and programs..
Breastfeeding Support Groups: There are groups run through the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, La Leche League Canada, and The Nest Family Centre, at locations all around the city. See the Breastfeeding Support page for more details.