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Best Start: Ontario's Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre


I About us: How we can support you
II Need help with something? Request a free consultation (by phone or in person) in English or in French
III Learn and develop your skills by attending one of our training events
IV Get the information you need, stay informed, and connect with other service providers
V Access new and updated resources for free (downloadable) or for a minimal cost (print copies)

I About us: How we can support you

The Best Start Resource Centre supports service providers across the province of Ontario working on health promotion initiatives related to preconception, prenatal and child health. It is a key program of Health Nexus (formerly the Ontario Prevention Clearinghouse [OPC]), Ontario’s oldest health promotion resource centre. For 25 years Health Nexus has been helping communities to promote health. Celebrate with us and give us your ideas about how Health Nexus should celebrate this milestone at

The Best Start Resource Centre began in 1992 as a unique demonstration project to prevent low birth weight. Funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, the District of Algoma and the City of Barrie were selected to develop and implement interventions to promote the health of women and families, before, during and after pregnancy. From 1992 – 1998 both sites implemented hundreds of innovative programs. Following this demonstration period, the Ministry funded the Resource Centre to build on the lessons learned during the demonstration period and provide support to communities across the province. In 2000/01 our mandate expanded to include early child development and we officially became know as Best Start: Ontario's Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre. Our association with Health Nexus (formerly OPC) began when the demonstration project support was housed in OPC. Today we are a key program of Health Nexus.

The Best Start Resource Centre offers:

  • consultations
  • training
  • resources (free downloadable resources and print resources at a minimal cost)
  • information and networking.

II Need help with something? Request a free consultation (by phone or in person) in English or in French

The Best Start Resource Centre provides free information and consultations in English and French across Ontario on a wide range of topics to service providers who work with expectant parents and young families. Topics range from health before pregnancy, pregnancy (e.g., alcohol use during pregnancy, men’s reproductive health,, maternal health (e.g., post-partum depression, breastfeeding) and issues related to child health (e.g., shaken baby syndrome, infant sleep environment, physical activity and the early years). More information is available at

III Learn and develop your skills by attending one of our training events

Best Start Resource Centre offers regional workshops and other training opportunities in English and in French. Sessions are practical, interactive and designed to build skills.

Check out the web coverage from some of our past events for free access to new information, strategies, and more!

Big Picture ↔ Local Action: Working with Families and Young Children Living in Poverty

At the recent Best Start Resource Centre forum on working with families and children living in poverty, participants had the opportunity to discuss what is needed to address child poverty in Ontario. A summary of their recommendations is available, as well as speaker handouts:

2010 Best Start Resource Centre Annual Conference

The Web Coverage at provides many of the speakers' presentations/handouts. Some topics include:

  • Creating safer space for women who have experienced trauma as they transition to mothering
  • Fitting fathers in: Key ideas from research and promising practices in working with dads
  • Promotion of healthy social emotional development and prevention on pre-school bullying
  • Healthy Babies Health Children Preconference Day: Promoting child development, supporting parent progress, Postpartum Mood Disorders and mental health, and attachment
  • Monitoring progress on early child development in Canada
  • Strategies to promote school readiness in your community
  • Lessons learned for moving the preconception health agenda forward in Canada
  • Safe sleep for infants
  • Management of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy
  • Engaging parents in prenatal and parenting education
  • Red Flags or On Track: Supporting health child development and early identification in 0-6 year olds
  • Engaging children through play
  • A review and update of newborn screening in Ontario
  • Oral health and early childhood: Strategies for service providers and tips for encouraging parents to promote oral health
  • Integrating a family literacy approach in the early years
  • Men’s transition to fathering during pregnancy
  • Opportunities and challenges for moving the Early Years agenda forward in Ontario

IV Get the information you need, stay informed, and connect with other service providers

Do you need help finding information, research, or a resource?

At Best Start Resource Centre, our best resource is our staff who offer services in English and in French. They not only stay on top of new research and initiatives, but also keep in close touch with a range of service providers across the province. The Best Start Resource Centre staff can help answer your information questions or connect you with others working on similar initiatives.

Contact us at for more details about how we can help you gather the information you need.

Join our Networks!

The Maternal Newborn Child Health Promotion Network is a great way to receive regular updates on news, research and events and connects service providers from different sectors and communities.

The Healthy Babies Healthy Children (HBHC) Network is a province-wide electronic forum for HBHC program staff.

The liste de distribution (French distribution list) is used to share information in French about maternal, newborn and child health promotion.

Access the networks at

V Access new and updated resources for free (downloadable) or at a minimal cost (print copies)

These resources are developed either independently by the Best Start Resource Centre or in collaboration with other organizations and experts. Some of the resources are for service providers to use in their practice (e.g., displays for loan to use at educational events or health fairs, program planning guides, reports) and others are to distribute or use with clients such as women or parents/caregivers (e.g., fact sheets, brochures, videos, decals). We produce resources in English and in French and occasionally in other languages.

Many of our materials are downloadable/printable for free. Print (hard copy) versions of the resources are available at minimal costs to residents of Ontario. (If you are outside of Ontario, please contact the Resource Centre for pricing). To access the downloadable/printable resources or to order print copies, visit

Our New Resources for Parents/Caregivers

My Child and I - Attachment for Life (also available in French)
Best Start Resource Centre, 2010

A resource for parents of children aged 0–3 to help them understand the principles of attachment and learn ways to promote attachment. Activities are suggested for each age group.

Smoking and Pregnancy Poster (also available in French)
Best Start Resource Centre, 2010

Poster encouraging pregnant women to stop smoking, or to cut back on their smoking as possible. They are also encouraged to reduce their exposure to second-hand smoke.

Have a ball together! (also available in French)
Best Start Resource Centre, 2009

These resources are based on the provincial physical activity campaign focusing on parents and caregivers of children 2–5 years old.

Our New Resources for Service Providers

Borrow a Display! (also available in French)

The Best Start Resource Centre has several displays available for loan. Most are large, double-laminated paper displays that roll into a tube. Some are free-standing, pull-up style displays. Our newest displays are on smoking and folic acid.

Creating Circles of Support for Pregnant Women and New Parents: A Manual Supporting Women’s Mental Health in Pregnancy and Postpartum (also available in French)
Best Start Resource Centre, 2010

Screening, assessment and treatment of women with mood and anxiety issues during the perinatal period has gained momentum in Ontario over the last few years. Support has been recognized as an integral part of prevention and recovery. Many agencies aim to provide support to pregnant women, new mothers and their families. This manual is intended for health and social service providers working with pregnant women, new mothers and their families. It looks at defining support and the circle of support women need during the perinatal period. It provides evidence and ideas from the literature and practice on how to help women create their own circle of support. A helpful template, to assist service providers and their clients identify their circle of support, can be downloaded as well.

Subsequent Teen Pregnancies Report
Best Start Resource Centre, 2009

This report reviews and discusses research on the factors associated with subsequent teen pregnancies, including statistical trends, economic and medical consequences, and effectiveness of prevention practices.

Giving Birth in a New Land – Strategies for Service Providers Working with Newcomers
Best Start Resource Centre, 2009

A manual for service providers, it shares information about the beliefs and practices of newcomer women when accessing reproductive health services. It explains strategies for culturally competent services and is particularly useful for nurses working in hospital obstetrics or in community programs focusing on reproductive health.

Through the Eyes of a Child: First Nation Children’s Environmental Health
Developed by the Union of Ontario Indians, Anishinabek Health Secretariat with support from the Best Start Resource Centre, 2009

This manual looks at some of the environmental issues that are affecting First Nation children on and off reserve. The information provided is intended to support service providrs in addressing the environmental health concerns of their clients in a manner that is culturally sensitive and strength based. The manual includes background information, the impact on First Nation children, information about First Nation initiatives, recommended strategies, and parent handouts.