Center for Children and Families Clinical Services

Infant Development

Center for Children and Families Clinical Services  

The Center for Children and Families at Women and Infants provides behavioral health services across developmental stages of the family. The staff in the Center for Children and Families provides integrated care across psychology, psychiatry, and clinical social work to support adults and children.  

Developmental stages served include adult services to support women during the perinatal and postpartum period; family-based mental health services for parents and infants; infant services around sleep and regulatory difficulties; early childhood services with a focus on diagnostic evaluation and child/family therapy; and services to children of a broad age range with autism or a parental concern for autism. 

Family Care Follow-up Clinic  

The Family Care Follow-up Clinic is part of the Women & Infants’ Center for Children and Families that provides services and evaluation of all infants with opiate exposure during pregnancy from hospital discharge into childhood. We serve graduates from the Family Care Unit at Women & Infants Hospital and infants born at other hospitals across the region. At the Family Care Follow-up Clinic, your infant will receive a comprehensive evaluation with a particular focus on the regulation of eating, sleeping, crying, and development. We will also provide support as needed and referrals to appropriate outpatient services in your community.  

Contact Information:

Center for Children and Families
50 Holden Street
Providence, RI 02908
P: (401) 274-1122, ext. 48935

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday - Friday

No Show Policy
We have a policy for missed appointments at all Women & Infants Hospital's physician practices. If you need to reschedule or cancel an appointment, please give us at least 24 hours notice.

Our Services

Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic (ASD)

We offer clinical services to children of broad age ranges with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or parental concerns for an ASD.

Services for families include:

  • Diagnostic and behavioral assessments.
  • Psychiatric consultation for behavioral and/or emotional concerns related to an ASD diagnosis.
  • Child and family therapy to optimize the strengths and capacities for families and their children.

Our multidisciplinary team includes child psychiatry, psychology, and clinical social work. Ask your pediatric provider if a consultation at our clinic is appropriate for your child.

Our staff is part of the Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART).

Early Childhood/Family Services

Our Early Childhood/Family Services Clinic serves infants, toddlers, and pre-school age children with behavioral, developmental, and/or emotional concerns. Our clinical staff includes professionals in clinical and developmental psychology, social work, nurse specialists, and occupational therapy.

Our program specializes in:  
  • Diagnosis of early childhood difficulties including behavioral disorders, developmental delays, communication, disorders, and autism.
  • Child and family treatment for behavior and development issues.
  • Working with families around parenting, parent-child relationships, and family relations.
  • Consultation with outside service providers such as schools and early intervention programs.
Who do we serve?
  • Children under five years of age and their families.
  • Children at risk for developmental/behavioral concerns due to drug/alcohol exposure, lead exposure, or maturity.
  • Children with sleep, behavioral, developmental, and/or emotional difficulties.
  • Children in need of psychological testing/neurodevelopmental assessment.
  • Our services are covered by most insurance plans after pre-authorization.
Talk to your pediatrician about visiting our clinic. We can help.
Infant Behavior, Cry and Sleep Clinic (also called the Colic Clinic)

The Infant Behavior, Cry and Sleep Clinic (also called the Colic Clinic) is a one-of-a-kind clinical service for infants with crying, colic, sleep, feeding, and behavior concerns.

We can help families adjust to the disruption caused by having an infant who is difficult to manage in the first few months and/or years of life. Our goal is to treat the infant’s difficulties with crying, sleeping, and feeding. We work with parents to help them promote healthy sleep habits for their infants and toddlers. 

In the Clinic, our behavioral pediatricians, clinical social worker, and clinical and developmental psychologists work together to develop treatment plans for families whose infants are having early behavioral concerns. Occupational therapy is also available.  

Our services are covered by most insurance after pre-authorization.  

Who do we serve? 
  • Infants from birth to two years old.
  • Infants presented with significant difficulties in sleep, feeding, colic, or crying.
  • Families with adjustment issues around the birth of their baby may be experiencing regulatory difficulties.
Questions parents ask about their infant
  • "Why isn't my baby sleeping?"
  • “Will the crying ever end?”
  • “Why aren’t things like I expected?”
  •  “I am so frustrated. What can I do?”
If your baby...
  • Cries more than 3 hours a day, every day.
  • Takes as long as an hour to finish a feeding.
  • Cries and fusses throughout a feeding.
  • Cries each night for more than one hour at bedtime.
  • Has difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep.
Talk to your pediatrician about visiting our Clinic. We can help.
Perinatal and Postpartum Services

The Center offers individual adult services to support women during the perinatal and postpartum periods through outpatient behavioral health services, as well as services during infancy around sleep and regulatory difficulties.

  • Working collaboratively with Women & Infants' Center for Women's Behavioral Health, services for women support their needs around mood and anxiety disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
  • The Infant Behavior, Cry and Sleep Clinic is a one-of-a-kind clinical service for infants with crying, colic sleep, feeding, and behavior concerns.
  • The Infant Toddler Sleep Service works with parents to treat infant/toddler sleep problems and develop healthy sleep habits.
Infant and Toddler Sleep Tips

Healthy sleep habits help babies and children to grow, develop, and be healthy. Sleep influences the baby or child’s mood and behaviors. Being well-rested promotes a positive mood and well-being for babies, toddlers, and their parents. Soothing, predictable bedtime routines that gently prepare a baby or toddler for a night of sleep can be one of the closest, most enjoyable times of the day for parents and their little ones.

Safe Sleep Practices for Infants

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends (2008):

  • Place infants on their backs to sleep. Since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics began the Back to Sleep campaign, the annual SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) rate has declined by more than 50%.
  • Place the baby on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib, with a well-fitting sheet.
  • Make sure nothing covers the baby’s head.
  • Do not use pillows, blankets, sheepskins, or crib bumpers anywhere in your baby’s sleep area.
  • Do not allow smoking around the baby.
  • Avoid letting the baby get too hot.
  • Dress baby lightly for sleep, and set the room temperature in a range comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.

Work towards making bedtime the “anchor” of the day

Instead of thinking of the baby’s day as revolving around when he wakes up in the morning, try to think of the day as revolving around the set bedtime.

  • Try to structure the day so that the baby’s last feed will occur about 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Space naps so the baby will be sleepy for bedtime.
  • Avoid napping two hours before bedtime.
  • Choose a bedtime that works for the family, but consider that a baby or toddler might benefit from an early bedtime.

Benefits of bedtime routines

Bedtime routines can be a close, loving way to end the day.

  • Bedtime routines may include a quiet feeding, a bath, low lighting, singing a lullaby, listening to a music box or musical mobile, sharing a picture book, or rocking gently.
  • By doing the same thing, at the same time, in the same place every night, the baby can develop sleep associations that will help him learn how to fall asleep and put himself back to sleep when he experiences normal nighttime wakings.
  • When the baby has become used to the routine, place him into bed on his back, drowsy but awake. Often the more parents do to try to get the baby to fall asleep, the more dependent the child becomes on parental intervention and the less sleep everyone gets.

Night wakings

  • Night wakings are a normal part of sleep.
  • Sleeping through the night is defined as not waking between midnight and 5 a.m.. It usually occurs between three and six months.
  • 25 to 50 percent of children over six months continue to have night wakings (Mindell, et al., 2006).
  • Night feedings are typically not physiologically necessary after six months (for full-term, healthy infants).
  • Make nighttime feedings a different experience than daytime feedings by keeping them “business only.” This means, try not to rouse the baby very much, feed at the bedside, do not turn on the TV, and get the baby back to sleep quickly. Don’t change the diaper unless you feel it is necessary.
  • Infants who transition to sleep at bedtime using a bottle or breast may want the bottle or breast to transition back to sleep in the middle of the night, even if they are not hungry.

Nap Best Practices

  • Choose a regular time for naps.
  • Anticipate your baby’s nap needs. Being overly tired contributes to increased fussiness and more difficulty falling asleep.
  • For children taking one nap a day, having that nap immediately after lunch helps create a clear routine.
  • Sleep in the same place for naps and at night. Introduce naps with a shortened version of the bedtime routine.

If your infant or toddler continues to have challenges around sleep, call the Women & Infants’ Center for Children and Families at (401) 274-1122, ext. 48935 for clinical support.

Healthy Early Relationships

The Healthy Early Relationships (HER) program focuses on strengthening the parent-child relationship in order to promote child development and healthy family functioning.

Families we serve  

The HER program works with families who have children younger than five years of age facing challenges that may cause stress for the parent-child relationship. These challenges may be related to parental mental health needs, perinatal substance use, extended hospitalizations, out-of-home placement, or other situations that may cause disruptions in the parent-child relationship. 

Our program specializes in:  

  • Providing outpatient infant mental health and child and family therapy.
  • Conducting developmental screenings on infants and children age five and younger to identify their strengths and needs and assist with referrals as indicated.
  • Development of individualized treatment plans for newborns and infants with medical risk.
  • Collaboration with community partners to enhance services and promote positive family outcomes.

Our program focuses on:

  • Strengthening parent-infant relationships.
  • Repairing the impact of disruptions in early attachment.
  • Enhancing parenting skills.
  • Facilitating family transitions.

About our staff:

Our interdisciplinary clinical staff includes professionals with expertise in:  

  • Infant mental health.
  • Family therapy.
  • Parenting.
  • Infant and child development.