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By Linda Wilson

The benefits of understanding and using WIC

Many new moms are given a referral to a program called WIC. Mothers who go on WIC usually start the program as soon as they find out that they are pregnant. WIC stands for Women, Infants, And Children. It is designed as a supplemental program to give women and their children a good healthy start in life.

First WIC appointment

Women who are on WIC while pregnant will go to a monthly appointment where they are weighed and will discuss any nutritional concerns that they may have in regard to their pregnancy. The clinician will discuss any excess or underweight conditions as well as any other health issues that the woman may be having. They may also discuss other problems they may be having such as a domestic violence situation or some other serious dilemma with which the woman may require assistance.

When the woman leaves the appointment she will have some WIC "checks" or vouchers that will allow her to purchase some nutritional foods at the local grocery. In most cases, the woman must select her local store, and this is the only location that she can use her vouchers or checks at.

Checks or vouchers

Each voucher will have specific items on it. One may have a gallon of milk and 2 pounds of cheese. Another may have some juice and cereal. Another may have peanut butter and beans. Programs may vary slightly by state and the products may be slightly different by state and store.

Once the baby is born, the mother has an option. She can either breastfeed her infant and continue receiving the vouchers for food items, or she may choose to bottle feed the child and in this case, the checks must be used for baby formula.

If she is going to use formula, the checks will specify the formula and how much she can buy per shopping visit. Each check (for both food and formula) is dated and must be used by its expiration date.

If a check is accidentally misplaced, or if it's not used, it's important to call the WIC office immediately and let them know. Checks aren't easy to replace and no one except the person whose name is on the front of the check can use a WIC check.

Food options may include:

  • Peanut butter
  • WIC-approved cereal
  • Milk
  • Juice
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Whole grain or whole wheat bread
  • Canned fish
  • Eggs
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • From unborn to five years old

Length of time on WIC

Children can remain on the WIC plan until they are five years of age. At the child's visit, the child will be weighed and measured and the clinician will note any changes that should be concerning.

The mother can receive WIC checks for each child she has in her custody. If she has 3 children under the age of five she can receive WIC checks for all 3 of her children as long as she is within the income guidelines.

All of this ensures that the children are receiving proper nutrition to grow into healthy happy kids. It also ensures that the mother is eating healthy and nutritious meals during her pregnancy. It's a great safety check to help keep children and their mothers healthy and have fewer medical issues during the first five years of life.

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