Frequently Asked Questions
- Using Text4baby
- About the Program
- About the Text4baby Messages
- Partnering with Text4baby
Q: You say that this service is free. Is that really true?
A: Yes. Thanks to the support of The Wireless Foundation and participating mobile operators, all messages you receive from text4baby on these participating carriers are free! Even if you don’t have a text messaging plan, you can get these messages for free. If you have limited texting per month, text4baby won’t take away from your total amount of messages. The majority but not all mobile carriers are providing this service. It is available to over 96% of people with cell phones in the U.S. Every effort has been made to block service from non-participating carriers, but if you find you have been able to access the service and have been charged, please contact your wireless provider right away. For example, TracFone, which provides the SafeLink and Straight Talk services, does not participate in the text4baby program, but is unable to block the service for all customers, meaning that some TracFone/SafeLink/Straight Talk users who sign up for text4baby may find they have been deducted credits for both inbound and outbound messages. TracFone users are advised to contact TracFone customer service regarding any unexpected charges.
Q: Are the text messages free for people who have pay-as-you-go or pre-paid cell phones?
A: Yes, As long as you have service with one of the carriers listed below, text4baby is free for you.
• Assurance Wireless
• Bluegrass Cellular
• Boost Mobile
• Cincinnati Bell
• Nex-Tech Wireless
• U.S. Cellular®
• Verizon Wireless
• Virgin Mobile U.S.A.
Q: How many messages will I receive each week?
A: You will receive approximately three messages per week on your cell phone. Urgent alerts or breaking news might mean you see a few additional messages once in a while.
Q: Are the messages personalized?
A: The text4baby messages are not personalized, but the information in each message is relevant to where you are in your pregnancy or what your baby is going through at particular stages of development. You can learn more about the text4baby messages here.
Q: What information will I have to provide to sign up?
Q: How do I sign up for Spanish messages instead of English?
A: You can sign up for text4baby in Spanish by texting BEBE to 511411. You can sign up for text4baby in English by texting BABY to 511411.
Q: Can anyone sign up for text4baby?
A: Yes. While the messages are written for pregnant women and moms with infants less than one year, anyone can sign up and use the messages.
Q: Will I get messages with local information?
A: If you live in California, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Virginia or San Diego County, CA, your text4baby messages will contain localized phone numbers (learn more about Custom Text4baby here). Everywhere else, you will receive national phone numbers, but when you call, you will be connected to local resources.
Q: Can I write back with questions?
A: You can’t text specific questions but you can call the phone numbers you find in the messages to connect with an expert. You can also ask your doctor, midwife, nurse, or other healthcare provider.
Q: What if my due date changes?
A: If your due date changes, text the word “UPDATE” to 511411. You will be asked for the new due date, and then the messages you receive will be adjusted to that new date.
Q: What if I deliver my baby early?
A: If you deliver your baby early, you can update by texting UPDATE to 511411. You will then be prompted to text in your baby’s actual birth day and messages will be adjusted.
Q: If I sign up when I’m pregnant, will I still get the messages once I deliver my baby?
A: Yes! At the end of the pregnancy set of messages (around 42 weeks), we will automatically start sending you messages about infancy. To provide an updated birth date and make sure you get the messages on time, just text UPDATE to 511411.
Q: I’m already enrolled in text4baby for my infant, but I’m pregnant again. How can I get both kinds of messages?
A: At this time, you can only be enrolled to get the pregnancy messages or the infant messages, but not both. Try asking a friend or loved one to sign up on their phone for the other messages so you can read both!
Q: How long will I receive text messages for?
A: The messages will continue throughout your pregnancy and your baby’s first year. After your baby turns one, you will receive urgent alerts and breaking news roughly on a monthly basis.
Q: Can I forward the messages to my friends?
A: Yes! We encourage you to share the messages with friends and family and forward the message that explains how to sign up. Tell them to sign up by texting BABY or BEBE to 511411!
Q: How do I stop getting these messages?
A: To stop receiving texts from the text4baby service, you simply need text STOP to 511411. We cannot process your STOP requests via email, so please text only.
Q: I am trying to sign up for text4baby and it won’t work. Why not?
A: The service is blocked on phones that do not have service with one of the participating mobile operators. If you are familiar with mobile operators that are not currently participating in text4baby, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do have service with a participating carrier and text registration (BABY to 511411) is not working, please try registering on the website.
Q: I lost my cell phone. What should I do?
A: If you have a new cell phone with a different number, you will need to sign up again by texting BABY or BEBE to 511411.
Q: I changed cell phone numbers. What should I do?
A: If you have a different phone number, you will need to sign up again by texting BABY or BEBE to 511411.
Q: I am trying to sign up but it says I am already registered. What should I do?
A: Text the word UPDATE to 511411 (or just reply to the last text4baby message you got). You will be able to enter the correct due date or birth date for your baby. If this doesn’t work, try texting in STOP to 511411, wait one day, and sign up again by texting BABY (or BEBE) to 511411.
Q: This has been promoted as a free service but I think I may have been charged by my carrier. What should I do?
A: Thanks to the support of The Wireless Foundation and participating wireless service providers, all messages you receive from text4baby are free. If you suspect you may have been charged for messages to and from the service, please call your wireless provider right away. They will give you a refund if you have been charged for the service by mistake.
Q: When did text4baby launch?
A: Text4baby launched nationally on February 4, 2010.
Q: What are the goals of the text4baby service?
A: The service has four goals:
1. Demonstrate the potential of mobile health technology to address a critical national health priority: maternal and child health.
2. Demonstrate the potential of mobile health technology to reach underserved populations with critical health information.
3. Develop a base of evidence on the efficacy of mobile health interventions.
4. Catalyze new models for public-private partnerships in the area of mobile health.
Q: How long will it be around? Will it always be free?
A: The text4baby service will exist into the foreseeable future. The wireless carriers in the U.S. have agreed to waive the standard text messaging fees for text4baby users through the end of 2014, and we expect them to waive the fees after 2014 as well.
Q: Are you evaluating text4baby? If so, how?
A: Yes. A text4baby evaluation conducted by the National Latino Research Center and University of California San Diego, demonstrated that text4baby is “increasing users’ health knowledge, facilitating interaction with health providers, improving adherence to appointments and immunizations, and strengthening access to health services.” A George Washington University randomized evaluation shows that text4baby participants were 3X times more likely to believe that they were prepared to be new mothers. Data from the Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services showed a lower percentage of missed appointments by text4baby users (11%) vs. non-users (17%) (n=917 vs. 1647). These positive findings are consistent with positive results of 13 out of 14 SMS behavior change interventions evaluated by Fjeldsoe, Brianna; Marshall, Alison; and Miller, Yvette in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine (2009, Vol. 36).
Additional evaluation projects include: US government contract through Mathematica Policy Research; Dept of Defense Military Health System study in Seattle, WA; The University of Maryland School of Public Health, Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy: Small pilot to assess receptivity to text4baby messages and analysis of text4baby message alignment with different health communication theories. To learn more about the specific evaluations and what they are looking at, click here.
Q: I am interested in evaluating text4baby or accessing data to support a project/paper. How do I do this?
A: Please send an email to email@example.com with your specific request and timeline.
Q: How are you working with the Latino community?
A: Click here to read all about text4baby's outreach efforts to Latinos.
Q: Is text4baby available in other countries outside the U.S.? How can I bring it to my country?
A: Text4baby is available to people residing in the United States who have service on a U.S.-based wireless carrier. A separate Russian version of the service launched in Russia in 2011.
Q: Is text4baby available in the U.S. Territories (including Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau)?
A: At this time, we are aware that moms in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are able to sign up. Some of the U.S. territories may also be able to receive text4baby messages free of charge. However, due to the diversity of wireless carriers in these areas, we are unable to guarantee that the service will be free to the end user. Partners interested in promoting text4baby in these territories can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Q: Why was text4baby developed?
A: 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 of all races, ethnicities, education, and income levels obtain better health information and faster access to care, the text4baby service is one tool in addressing poor birth outcomes.
Q: How was text4baby developed?
A: Text4baby is the result of a broad public-private partnership, starting with the foundation of expertise out of Voxiva – an international mobile health leader – and with the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) – a nonprofit with a 30-year history of supporting health education for mothers and babies. Johnson & Johnson is the founding sponsor, providing programmatic support to text4baby, while Founding Partner: The Wireless Foundation was and continues to be essential to the free-to-end-user model by bringing the U.S. mobile operators on board. Grey Healthcare Group, a WPP company, has brought marketing and design expertise as another Founding Partner.
Q: How were the text messages developed and reviewed?
A: HMHB develops the text-length messages and coordinates content review in collaboration leading federal agencies, health care providers, major medical associations, and national nonprofit organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Congress 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.
Q: What topics are covered in the messages?
A: Messages cover a range of topics critical to maternal and child health, including:
• Labor and delivery
• Safe sleep
• Prenatal care
• Infant care
• Oral health
• Mental health
• Smoking cessation
• Developmental milestones
• Family violence
Q: Can organizations view the text content before partnering/promoting the service?
A: Yes. Please note that the messages are copyrighted, and we ask that partners do not distribute the messages outside of their organizations. To obtain the messages, please email email@example.com.
Q: I have an idea for message content. What should I do?
A: We welcome message suggestions for the text4baby service. Requests should be sent as 150-character messages with supporting justification to firstname.lastname@example.org. HMHB will review the message with our team of medical reviewers and provide a response regarding the message status.
Q: Are there any product promotions in the messages?
A: No. The messages are only educational in nature and there are no product promotions.
Q: If my organization does not like some of the content of the messages, can we have certain messages blocked from our population of users?
A: No. The text4baby messages reach all users across the country. The content is scientifically accurate. Messages cannot be blocked.
Q: How can I become involved with text4baby?
A: The success of text4baby is dependent on our vast network of dedicated individuals and organizations that are helping us deliver critical health and safety information to pregnant women and mothers with infants around the country. By becoming part of this movement, you will be joining this network that is working together to create healthier communities. We welcome both individual advocates as well as organizations to join us in this effort. To become a text4baby friend and get emails about how to get involved, fill out this form.
Q: What is the difference between a text4baby friend and a text4baby Outreach Partner?
A: Text4baby friends have agreed to receive email communications from us about the program and promotional tools/opportunities. Outreach Partners sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition agreeing to promote the service. Benefits to partners include access to the text4baby logo and Adobe InDesign art files for customization, recognition on the text4baby website and in select communications, and access to enrollment data by zip code. There is no cost to organizations wishing to partner with text4baby. See our form to learn more about becoming an Outreach Partner.
Q: Does an organization have to sign an MOU to promote text4baby?
A: No. Anyone can spread the word about text4baby by encouraging the women they reach to sign up for the service. To become a text4baby friend and get emails about ways to spread the word, fill out this form.
Q: How do we know if other organizations in our state or community are already involved?
A: You can view the full list of Outreach Partners (sorted by type of partner as well as by state) and also connect with the person who is leading text4baby efforts in your state here.
Q: How do I sign up for the weekly Text4baby Tuesday e-newsletter?
A: You can sign up for the e-newsletter to receive weekly updates about the program, including Text4baby Enrollment Data, media coverage, and partners’ activities.
Q: How can I get promotional materials?
A: Text4baby provides free materials, thanks to the generous support of Johnson & Johnson. Order free materials here or view downloadable and printable promotional materials here.
Q: Do promotional materials say that the text4baby service is free?
A: Yes. The materials also list the participating wireless carriers. View printable Promotional Materials.
Q: How can I customize text4baby to meet the needs of my community?
A: Text4baby offers a customizable version of the service for state and local health departments and health plans. The customized version allows a sponsor to modify a subset of the messages to direct users to local services and resources and send ad hoc broadcast messages to its enrollees. The custom service also provides real-time web reporting to support administrative data analysis. There is a cost associated with this service. To learn more, please email email@example.com.