Why a Parenting the First Year Newsletter Series? Early Experience Has Big Impact on Child Development Parents Establish Patterns of Child Rearing Early On Lack of Knowledge About Children Can Lead to Incompetent Parenting
Advantages of Newsletters: Age-Paced to Reach Parents at a “Teachable Moment” Reaches Socially Isolated Families Can Be Shared With Others Low Cost Available in Spanish Easy to Read and Understand (Written at 5 th Grade Reading Level)
Developed by University of Wisconsin-Extension for Two Goals: To Promote Competent Parenting To Prevent Abusive Parenting
Are the Newsletters Effective? The Evaluation Study: Sample Size: 112 Families Response Rate to Questionnaire Survey: 50% Most Respondents Were Mothers (97%) Only 5% Were Single Parents Over One-Third (38%) Were First Time Parents
About 8% Had Family Incomes in the Poverty Range
Did Parents Read the News- letters? They Say “Yes!” 61% Said They Read All Articles in All Issues 50% Save the Newsletters as a Reference
Readership Nearly Doubled By Sharing "Does anyone else read your copy of the newsletters?"
Examples of What Parents Said: “I find your newsletter very helpful & enjoyable, so does my husband. I have learned many things from it.” “My daughters (13, 11, & 7) are very active in my son’s care. They all read the newsletter and it has helped them a lot.”
Parents Rate the Newsletters “Very Useful” for Advice More Often Than Any Other Source, Except Doctors or Nurses
Parents Commented On Their Usefulness: “The newsletter is the best source of information that I have come across. It helped me with my expectations and how to help provide a nurturing environment for our baby.” “I am happy to fill out this questionnaire. It gives me a chance to tell you that I really look forward to receiving the newsletter. There are days where it helps more than you know.”
75% of New Parents Rated the Newsletters “Much More Useful” or “Somewhat More Useful” than Information Received from the Hospital "Compared to the other information I received from my hospital following the birth of my child, these newsletters are..."
Parents Like the Age-Pacing of the Newsletters “It is very helpful that the letters come at the different ages, instead of 1 book with all the ages information, when the baby is born. Thank you for the letters!” “I like the fresh reminder and the fact that I don’t have to go hunting for it because it arrives just before I need a refresher for the next stage. Thank you.”
Parents Believe That Reading the Newsletters Has Improved Their Parenting. “It was good to know about games to play with our baby to help him learn and also some ideas for child proofing I never thought of, like keeping toilet lids closed and turning down the temperature on the water heater.” “Helped me be more patient when my baby cried. I know he wasn’t doing it to upset me but because he needed something.”
Parents Report Changing Child- Rearing Behaviors in 6 Key Areas Self-Reported Behavior Change "Reading the newsletters caused me to..."
68% Said That Reading the Newsletters Caused Them to “Provide More Things For My Baby To Feel, Look At, and Listen To An Enriched, Stimulating Environment Enhances Early Brain Development. Newsletters Teach Parents That the Amount of Stimulation Must Be Tailored to the Individual Needs of Each Baby.
Examples of What Parents Said: “Play soft music and sing to baby a lot. Also, take her out more places like the zoo now that she is older.” “I take my son everywhere, on all my errands so he gets to see a lot of people. He’s very sociable.” I play the baby games from the newsletter to help him develop better.”
62% Said The Newsletters Caused Them To “Talk More With My Baby.” Babies Are Born Ready to Learn Language. When Parents Talk More, Babies Learn Language Better. Oral Language Skill Lays the Foundation for Later Reading Skill.
Examples of What Parents Said: “Didn’t realize how important it was to talk to baby. I talk to him more, like when I give him his bath or take him out in his stroller.” “I always talked a lot, but now I also read more books to her and talk about the pictures.”
60% Said the Newsletters Caused Them “To be Less Angry When My Baby is Difficult.” Parents Are More Likely to Get Angry If They Have Unrealistic Expectations. Newsletters Teach Parents What Behaviors to Expect From Baby at Each Age. Newsletters Also Teach Positive Ways to Handle Baby’s Behavior.
Examples of What Parents Said: “I like knowing what behaviors to expect from my baby so I don’t get upset by some behaviors.” “I like to show the newsletters to my relatives cause they think I should be slapping his hand when he gets into stuff. I can show them he’s too little to know better.”
46% Said the Newsletters Caused Them to “Smile, Kiss and Hug My Baby More.” Babies Whose Parents Respond Lovingly and Sensitively to Their Needs: Develop Secure Attachments with Parents. Become More Competent, Independent, and Self-confident Children. Are Less Vulnerable to the Negative Effects of Minor Stresses.
Examples of What Parents Said: “I always hug and kiss my baby, but my husband does more of this since reading the newsletters. I think before he felt silly.” It’s good that the newsletters tell parents about how important showing love to their baby is. You hear so much everyday about parents abusing their kids.”
45% Said the Newsletters Caused Them to “Make the House Safer for Baby.” Risk of Accidental Injury is Reduced. Safe Homes Allow Children to Explore. Safe Exploration Promotes Intellectual Growth and Development of Skills.
Examples of What Parents Said: “Keep our older son’s toys away from the baby so he can’t put them in his mouth.” “Cut hot dogs and grapes into tiny pieces so she won’t choke on them.” “I never put my baby in a walker since I read how dangerous they are.”
38% Said the Newsletters Caused Them to “Respond More Quickly When My Baby Cried” When Parents Respond Quickly, Infants Stop Crying Sooner. Babies Learn to Trust That Their Needs Will Be Met. Babies Who Are Held More Often Cry Less.
Examples of What Parents Said: “I tried carrying my baby around more in a front or backpack and she really seemed to cry less. Thanks for the suggestion!” “I get a friend to watch my baby sometimes. It really helps to take a break. I can handle the crying better afterwards.”
Which Parents Need Child Rearing Information Most? First Time Parents and Parents Who Experience One or More Socio-economic Stressors Low income Low education Teenage parents Single parents Socially isolated
Risk Group Parents Reported Greater Change in Parenting Than Non Risk Parents. In Particular, Risk-group Parents Were Significantly More Likely to: Provide More Things for Their Baby to Feel, Look at, and Listen to, and to Respond More Quickly When Their Baby Cries Compared to Non-risk Parents (p<.05).
“Reading the newsletters caused me to... Non Risk Risk-Group Percentage of Respondents
Use of Lie Scale Items to Check for Biases Parents Were Asked About Something That Might Have Been in the Newsletter But Wasn’t “Because of the Parenting Newsletters… …I changed how I diaper my baby.” …I changed how I wake my baby in the morning.”
How Reliable Are Self-Report Answers? Common Sources of Bias Response Set Bias Social Desirability Bias
Only 1 Parent Answered “Yes” to Both Questions From the Lie Scale. Their Data Was Removed Before Analyses.
Other UW-Extension Research Showed: Parents Who Received Parenting the First Year (compared to those who did not receive it) were significantly less likely to think it necessary to slap or spank children to get them to mind. reported actually hitting their children less often.
Summary of Evaluation Results: Parents Really Read the Newsletters. Parents Share the Newsletters With Others. Parents Rate the Newsletters Highly Useful. Parents Report Positive Changes in Six Key Parenting Behaviors. Risk Group Parents Reported Learning the Most.
Recommendation: Continue Distribution of The Newsletter Series. Based on Survey Results Based on Parents’ Comments
Summary Comments From Badger County Parents: “I really enjoy Parenting the First Year. Hope you have a 2 nd year too. Parents of toddlers need encouragement & support too. Keep publishing.” “I hope you can continue these newsletters for parents for years to come. Wonderful & useful info for parents, and easy to understand!” “Is there a newsletter for parenting the second year? I’d love to continue receiving these!!”
Acknowledgment of Project Partners: Badger County Kiwanis Badger County Health Department Badger County Maternity Hospital Support staff in the Badger County UW- Extension office
Co-Authors of Evaluation Study: Dr. Dave Riley, UW-Madison/Extension Dr. Carol Ostergren, UW-Madison/Extension
And of course, We thank the families who thoughtfully answered our survey.
Copies of the written report are available from the Badger County Extension Office.