A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation

First-Time Parenting Knowledge

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Don’t you wish babies came with instructions? New parents have tons of questions about their little ones, from feeding and bathing to sleeping and all those little noises they make. And the questions don’t end as babies enter their toddler years.

With three kids under age 3, the Southalls are in constant motion. Twins Everly and Hunter are two and a half. Little Phoenix just turned one. Mom, Micah, was overjoyed and slightly overwhelmed at first at the idea of two at once as a first-time mom.

Micah told Ivanhoe, “I looked up twin mommas, twin parents, mom of multiples. Every kind of blog I could find.”

Maria Ramos-Olazagasti is a senior research scientist at Child Trends. Ramos-Olazagasti and her colleagues reviewed 260 reports and conducted focus groups with 90 parents to learn more about what first-time parents want to know. The researchers found that parents had the most questions about social and emotional development.

Ramos-Olazagasti detailed, “How much crying is normal? How much whining is normal? That’s something parents wanted more information about.”

Research shows that having more information about child development is linked to better parenting practices and child well-being. Ramos-Olazagasti said that parents who are armed with information may better understand the reasons behind a child’s behavior and are more likely to respond calmly. The scientists say parents went to the internet for information and support from online groups, as well as family members and their pediatricians. Despite the time constraint of a visit to a pediatrician, researchers say doctors can suggest other sources of information for parents with kids under three.

“It’s a prime time to really support children’s development and parents’ knowledge about children’s development,” said Ramos-Olazagasti.

The researchers also found that, across all racial and ethnic groups, parents in the focus groups had similar questions, used similar sources of information, and expressed a desire to learn about more effective and less harsh ways to discipline their kids.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Bob Walko, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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