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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Newsletter Has More Parents Reading Along as Babies Grow

LAS CRUCES -- A free, monthly newsletter for parents of newborns in New Mexico is enjoying a healthy growth spurt. "Baby's First Wish," developed by specialists with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, provides information about the first two years of a child's life.

Each month, parents receive articles about their child's development and care through "Baby's First Wish." Diana DelCampo, an Extension family life specialist, and Wendy Hamilton, an Extension 4-H youth specialist, started the newsletter, which is available in both English and Spanish.

"We began with 150 families just three years ago and now we're reaching more than 5,600," Hamilton said. "In addition to parents, their extended families and friends also pick up 'Baby's First Wish.' Our feedback from response cards tells us that actually about 20,000 people read the newsletter each month."

Original funders are Extension and the Children's Trust Fund of New Mexico. Additional sponsors now include the state Health Department's immunization program, the Border Health Program at NMSU, United Parcel Service, Maternal and Child Health councils, Family and Community Educators groups, and Dona Ana County's Welcome Baby and Healthier Communities projects.

Hamilton said the newsletter reaches parents as they're ready to learn about each stage of their child's development. The goal is to prevent child abuse by helping parents cope with the demands of a new baby.

"One big thing we find is that parents are learning how to handle their stress level and their anger when they get frustrated and tired from handling a baby, sometimes up to 24 hours a day," Hamilton said. "They're also learning a lot about nutritional needs of young infants and how to play with their child so that they can have some quality time together."

A group the newsletter targets is teen parents, who make up about 20 percent of "Baby's First Wish" readers, Hamilton said.

"Through some recent focus groups we've conducted with teen parents, we've found that they're very interested in this information and in being better parents," Hamilton said. "Also, they've expressed interest in taking parenting classes for credit as part of continuing their educations."

Hamilton and DelCampo's eventual goal is for the newsletter to reach all parents of newborns in New Mexico. They are currently seeking funding to print and distribute a third year of "Baby's First Wish." For subscription information, call the county Extension office or the state coordination center in Las Cruces at (505) 646-5426.