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Arizona Babies Now Come With Instructions

July 20, 2010

PHOENIX - For those who wish that babies came with an instruction manual . . . Now they do. The "Arizona Parent Kit," providing "resources, information and practical parenting advice," which started in Maricopa County, is now available at birthing hospitals statewide.

Rhian Evans Allvin, executive director of First Things First, a voter-created early childhood development and health initiative, says she personally has benefited from the resource guide and DVDs in the kit, even though she had an excellent support system when her children were born.

"There were times when I felt overwhelmed. There were times when I thought, "Omigosh, am I doing the right thing, is my baby developing properly?" And so those are the kind of things that the kit helps with."

Allvin says if you don't get one when leaving the hospital with your newborn, be sure to ask. The kits are a joint project of First Things First and the Piper Trust.

She says the Arizona Parent Kits include a refrigerator magnet with the number of the "Birth to Five Helpline." And there's another item to get parents started on reading to their kids.

"Board books for mom or dad or grandparents to start to introduce infants to sounds and letters and just hearing rhythmic words and that sort of thing, which we know is so important for literacy."

Allvin says research has shown the parent kits have a positive impact on parents' behavior and interactions with their babies.

"What happens in the first five years of a child's life has a profound impact on what happens for them in school, how they're able to academically achieve, and how they are able to socially and emotionally achieve."

Allvin says the original Arizona Parent Kit was modified and adapted from a similar kit produced by California's First Five program.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ