We know that these are challenging times. When so much is uncertain, it can be comforting to talk about what we do know – that throughout this time, children will continue to learn and grow, and more than ever we know parents want to guide and support that in whatever ways they can. Here is some information and tips that may be useful to as you create positive moments at home. Some of these you can do now, some you can come back to when we all can all move around in the world!
As new parents, you’re aware that as your child grows, they are changing every day. These days and weeks will suddenly turn into months and years, and we’re here to help you along the way. Sure, we’re here to help you learn about your child’s $500 My Alfond Grant, given to resident, Maine-born babies, but we’re also here to be a resource as different parenting challenges arise. While your little one is still little, there are some things you can start doing today to help prepare you, and them, for the future.
Financial Tips for New Parents
It’s never too early to start saving for college. The money you save for your child’s education can make a big difference when your baby is grown up. There are lots of easy ways to get into good habits of spending and saving. Children learn their money proficiency from their parents. It’s not too late to develop new skills if it’s been hard for you in the past. And your child will learn how to save by learning from you.
- Set Aside Savings: Every month, set aside money for savings. Even small amounts will add up. Five dollars in change each week will add up to $4,680 in 18 years, or you can save $500 a year by not buying coffee on your way to work each weekday.
- Give Coupons for College: Send contribution coupons to family members during the holidays so they can contribute to your child’s NextGen 529 account.
- Save on Schedule: Plan on making regular contributions to your child’s NextGen account. You can make automatic contributions through payroll deductions or from a bank account – or mark your calendar to contribute every major holiday and birthdays.*
Finance-related Book Recommendations
- 1 2 3 Slide by Judith Moffatt
- My Granny’s Purse by P. H. Hanson
- Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells
- Benny’s Pennies by Pat Brisson
Additional Finance Resources
- Money management from birth through adulthood. Find more information at gov.
- Your local bank is a great resource to meet with experts who can talk with you about making a plan that’s right for your family.
*Dollar-cost averaging, and other periodic investments do not ensure a profit and do not protect against loss in declining markets. Such a plan involves continuous investment in securities, regardless of fluctuating price levels of such securities. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue their purchases through periods of high or low-price levels.
Health Tips for Parents with Children 0 to 18 Months
Your baby’s mental and physical well-being depends on you. Playing games, responding to his needs, and reading to him all help his brain develop. Baby brains are built from the bottom up, like the architecture of a house. You help lay the foundation for the house with fun activities, proper nutrition, and lots of love. The brain grows with interaction, nourishment, and movement.
- Do the Baby Boogey: Move and dance with your child. Sing to music, follow baby’s lead, and dance outside and in!
- Be Safe from the Sun: While outside with your child, be sure to stay protected. Dress in protective clothing and cover your child’s head with a wide-brimmed hat to avoid sunburns. Always check with a doctor before using sunscreen.
- Brush Up on Dental Health: Daily tooth cleaning helps prevent the #1 childhood disease – tooth decay. As soon as your child gets their first tooth, it’s time to see the dentist.
Health-related Book Recommendations
- The Book of Baths by Karen Gray Ruelle
- How a Baby Grows by Nora Buck
- More More More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams
- Baby Faces by Margaret Miller
Additional Health Resources
- For information on feeding your baby, visit MyPlate or The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Parenting & Family Caregiving website for breastfeeding tips and information on baby food making classes
- Support your child’s learning with lots of ideas and activities with Born Learning, part of United Way.
- With Let’s Go, the whole family can enjoy healthy living!
Literacy Tips for Parents with Children 0 to 18 Months
Even though your baby can’t speak or read yet, she is developing the building blocks of literacy. Children are curious; long before they can read, they love to turn the pages of a book and enjoy listening as you read to them. Babbling is the beginning of a conversation – listen and respond to what your baby has to say.
- Reading all Around: Surround your child with language in your home and out in the world. Read recipes, traffic signs, and magazines aloud and keep plenty of books in your home. Store kids’ books on a low shelf so your child can reach them.
- I Spy with my Little Eye: When out on a walk with your child (or wherever you may be), point out and name all the things you see. Use it as a chance to talk about and share names for people, places, and objects.
- Leap into Literacy: Reading starts now! Sing to your child, look at pictures, and read books together. It’s all part of helping your child explore the world.
Literacy Book Recommendations
- Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long
- Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert
- My Aunt Came Back by Pat Cummings
Additional Literacy-related Resources
- Raising Readers is a non-profit organization that has fantastic resources for parents. They offer everything from book recommendations age birth through the teen years, to literacy activities to do with your child. And, at each well-child visit to your doctor, you’ll receive a book, courtesy of Raising Readers.
- Just in Time Parenting shares free child development information that gets mailed to your home. You’ll get monthly mailings that include information about parenting concerns, child development, and nutrition. Subscribe to the Just in Time Parenting Newsletter.
- Maine State Library is a website that allows you to search for the library nearest you and also has information on news and events -including children’s programs – at libraries across the state.
Science & Math Tips for Parents with Children 0 to 18 Months
Simple play like building with blocks, looking for patterns, learning colors and shapes, and exploring differences between sizes all build the foundation for math and science. It will be a long time before your baby learns algebra or chemistry. Start now to help build a sense of curiosity in your baby.
- Encourage Exploration: Explore the natural world with your child. When you’re walking around the neighborhood, point out trees, colors, and clouds and talk about their size and shape.
- Easy as 1-2-3: Count objects out loud as you give them to your child. Whether you’re in the park or the nursery, there are plenty of ways to introduce numbers and counting.
- Demolition Derby: Stack some cups and let your child knock them down. Babies love grabbing and stacking blocks and containers of all sizes. Your child will love seeing how things fit together and come apart.
Science & Math-related Book Recommendations
Additional Science & Math Resources
- Visit places like the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, or your local humane society, farm, or petting zoo. Your baby can see and hear animals up close and will love it.
- Born Learning, part of United Way, has lots of ideas and activities to promote your child’s learning.
- Get outside and visit one of Maine’s many parks. Your baby can listen to the ocean or the river, feel the rocks and sand, and explore the trees and sounds of the birds.
Parent Resources have been developed for the Alfond Scholarship Foundation (ASF) by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and are provided to you by the ASF, which is solely responsible for the Parent Resources content.