Your child's first steps, first words and the first time you send your child off to school are all incredible moments you will never forget as a parent. But what about your child's first bad night's sleep? Or your child's first lesson in potty training? How do you prepare for these moments?
The Department of Defense and partner organizations have a number of tools and resources designed for parents with children age birth to 5 years old to answer questions like these and help prepare you for the kinds of parenting challenges that arise during the critical first years of a child's life.
Military OneSource's Parenting page
Military OneSource's Parenting page offers a wide range of articles and resources for parents of young children that address topics such as safe sleep environments, developmental milestones, routines and much more. Article titles include "Quick Tips for Coping With a Crying Baby," "Motor Skill Development: The First Five Years" and "First Day of Kindergarten Jitters: Tips for Parents."
Military OneSource also understands that military families have additional challenges when it comes to raising their children due to the added stresses of military life, including distance from extended family, frequent moves and deployments. The resources on the Parenting page reflect this with articles such as "On the Move With a Baby" and "Helping Children With Goodbyes and Coping With Separation Anxiety," as well as parenting products such as Trevor Romain's Memory Box Grief Comfort Kit which includes a DVD, book, journal, stuffed animal and a special memory box to help kids learn how to deal with grief.
Military OneSource specialty consultations
Military OneSource also offers specialty consultations that give eligible parents a chance to speak with specialists with various areas of expertise. For example, adoption consultants have specialized training and experience with adoption issues and can help you resolve all of your questions and concerns regarding the adoption process. Special needs consultants can answer your questions about special education, support groups, effects on other family members and more. To schedule a consultation, call 800-342-9647.
Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Libraries
The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Libraries offer TumbleBooks for Beginning Readers, a digital library of animated, talking picture books to help kids learn to read, build vocabulary and have fun. These books and a huge variety of other titles and tools are available with unlimited access, all the time, from any device with an Internet connection. And when parents need a break, there are a ton of great magazines and books available for download as well!
The New Parent Support Program
The New Parent Support Program provides home visits to expectant parents and parents of young children. The home visitors are compassionate, nonjudgmental and full of great advice to help new parents develop the skills they need. The program provides support, guidance, information and other resources to help parents build strong, healthy bonds with their infants and toddlers, manage the demands of parenting when impacted by deployments and other military operations, remain flexible and responsive when managing the stressors of daily life, build a strong support network and respond to infant and toddler behavior in a way that corresponds to their developmental needs. For more information, contact your local military and family support center or Family Advocacy Program. You can find contact information for those programs through MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
There are a number of resources that deliver convenient and useful information to help you begin your parenting journey with confidence and know what lies ahead with your developing baby.
- Parent Review — TRICARE's Parent Review delivers a weekly eNewsletter customized to the due date or birthdate of your baby to your inbox. Each newsletter contains research findings about pregnancy, health and wellness, developmental milestones for your infant, parenting questions and answers and the latest parenting news. You can sign up as early as soon as you know you are pregnant and will continue to receive the newsletters until your child's first birthday at which time your subscription will automatically expire. You can share this newsletter by signing up dad, spouse, friends, family and support people (there is no limit in subscription numbers). Use your due date or the baby's birthdate for all, so everyone receives the same information.
- From Baby to Big Kid — ZERO TO THREE's From Baby to Big Kid eNewsletters offer science-based information on how children learn and grow each month from birth to 3 years of age. The monthly eNewsletters include age-based information about child development, in-depth articles on common child-rearing issues and challenges, parent-child play activities that promote bonding and learning, frequently asked questions, research on child development and what it means for parents.
- Just In Time Parenting — The age-paced Just In Time Parenting eNewsletters contain parenting tips, resources and information from prenatal care and for children through 5 years of age. These newsletters can be downloaded and printed. Subscribing to the newsletter also connects you with experts across the country, information about upcoming local programs, fact sheets and frequently asked questions.
- Text4baby — Text4baby is a free mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health. Pregnant women receive three text messages a week at no cost, timed by their due date or their baby's birth date, throughout their pregnancy and until their baby's first birthday. The messages address topics such as labor signs and symptoms, prenatal care, urgent alerts, developmental milestones, immunizations, nutrition, birth defect prevention, safe sleep, safety and more. At no cost, you can have information about your pregnancy or developing baby delivered to you conveniently each week. Resources deliver the latest relevant, research-based information all in a format that is easy to read and follow. Each week you'll learn a little more about your developing baby so you can confidently guide and support your little one. Sign up today!
There are several organizations that partner with the Department of Defense to help military families deal with parenting challenges related to military life.
- Sesame Workshop — Sesame Workshop provides support and practical education through a multiphase outreach initiative entitled "Talk, Listen, Connect" to help kids through deployments, combat-related injuries and the death of a loved one with videos, storybooks and workbooks.
- ZERO TO THREE — ZERO TO THREE is a national nonprofit that provides parents with the knowledge and know-how to nurture early development to ensure all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life. From DVDs and activity books for children to brochures and articles for parents, ZERO TO THREE has many resources designed with military families in mind.
- Sittercity — Funded by the Department of Defense, Sittercity memberships help military families connect to quality, local, in-home caregivers. Through online access, you can find babysitters and nannies for after-school care, school vacations, deployments, relocations, extended work hours or full-time child care.
- Focus on the Go! — Focus on the Go! is a family resilience gaming and resource application for iPhone and iPad from Project FOCUS designed to engage children and families in learning and practicing key resilience skills. Children of all ages can play a suite of games to help them better understand and communicate their feelings. Parents can also access a video library and downloadable activities to practice family resilience skills.
You can find links to other partner organizations and parenting resources on the Military OneSource Parenting page.
Being a parent comes with a long list of rewards and challenges. Make the most of these tools and resources to help you grow a safe, happy and healthy family.