Families of newborns to receive parenting kit

By Sarah Yang, Public Affairs


father daughter

Berkeley parent Hal Aronson recalled first-aid information in a new parenting video to save his infant daughter, Rachel.
Peg Skorpinski photo

07 November 2001 | Berkeley resident Hal Aronson was enjoying a mid-October family outing in Yosemite National Park when he noticed that his six-month-old daughter, Rachel, was choking and had stopped breathing.

Instead of panicking, Aronson remembered first aid techniques taught in a video he received when Rachel was born. “I lowered her head down below her body, and I gave her a whack on her back between the shoulder blades,” he said.

To Aronson’s relief, a chunk of bread flew out of his baby’s mouth. “She started breathing again,” he said. “It just happened so quickly; it scared me.”

The life-saving video that Aronson recalled is part of an innovative Kit for New Parents, developed by Berkeley researchers and the California Children and Families Commission and announced last week as part of an ambitious parenting education campaign.

The kit will be distributed free through prenatal programs, hospital maternity wards, postpartum home visits and other programs to all parents of the estimated 500,000 babies born in California each year. It is available in English and Spanish and is part of a larger $25 million parent education campaign funded by the 1998 state tobacco tax.

The comprehensive resource kit includes six videos produced by film director Rob Reiner, chair of the California Children and Families Commission, and a Parents Guide produced by the campus’s Center for Community Wellness.

“We believe this kit goes a long way in helping parents provide a nurturing environment for their children by putting high-quality, practical resources together in an engaging format,” said Linda Neuhauser, a faculty member at the School of Public Health and executive director of the Center for Community Wellness.

In the videos, parents hear from child development experts such as T. Berry Brazelton and from celebrities such as Andy Garcia and Jamie Lee Curtis. The videos emphasize the importance of a child’s early emotional and cognitive development while addressing such issues as safety, childcare and nutrition.

Aronson, the Berkeley father, was one of 1,500 Californians who received a kit as part of a pilot project launched last year. He said he had practiced the life-saving motions with his daughter while watching the video.“When I saw the video on first aid, I knew this (choking) could really happen,” said Aronson. “Babies stick stuff in their mouths all the time, so I knew it was good to pay attention. It’s also easy to follow.”

Resource guide for parents
The kit points parents and caregivers to local and state resources through the Parents Guide published by Berkeley. The guide includes information about children’s health insurance, coping with disabilities, stress management and domestic abuse.

“Parents don’t always know which resources are available to them and where to go to find help. Here we link the guides into the phone book and provide Internet addresses so readers know exactly where to go for information,” said Neuhauser, whose work is part of Berkeley’s Health Sciences Initiative, a collaboration among researchers throughout the campus addressing some of today’s major health issues.

Program may go national
News of the kit’s early success has reached beyond California. Shortly before becoming the director for Homeland Security, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge approved a plan to distribute a similar kit with the Reiner-produced videos and a guide to all new parents in the state. The Center for Community Wellness is tailoring the Pennsylvania version of the Parents Guide for release in December.

Four other states have also expressed strong interest in launching a similar parent education initiative, said Neuhauser. “The hope is that this campaign will grow into a national program to provide all parents in the United States with the resources they need to raise healthy, happy children,” she said.

Information about the Kit for New Parents can be found at Parents can receive a free kit by calling toll-free at 800-KIDS-025.


Home | Search | Archive | About | Contact | More News

Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.

Comments? E-mail