Cooperative Extension University of Wisconsin-Extension

Statement of Ongoing Review and Validation (click here).

Why you can trust our advice.

* We are professors and staff of a great public university (the University of Wisconsin). We teach college courses on child development, parenting, and human nutrition.

* Our knowledge is based on research findings, which tell us what usually works for most parents. Our advice is not based on any philosophy about how the world ought to work. We just tell you what works most of the time, according to research on families like yours.

* We aren’t trying to sell you anything, and our web site makes no money for us. We are public employees.

Research studies show that these newsletters really help parents.

* Parents rate the newsletters highly useful for childrearing advice more often than any other source of information, including physicians, nurses, relatives, and other printed materials. (1)

* The newsletters are shared and discussed within the parents’ social networks, averaging two readers per newsletter. Over two-thirds of fathers read them. (2)

* In studies in California, Delaware, and Wisconsin, those who reported changes in their behaviors and attitudes most, as a result of reading the newsletters, were the youngest, poorest and least educated. (1)

* The above findings on usefulness, sharing of the newsletter, and self-reported behavior change have been replicated in an interview study with Spanish-speaking mothers in Oregon, whose educational levels averaged 8th grade. (3)

* Parents receiving the newsletters for a year, compared to comparison group parents who did not, had beliefs about children significantly less like those of child abusing parents. They also reported spanking or slapping their babies significantly fewer times in the previous week. (4)

* Parents receiving the newsletters for a year, compared to control group parents who did not, provided a significantly more intellectually stimulating home environment for their infants and toddlers. (4)

* The newsletter has been successfully adapted for parents in England, and tested with a randomized clinical trial. Parents reported changing their behaviors in positive ways, especially with regard to providing more stimulating experiences for their baby. (5) Mothers who received the newsletters for one year, as compared to those who did not, significantly reduced both the frequency and intensity of reported “daily hassles,” and had more appropriate expectations of their infant’s behavior. (6)

* A study of the continuation series of age-paced newsletters, Parenting the 2nd & 3rd Years, has also produced evidence of effectiveness, particularly for first-time parents. (7)

References to evaluation studies

1. Cudaback, D., Darden, C., Nelson, P., O'Brien, S., Pinsky, D., & Wiggins, E. (1985). Becoming successful parents: Can age-paced newsletters help? Family Relations, 34, 271-275.

Dickinson, N. & Cudaback, D. (1992). Parent education for adolescent mothers. Journal of Primary Prevention, 13, 23-35.

Nelson, P. T. (1986). Newsletters: An effective delivery mode for providing educational information and emotional support to single parent families? Family Relations, 35, 183-188.

Riley, D., Meinhardt, G., Nelson, C., Salisbury, M., & Winnet, T. (1991). How effective are age-paced newsletters for new parents? A replication and extension of earlier studies. Family Relations, 40, 247-253.

Walker, S.K. (2005). Use of a parenting newsletter series and other child-rearing information sources by mothers of infants. Family & Consumer Sciences Journal, 34, 153-172.


2. Riley, D., & Waterston, T. (2002). Helping teenage mothers with child rearing advice: Report on an intervention. Paper presented to Parent-Child 2002 International Conference, London, April 19, 2002.

Waterston, T. & Welsh, B. (2006). Helping fathers understand their new infant: A pilot study of a parenting newsletter. Community Practitioner, 79(9), 293-295.

Walker, S. W., & Riley, D. (2001). Involvement of the personal social network as a factor in parent education effectiveness. Family Relations, 50, 186-193.


3. Weatherspoon, M.S., Bowman, S., Hernandez, & Pratt (2006). Using age-paced parenting newsletters as teaching tools in home visitation programs with at-risk Mexican immigrant families. The Forum for Family & Consumer Issues, 11(1), 1-7. (


4. Riley, D. (1997). Using local research to change 100 communities for children and families. American Psychologist, 52, 424-433.


5. King, A. (2006). Age-paced parenting newsletters: Delivering healthy messages. Community Practitioner, 79(3), 89-92.


6. Waterston, T., Welsch, B., McConachie, H., Cook, M., Hammal, D., Parker, L., & Keane, B. (2009). Improving early relationships: A randomized controlled trial of an age-paced parenting newsletter. Pediatrics, 123, 241-247.


7. Ostergren, C., & Riley, D. (In press). Testing age-paced parenting newsletters up to age 3: Greater impact on first-time parents.