Category Archives: Blog

Help Yourself Feel Better! The end of your pregnancy Read More >>

In pregnancy, sometimes we feel alone as if no one understands what we are going through. Here are some ideas that can help.

Your support system

  • Ask your partner or family member to come with you to at least one of your doctor visits
  • Bring your partner/ family member to ultrasound visits
  • Let your partner feel the baby move
  • Have your partner/ family member be your coach in labor
  • Share information and exercises with your partner and family members
  • Exchange back rubs, with attention to your lower back
  • Go for walks with friends, family, or your partner
  • Be sensitive to your partner’s feelings
  • Choose quiet times to express your feelings
  • Do things together to nurture your relationship

Diminishing stress

  • Relaxation breathing: take a slow deep breath counting to 4 as you breathe in. Your belly will expand like a balloon.
  • Exhale through your mouth with a sigh or say “ahh” as the air leaves. Let the stress leave your body.
  • Concentrate on letting your whole body relax
  • Practice relaxation breathing

Getting comfortable

  • Your growing belly may affect your sleeping positions
  • Try lying on your side (this also helps with blood flow to the baby)
  • Try placing a pillow between your legs while hugging a pillow for more support
  • Try a body pillow for extra support while you are lying down

If you’re pregnant and would like to attend classes to prepare for birth and parenting OR if you’d like a home visit to discuss your pregnancy, birth and baby, please call us at United Way of Santa Fe County. We’re here to help! 505-819-5483 All services are free.

The Emotions of Toddlers

Feelings add spark to life. They can be both satisfying and upsetting. Feelings try to tell us something, usually about what we need to feel content.

Your toddler will tell you what is going on by expressing strong feelings. She will shriek with joy or scream in anger. Your toddler has an uncontrollable desire to find out about herself and the world she lives in. She looks for protection and closeness from you, the most important person in her life. At the same time, she clearly tells you: “I am not you. I can do things all by myself.”

As a parent, you also have strong feelings: joy, frustration, rage and anger. Underneath these feelings you may be looking for information about parenting and support from others. You absolutely have to know your child is safe. You want to protect him and give him all your love.

You may find it difficult at times to remain calm when your two-year old is “throwing a fit”. You become embarrassed or remember difficult childhood scenes. You may be feeling the pain of harsh comments for not raising your child “the right way”. When you notice your own feelings and talk about your own needs, you become better at helping your toddler get through those “terrible moments”.

At United Way of Santa Fe County, we honor you, the proud parent of a toddler. We celebrate your strength in everyday situations. And, as a family, we respect all the feelings we can communicate in a healthy way.

Ten Ways to Help Your Baby’s Brain Develop Read More >>

  1. Teach your baby to trust you by responding to him when he cries. Crying means he’s trying to tell you something. Never ignore your crying baby. Pick him up and try to figure out what he needs. By trusting you, he learns to trust the world around him.
  2. Give your baby bright colorful objects to look at. Move objects slowly in front of your baby so he can follow with his eyes.
  3. Babies love simple black and white designs. You can buy soft, patterned cards to put in the baby’s crib. Or make your own patterns on 3” x 5” index cards and hold them for your baby to see.
  4. Provide gentle sounds for your baby. Turn on the classical music station or any quiet music. The music should be soft and soothing. In fact, loud noises may upset the baby.
  5. Hang interesting shapes from a play frame or crib gym. Change them often so your baby has something new to look at. Put a baby-safe mirror in the crib.
  6. Keep your baby near you. Babies thrive on loving attention. Encourage others in your household to stop often and talk with the baby. Smile when you talk to him.
  7. Talk to your baby. Don’t worry if he understands or not. Tell him what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, read to him and sing. The more words a baby hears each day will greatly improve his intelligence, school success, and social skills. Don’t substitute the radio or TV for your words. Language, eye contact, and connection is what helps your baby’s brain take shape.
  8. Looking at human faces is the most interesting activity for a newborn. Parents and relatives are his favorite faces. So, bend down to within 12” of your baby’s face. Let him study your face.
  9. A baby can get bored just lying around. Move the baby’s bassinet from room to room so he can have different views.
  10. Your baby loves to be carried. Babies like the rhythm of an adult’s movement. Being carried entertains him when he is awake. It gives your baby a perfect way to learn about the world around him. Your newborn needs lots of love and care. You can’t spoil him with love!

Investing in Early Childhood Gives One of the Best ROI Read More >>

Comprehensive quality care pays off.

While the costs of comprehensive early childhood education are high, the rate of return of programs like ABC/CARE implies that these costs are good investments. Every dollar spent on high-quality, birth-to-five programs for disadvantaged children delivers a 13% per annum return on investment. These economically significant returns account for the welfare costs of taxation to finance the program and survive a battery of sensitivity analyses. The cost of high quality early care was $18,514 in 2014 U.S. dollars. The average cost of childcare alone in the United States ranges from $9,589 to a high of $23,354 with few assurances of the quality necessary to generate quality life outcomes for children.

The gains are significant because quality programs pay for themselves many times over. The cost of inaction is a tragic loss of human and economic potential that we cannot afford.

Responding to Tantrums

When adorable infants start walking and having opinions about their environment, parents must develop a new set of skills. It can be exhausting, embarrassing and annoying when toddlers lose their temper over things that don’t seem important.

Developmentally, toddlers are learning to communicate and express emotions. As parents, you develop patience and model the type of communication you’d like your child to learn. Here are some tips to managing these emotional outbursts with your children.


  • What was happening right before the tantrum?
  • Are there patterns in the child’s tantrums?
  • Are there certain situations that trigger them?

Learn: What might be causing the child’s loss of control?

  • Frustration
  • Unable to do something
  • Not enough language to express his thoughts or feelings
  • Irritability due to hunger or fatigue


  • Stay calm
  • Stay close and keep your child safe
  • Validate your child’s feelings: “You are having a hard time. Everyone needs a break sometimes.”
  • Afterward tell him what a good job he did calming down.

You and your child will get through this stage! Remember to model for your child the behavior you’d like to see in him: kindness, patience, respect, and good communication.

What is a Good Parent?

We all want to be good parents! We want what’s best for our children. We want our children to grow up healthy, intelligent, respectful, and happy. But once we’re in the throes of day-to-day life as a parent, it’s not always easy to know what is the “right” way to respond to our children.

Parenting has to be learned. It takes a lot of trial and error. Stay open to learning and improving your parenting skills. Read, talk to other parents you trust, and stay involved with those who care for your children. Children learn by example. They learn by watching you. Set a good example: how you act often speaks louder than your words. Work on being patient every day. Listen with your full attention when your child is upset. Remember to teach your child, not punish them. They are ready to learn, and parents are their first teachers. Express as much love as you can! Use words and praise as well as hugs and affection.

Being a good parent means you:

  • Protect and guide your children
  • Provide them a safe and caring home
  • Meet each of their special needs
  • Provide rules and love
  • Show them lots of positive attention
  • Sometimes put aside your own needs to help your children
  • Accept the responsibility of parenting
  • Love your child, no matter what

If you need help with parenting, consider attending a United Way of Santa Fe County parenting class. We offer Positive Parenting Programs and help parents learn about what children need most and how to be a great parent. To see our schedule of classes, click on Calendar.

Eating Healthy for Pregnancy

Eating healthy foods can help you have a healthy baby. You only need about 300 extra calories per day for your growing baby. So, eat smart and make healthy food choices.

Examples of healthy foods

  • Whole grain bread
  • High fiber cereal
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Raw or cooked vegetables
  • Vegetable juice
  • Fresh or frozen fruit
  • Low fat or skim milk
  • Plain yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Lean meat, poultry, or fish
  • Eggs

Here are some tips to make healthy eating easier:

  • Make more than you need and freeze the extra for future meals. Also freeze unused vegetables and spices like onion, garlic, peppers, parsley, and greens.
  • Keep staple foods on hand at home. These are foods that you can use for almost any meal such as: beans, rice, pasta, frozen vegetables, pasta sauce, and peanut butter.
  • Eat 4-6 smaller meals a day instead of 3 big ones. For snacks, you can eat cheese, vegetables, fruit, and peanut butter.
  • Drink at least six 8-ounce glasses of water every day.

Eating healthy foods should give you all the nutrients you need during pregnancy. Taking prenatal vitamins along with eating healthy foods can help you get the nutrients you and your baby need during pregnancy.

85% of Brain Development Happens by 5 Years Old Read More >>

Brains are built and grow through touch, talk, sight and sound in early childhood experiences. This experiential learning starts long before a child steps foot into kindergarten and is strengthened through regular interaction and stimulation in the home and in quality early learning settings.

Our home visitors encourage parents to read, sing, talk, and interact with their babies. The First Born Program® has a set curriculum to teach parents the value of multiple positive interactions a day.

During the first five years, a child’s brain is at its most flexible, making this a critical period for learning and growth. Science tells us that children who face adversity in the first years of life, especially those in low-income households, are more at risk for experiencing damage to their brain architecture, which can lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health. Prevention through high-quality early learning and home visiting provide the support children need to build a foundation for a healthy and productive future. Waiting until kindergarten is too late—children who receive quality early education demonstrate greater cognitive and socio-emotional growth than children who do not.

Consider the following:

  • More than one million new neural connections are formed every second in the first few years of life. 
  • 90% of a child’s brain physical volume develops as early as five years old. 
  • The brain is most flexible and adaptable to learning during the earliest years of life. 
  • Children who face greater adversity, like living with abuse or neglect, are at far greater risk for delays in their cognitive, language, or emotional development. 
  • The brains of babies and young children require stable, caring, interactive relationships with adults for healthy brain development to take place. 

United Way of Santa Fe County has the sole mission of providing early childhood education opportunities to all children in Santa Fe County. Through home visiting and high-quality PreK, as well as other innovative program, we strive to give all children a great start in school and life.

The Importance of Tummy Time

Tummy time is playtime on baby’s stomach, when the baby is awake and being supervised.

Why is tummy time important? It helps baby:

  • Learn more movement
  • Increase self-confidence and independence
  • Learn to crawl, roll over, and walk
  • Develop basic milestones, including sitting up
  • Strengthen neck and stomach muscles

It also prevents babies from developing a flat head and provides a break from being on their backs.


  • An infant needs to be awake and on its tummy several times a day, at least 1-2 minutes at a time. Watch baby the whole time.
  • Schedule tummy time into baby’s day, like after each feeding, diaper change, or naptime.
  • However, always put the baby to sleep on his back to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Start tummy time in the first week home from the hospital. A good way to start is by placing baby on parent’s chest.

  • Lie on your back. Put baby’s face down on your chest and start talking. Baby will try to look up at your face.
  • Lie baby on tummy on a soft mat. Place age appropriate toys just out of reach.
  • Baby will learn to reach for the toys. Reaching forward and reaching to the side are both good exercises.
  • Stay down on the floor with your baby. Talk or sing while baby is playing.

Increase tummy time to several minutes, several times a day.