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Learn While You Help Out

May 17, 1999|MARY McNAMARA

If you have time to read a parenting manual or even a parenting magazine, you probably aren't a parent.

But here's another way to keep up with those milestones: With the flick of a keyboard (http://www.excite.com) you can head to Excite Inc.'s new First Years Web site and, by entering your baby's due date or birth date, create your own loosely personalized development file.

And when you log on, you also donate, through Excite, $2 to the I Am Your Child Foundation, Rob Reiner's public awareness campaign on early childhood.

The site offers prenatal and early life (the first three years) development information, advice from docs and insights from other parents. There's a reference library, a product guide, chat rooms and (for the still-expecting) color illustrations for every week of fetal development.

The "personalized" page is chronological. While it doesn't provide the detailed answers to specific questions that can be found in some of the larger parenting tomes, the site does offer very reasonable, and elastic, observations on what you can expect, physically and cognitively, at any given stage.

Given many babies' natural curiosity with the computer (light, sound, movement and color), you might, with a little creative bending, be able to keep your little one on your lap while you do it. Think of it--education, child care and philanthropy all in one sitting. Remember when you could actually do just one thing at a time? Probably not.

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