Aim To determine the parenting information and support needs of parents of young children in an urban center in Canada.
Methods A self-administered survey was mailed to a stratified random sample of 1064 parents of children aged 6 years and under. The survey asked about parents’ preferred sources of support, information needs, sources and modes of information delivery and perceived barriers to accessing parenting support services.
Results A 33.7% response rate was obtained (n=359 surveys). Breastfeeding, car seat safety, caring for a new baby, supporting their child’s development and sleep issues were considered ‘somewhat’ and ‘very’ important by more than 95.8% of respondents. Informal sources of support were rated as more important and more valuable than formal supports. The internet, drop-in programs for parents and children, books, organized playgroups, and classes/information sessions, were identified as the most preferred ways to access parenting information. Parents reported a lack of knowledge and awareness of programs, lack of time, lack of child care, and offered at inconvenient times, as the top barriers to attending parenting services and supports.
Conclusions In general, parents want information on early childhood development and parenting. This assessment contributes to the limited information on the unique needs of parents with children 0–6 years in Canada. The results have important implications for the planning, delivery and dissemination of future parenting education resources, programs and services, namely creating opportunities for social networking and exploring on-line methods for information delivery.