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Preparing for Baby: Parenting Classes

by Katlyn Joy | August 23, 2013 12:00 AM
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If you think the second the umbilical cord is snipped, you'll be endowed with all parental powers and knowledge, you will be disappointed. Becoming a parent is not a job for are equipped for automatically. However, everything is learned easily enough.

If you have limited baby experience and feel nervous, there's no need to feel embarrassed about taking a parenting class to feel more confident and prepared. Most hospitals or medical practices offer classes on a regular basis and many are at no cost to you.

First, if you haven't taken a childbirth class at your hospital as of yet, give them a call. Find out whether new baby care will be included in the curriculum. If not, then look into separate new parenting classes.

If you are already a parent, then you may want to attend a class again if it's been awhile since you've added a new bundle of joy to the family or perhaps it's your partner's first child. Also, consider sibling classes for the new big brother or sister to help them prepare and build their excitement about the new baby in the house.

Basics of a Parenting Class

Any parenting class should cover some essential elements in order to adequately prepare you for your new responsibilities as a mother and father.

Feeding.
This will cover how much and when to feed your baby, how to tell when baby is hungry, how to burp baby, what types of bottles to use and how to sterilize and clean them, types of formula, breastfeeding basics and how to pump and store milk, and problems parents routinely encounter with feeding babies such as allergies, spitting up, how to tell if baby is getting enough, or too much, to eat and general schedules of feeding for babies through the first year.

Diapering.
If you've never had a little sibling, niece or nephew and you've never babysat, this might seem along the lines of diffusing a bomb. Relax, this will seem fairly straightforward and simple, if a little stinky. You will learn the options between disposables and cloth diapers, how to change a wet or dirty diaper, how to clean baby's bottom after changes, how often to change and how to dispose of or launder diapers. You'll learn what baby items are essential for diapering, (a pail for cloth) or unnecessary such as powder for the tushy (talc can get into baby's lungs and should be avoided.)

Sleep issues.
This is a big topic, for all parents. You'll learn what is normal for each age and stage of development, common schedules, how to put baby down to sleep, sleep dangers such as fluffy blankets or stuffed animals, what SIDS is and the best way to prevent it, the different philosophies about baby sleep such as the cry it out or Ferber method, the attachment parent theory of co-sleeping and variations in between.

Development.
Should my baby be holding his head up steady by now? When will she sit alone? Should his teeth be coming through yet? Development questions are myriad and it will be impossible to cover most in just one class, but most classes attempt to cover some of the biggies to help you understand what your baby is able to do and understand at different ages. This will help you first of all not to worry for no reason and also to help you assist baby in her developmental tasks.

Safety.
This should make up a big chunk of the parenting class. You'll cover a variety of safety issues such as how to properly install and use an infant car seat and when baby is ready to graduate to the next sized seat, how to give baby a bath and keep him safe at the same time, what to do if baby chokes, how to deliver infant CPR, how to prevent common household injuries such as falls or burns or drowing, and basic infant first aid. You'll learn what items you should have at home and on the road to care for emergencies as well.

Parenting classes held at a hospital will generally give a tour of the facilities and cover what will happen after baby is born. You may get a little information on what will happen if baby needs some special care or attention after birth in the NICU or neonatal intensive care unit.

Some special classes are held at hospitals with NICUs in order to help parents understand what typically goes on when baby is in the unit and how parents can participate in baby's care. These classes also offer a type of support which can be so important for parents during this stressful time.

Some hospitals offer other classes such as grandparent classes. These can be helpful if grandparents will be helping take care of baby after mom returns to work, or if the grandparents haven't taken care of a baby in quite some time and have some rather outdated and possibly dangerous baby practices, such as putting baby to sleep on stomach or giving whole milk before one year of age.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office on Women's Health


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