News: New dads learn valuable parenting skills
Story by Spc. Nathan Thome
FORT CARSON, Colo. – New or expecting dads may have questions about how to care for the newest member of their family, such as how to feed, burp, calm down and even develop a bond with their child.
To train dads on the basics of childcare, Army Community Service held its first Boot Camp for New Dads Train-the-Trainer program Oct. 1. The training focused on Soldiers expecting a child, those who recently had children, and veteran fathers. These soldiers, in turn, will use their training to help others meet the challenges of parenthood.
“The Train-the-Trainer program is brand new to Fort Carson, and this class is its first facilitator course ever,” said Steve Frost, victim advocate coordinator, ACS.
The division headquarters Family violence working group developed Train-the-Trainer to teach parenting skills, and to reduce child abuse at Fort Carson, said Frost.
The course, comprised of three sessions, began with an introduction. Instructors explained what fathers should expect, how to prepare and the fears most fathers get the closer to their child’s birth.
“As time goes on, most new dads start to tell themselves, ‘I’m not ready to be a dad,’ ‘I can’t take care of a child,’ ‘I don’t know what to do, what if I mess up,’” said Ken Robinson, Family Advocacy Program coordinator, ACS.
This class will help prepare them so those thoughts don’t linger and they can focus on being great fathers, said Robinson.
Soldiers also learned about crying, changing diapers, calming babies down and developing father-child bonds.
“The best way to bond with your child is by changing, bathing and feeding them,” said Robinson. “It lets the baby know that you are there to care for them, and that they are safe.”
During class instruction, facilitators chose soldiers at random to change the diaper of a simulated baby. Sergeant Kyle Norris, human intelligence collector, Company B, 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, changed his very first diaper using the baby.
“I tried to soak up as much knowledge as possible from this class, so I could spread it to my unit and even teach my wife,” said Norris. “These are skills that I can definitely apply as a new father.”
Facilitators taught Soldiers the five S’s, different ways to trigger a baby’s calming reflex. This involved swaddling, the side or stomach position, shushing, swinging and jiggling, and sucking.
“I learned a lot from the five S’s; I used to do the shushing, but this class taught me that it’s supposed to be as loud as the crying, so it acts as white noise and calms the baby,” said Pfc. Charles Jones, chemical operations specialist, Company C, 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th BCT.
Jones said he also learned that he can combine the methods, like swinging and swaddling or jiggling and shushing.
After a few demonstrations of the five S’s, facilitators chose 1st Lt. Dustin Young, executive officer, Forward Support Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion, to swaddle the simulated baby.
“It was definitely harder than it looked,” said Young. “Trying to get the blanket wrapped around correctly and making sure it’s snug takes practice.”
Near the end of their course, the class focused on caring for the mother-to-be. Soldiers learned tips on how to care for their wives and relieve their stress.
The wife is just as important as the baby, so soldiers need to help out with caring for the child, said Robinson. If the mother is feeling overwhelmed, then the baby won’t get the proper care it needs.
After completing the third session, all 35 soldiers became certified Boot Camp for New Dads instructors. During their last hour in class, facilitators assisted the Soldiers with putting together a class of their own, to teach at their units.
“When I get back to my unit, I’m going to coordinate with my first sergeant to identify the new and expecting dads in my battalion,” said Norris. “I want to set aside an afternoon to teach them everything I learned from this class so they will have the knowledge to be great fathers.”