Expectant parent classes get whole family off to good start
Three-month-old Isabella Salazar is a very content baby, largely because her parents, Tiffany and Edgar, learned natural ways to calm her before she was even born.
Together, the Salazars enrolled in the Happiest Baby on the Block class offered by Via Christi Health as part of Kohl's Parents Academy - and Edgar enrolled in the academy's Boot Camp for New Dads®.
"There was a lot of good information offered in the classes," said Tiffany. "We were both familiar with babies, through younger siblings and relatives, but preparing for the birth of our own child was another matter!
"It's one thing to be able to hand over a baby to a relative, but it's another to actually handle and be responsible for one as a parent," said Edgar.
How to have the Happiest Baby on the Block™
Edgar already was a pro at folding tight corners, thanks to time spent folding flags in the honor guard at McConnell Air Force Base. But one of the best things he learned during the two-hour Happiest Baby on the Block™ class was how to properly swaddle his young daughter with the special-sized blanket the couple received as part of the class.
"That's my favorite blanket to use," said Edgar. "It helps to make sure she goes to bed all snuggled."
It also helps trigger a natural calming reflex Isabella used in the womb. The calming sounds CD they play at Isabella's bedtime - given to all class participants - helps her sleep. By two months, she was practically sleeping all night.
Class participants learn five steps to "turn on" their baby's natural self-calming reflexes. The snug swaddling, for example, recreates the comforting feeling of being in the womb. And by shushing loudly into their baby's ear, parents can mimic the vacuum cleaner-level decibels their baby was used to pre-birth.
The class is taught by a certified trainer in the Happiest Baby program developed by nationally renowned pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp. In addition to the swaddling blanket and the calming sounds CD, participants also receive an instructional DVD. Rookies join veterans during
Boot Camp for New Dads®
Edgar, an Air Force recruiter with the Kansas Air National Guard, had already been through one form of basic training. But before Isabella was born, he went through another: Boot Camp for New Dads®, a free class designed to help men prepare for first-time fatherhood.
When he returned home from the three-hour class, Tiffany asked him what he learned. That helped open a discussion between the couple about sharing responsibilities, respecting their parental roles and keeping open communications about raising their first child.
New dads find out about communications and more - including safety, diffusing stress, surviving a crying baby and even pet integration - during the class,now held once a month on a Saturday at the downtown YMCA. The class is part of a national program that started near the U.S. Marine base at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
"Veteran" dads share firsthand advice with expectant dads and bring their babies to enhance the new fathers' experience. Participants receive the book "Hit the Ground Crawling" by Greg Bishop and a T-shirt.
Edgar recently returned to the basic training class, this time as a veteran dad.
"It takes another new father to help new dads prepare for the responsibilities - and joys - of parenthood," said Edgar. "Veteran dads helped me through that process, and now I'm glad to do the same other new dads."
Sign up now for classes
The Happiest Baby on the Block™ class is recommended for expectant parents, but it also can be taken by parents of newborns up to 8 weeks old. The class meets at the downtown YMCA.
Boot Camp for New Dads® is held at the downtown YMCA.
Both classes meet monthly and are offered free of charge, thanks to a Kohl's Cares® grant