Boot Camp for new parents
Kohl’s Parents Academy classes help first-time parents Jennifer and Matt Warner care for daughter Payton like seasoned veterans.
Matt Warner is an environmental scientist and his wife, Jennifer, is a medical technologist, both highly technical jobs for which they have years of education and training.
But last fall as the birth of their first child grew near, Matt and Jennifer began to panic. Neither had spent much time around babies, they were the first in their circle of friends to be expecting and they had no family living in Kansas.
“You get to within a couple of weeks of the due date and the reality sets in,” says Matt. “What’s been a concept is about to be a baby.”
And while they’d taken childbirth preparation and breastfeeding classes, they still felt they lacked hands-on experience.
So Matt and Jennifer jumped at the chance to enroll in the Kohl’s Parents Academy classes Via Christi offers at no cost to new and expectant parents to help them develop their skills and confidence.
In August, they attended the Happiest Baby on the Block™ class, a two-hour course that teaches a five-step method for calming a crying baby.
"The class was great," says Jennifer, as were the special DVD, soothing sounds CD and over-sized swaddling blanket that came with it.
Soon after, Matt participated in the Boot Camp for New Dads®, a three-hour Saturday class that pairs expectant fathers with veteran dads and their babies.
While the training was helpful, it was the informal dad-to-dad sharing of experience that he found most valuable. It was through this sharing that he learned that “everyone gets frustrated and when you do, not to be afraid to set your baby down, walk away for a few minutes to collect yourself and then try again.”
Two weeks later, Payton Marie Warner was born at Via Christi Hospital on Harry. On Sept. 9, Matt and Jennifer brought their day-old daughter home, still nervous but feeling much more confident in their abilities to provide the care she needed.
“Payton’s really a very good baby and I think a lot of it is because of us,” says Jennifer, who keeps a list of the steps taped to the door to her daughter’s room as a reminder. “With the help of the classes we took, we stay calm and so does she.”
In November, Matt attended the Boot Camp for New Dads again — this time as a veteran dad.
“At first, I wasn’t sure I was qualified,” he says. “But when Payton and I got there and the questions started rolling, I felt like I really did have something to offer.”
Go to viachristi.org/kohls to sign up or learn more about Kohl’s Parents Academy classes.
What is Kohl’s Parents Academy?
Kohl’s Parents Academy classes and materials are available at no cost to participants thanks to a grant from Kohl’s Cares®. The classes, held at the new Downtown Wichita YMCA and the Farha Sport Center at the South Wichita YMCA, include:
Kohl’s Cares presents Happiest Baby on the Block™, a monthly two-hour program that teaches parents the five steps needed to trigger a baby’s self-calming reflexes.
Kohl’s Cares presents Boot Camp for New Dads®, a monthly three-hour program that pairs expectant fathers with veteran dads and their newborns for hands-on training.
Kohl’s Cares presents Family Focus on Teens, a three-part series of classes focusing on communicating with preteens and teens, offered in March and April.