Monday, December 10, 2012

Boot Camp for New Dads

As some of you may know, my wife and I are expecting our first child come this January. We are very excited and also very nervous, or at least I am. We have been attending some pre-baby classes together that our hospital provided. Men, be sure to attend these classes with your wife and pay attention! No matter how good you are at changing oil or playing sports; this is a whole new ballgame. Get my drift?

Yesterday was my first "new dad" class. When we went to the hospital for the very first time months ago, there was a sign near the elevators with a pair of boots on it. I walked up to it and it read "Boot Camp for New Dads". I knew right away that this was a class I was going to need to attend. The program is sponsored by "First Things First Richmond"; a faith-influenced organization in the Richmond, VA area. 

The meat of the program comes from a national organization called "Dads Adventure" and they sponsor "Boot Camp for New Dads". It is the nation's largest program for fathers, operating in 260 communities across 43 states, the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, and expanding internationally. Click on some of the links to see what is available in your area or to start your own class!

I really had no idea what to expect going into this class. I wasn't sure if I'd be changing diapers or watching some videos of births, but I felt it was essential that I had to go. There were about 20-25 other "rookies" in the group and there were 3 veterans with babies onsite. At first I thought these men had just scheduled to come to the class a little too late, but I was wrong. The class was from 9am-12pm and each hour was very well rounded. We went around the room and introduced ourselves and it took off from there. 

  • The first hour consisted of questions and topics led by the facilitator. He would ask the questions and the veterans would give their input on the topic and talk about their personal experiences. It was great to hear each one of them give their own opinions. They all had a slightly different take on how to do it, but they all worked. 

  • The second hour consisted of one-on-one time with each veteran. We broke into 3 groups and had free reign to ask any questions. From what were absolute essential items; to what was their schedule like; to how they assisted their wife with the baby. This was great information. 

  • The final hour consisted of what I'll call "straight talk" from another facilitator. He talked about the mother having the "baby blues" or depression and how to handle that. He talked a lot about crying babies and how we need to be very patient with them. And under NO circumstance are we to shake the baby! He mentioned safety tips; introducing the pets to the new family member; and baby CPR. Let's hear some of your best tips veteran dads. What worked for you?

Overall I was very impressed with the class. It was very professional and very well organized. They are able to pack a solid punch of information in a short amount of time. The veterans are the stars as they are hammered with question after question and handle it very well. I learned much more then I anticipated and walked away from the class feeling much more confident in my "new" daddy skills. As a point of mention, I want to say what my TOP THREE main things were as I walked away from the class. 

NUMBER ONE was communication. Communicate with the mother to be about as much as possible now and keep it up after the baby is born. It is absolutely essential!
NUMBER TWO was pre-planning. Pre-Plan now! Pre-plan before you head to the delivery room; before you allow visitors over; before you have family visit and more. This goes back to number one. 
NUMBER THREE was protection. You are the Protector and your wife is going to need you to step up! Whether it is helping her around the house; watching the baby and mother closely as others handle him; or making sure they are both safe and secure. It us your job to make sure this gets done! 

I look forward to going back as a veteran someday! Be sure to check out the website links above and support an awesome program!

So let's hear it veteran mothers and fathers. What is your best piece of advice you can offer rookie parents?


  1. First, I know you meant "And under *no* circumstance are we to shake the baby!"

    Second, I am a father of 2, and we just learned we are expecting a 3rd in late summer. I *love* being a father. I'm stoked to hear about Dad's Adventure, I will absolutely be looking into getting involved with that - thanks for the heads up!

    Finally, the best piece of advice I can give? In keeping with your point about pre-planning, I would say to know and monitor your wife's limits, boundaries, and emotional and physical levels, especially when the child is first born. And then be ruthless with friends and family when your wife needs a break. Enlist the nursing staff at the hospital if necessary (who are always willing to be the bad guy). Nothing can ruin the magic of a new child more quickly or completely than your wife being overwhelmed.

    Second to that, bring a swimsuit in your bag for the hospital - if you have to help your wife shower (i.e. after a C section), and something goes wrong, the nursing staff is used to seeing naked women, but men... ;)

    1. Chris. Thanks for the comment. I went straight ahead and added the "no" to the statement. Congrats on having another child! Thanks for the tips. The part about being ruthless is similar to what I learned in the new dad class. Someone has to protect the new mother, and that is ME!
      I'll throw the bathing suit in the bag in case. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. This is a great program. We here at ClearSight Ultrasound recommend it to every new dad that comes in our offices

    1. That is awesome to hear! Keep it up! More men need to hear and learn from this class and all of the other avenues provided. Thank you for reading and sharing!

  3. When I lived in Colorado I was a facilitator for the Boot Camp. It was a great experience. I remember one 18 year old that came to the class with his dad. He was terrified of becoming a dad. But by the end of the class, the veterans had him changing diapers, burping, and he had mastered the 'football hold'. He left the class with confidence and a feeling of "I can do this".
    My advice to the rookies was that as a dad, you will do things different than mom would. Don't let anyone tell you you're doing it wrong. You're doing it different, but different is not wrong.