Prenatal "bootcamps" are helping men prepare for fatherhood


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These courses for expectant fathers are popping up at health clinics, hospitals, and community centers across the United States.

Often taught by experienced fathers, the camps help new dads transition into parenthood by teaching them childrearing skills, strategies for supporting their partners, and answering their questions and concerns.

Why have a class just for dads? Many men feel sidelined in regular prenatal classes, which tend to focus more on mothers, Dr. Craig Garfield at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine told NPR. Yet men often have just as many questions and worries about becoming parents as women do, he explained.

Topics at prenatal bootcamps often include:

  • How to hold and soothe a crying baby
  • How to change diapers
  • How to swaddle a baby
  • How to cope with sleep deprivation
  • Bonding with your baby
  • Supporting your partner
  • What to expect emotionally after the baby is born
  • Balancing work and parenting
  • Keeping babies safe

Encouraging dads to become confident and involved fathers is good for the whole family, NPR reports. Studies show that when dads care for and engage with their babies, it stimulates children's brain development, enhances psychological resilience, and creates a strong father-child bond.

Self-assured dads also help put moms' fears at ease, making them less likely to face criticism and micromanaging as a result, researcher Anna Olsavsky told NPR. That helps men more equitably care for their children, and it strengthens their relationship with their partners, she said. And, of course, happy parents are good for babies too.

You can find out more about prenatal classes for dads on the Bootcamp for New Dads website. Your local hospital or clinic might also have a bootcamp-type class for dads.

Other helpful resources for expectant dads include BabyCenter's childbirth cheat sheet for dads-to-be, our tour for new dads, seven fears expectant dads face, and the five myths of fatherhood.

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