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From JBLM service member to Dr. Dad

Northwest Guardian

Published: 11:34AM July 18th, 2013
Dr. Dad the Well Child

Johanna Krause/Northwest Guardian

Venice del-Mundo Davis, New Parent Support home visitor, discusses child safety with Pfc. Matthew Burkett of 201st BfSB in ACS’s Dr. Dad workshop

No rank, no commission, no promotion compares to the privilege of making it to “Daddy.” No adventure seems as satisfying as cuddling your newborn and seeing her first smile. Yet for all the joys fatherhood brings, anxiety over caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. How to know what that incessant crying means, why she refuses to eat, why she is fussy?

The Dr. Dad workshop, offered by the Army Community Service’s New Parent Support Program, aims to increase self-assurance in new fathers by developing their parenting skills in the area of infant and toddler health, said Venice del Mundo-Davis, New Parent Support Program home visitor.

“We are also trying to help fathers realize they play a unique role in caring for their kids,” Davis said.

Researchers point to the importance of father involvement regarding child’s safety and future development. According to a study by the National Fatherhood Initiative, children have up to 30 percent higher chance of getting injured when dads are not involved.

Private First Class Matthew Burkett of 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, (3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment) wasn’t aware of the statistics when he decided to take the Dr. Dad class. Burkett was just concerned with understanding his 7-month-old daughter’s fussing and crying.

“When the baby cries, you run down the list wondering which one it is,” Burkett said.

Doctor Dad class is structured in two two-hour sessions. Session One covers infant well being and health issues, such as understanding why they might cry, proper nutrition and immunizations. Session Two deals with child safety and proper emergency response.

Classes provide an open and supportive environment where participants can ask questions, exchange stories, and share advice.

“There aren’t a lot of classes out there for new fathers to go to. Dr. Dad class offers practical and useful points in getting through the first few years of taking care of a child,” Davis said.

“We do hands on demonstrations of newborn care like changing the diaper, swaddling techniques to calm a baby, burping positions, giving medications, SIDS (prevention) and we want dads to know that they can take part in the care of their newborn and be supportive of their partner.”

Participants have a chance to test their knowledge through a self-assessment tool at the end of the class.

Completing the questionnaire, Burkett was not surprised to find out his answers were correct and that one of the most important things in becoming a new parent is being involved in the child’s life.

“I came to this class to make sure I do all the right things to raise my little girl and what I learned was like a confirmation that I already am,” Burkett said.