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Daddy Boot Camp Is for Soldiers in the Battle of Parenthood

Scott Olson, Getty Images / eyeliam, Flickr

Okay, new fathers, pop quiz: it’s 2 a.m. and your infant hasn’t stopped crying for an hour. What do you do?

If you don’t know, maybe it’s time to enroll in baby boot camp.

Boot Camp for New Dads is a program that has attracted some 300,000 expectant fathers in 45 states as well as in Britain, Canada, Italy and Japan. It started in 1990 near a California Marine base and has been growing ever since, with male-lead sessions held everywhere from affluent communities to low-income neighborhoods — and even a prison in Ohio.

In fact, Greg Bishop, founder of Boot Camp for New Dads, says the training is even more important in lower income neighborhoods. “The role models have more impact there,” he said.

The three-hour indoctrinations teach men a slew of “troubleshooting and diagnostics,” including how to feed, swaddle and soothe a crying baby, change a dirty diaper, and even how to deal with new moms.

Stephen Goodnough, a boot camp attendee whose daughter is due in less than a month, said he signed up because he had no experience in child care and was nervous about tending to his newborn.

“It’s not like they’re power tools,” he said. “They don’t come with instruction manuals. It’s a kid, a human life. … You leave the hospital, and that’s it.”


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