Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Daddy Boot Camp empowers men to be fathers

Aug 21, 2017
Photo by: Grace King Ryan Duffie burps his baby boy during the Boot Camp for New Dad’s on Aug. 19. The boot camp taught fathers more than just how to change a diaper and warm a bottle, dads discussed postpartum depression and overall baby health.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Ryan Duffie knelt on the floor over his baby boy as dads-to-be stood around watching him teach them how to change a diaper. The stripe on the diaper had turned from white to blue, signaling that it was time for a fresh one.

The dads chuckled nervously as they subconsciously leaned away from the diaper changing on display in front of them. The baby giggled as his dad fastened the diaper closed and picked him up to hold him in his arms.

This is Daddy Boot Camp in the Education Center of the Henry County Health Center (HCHC). Organized by Duffie and Jeremy Klopfenstein, the coaches don’t claim to be experts, just passionate about encouraging dads to be more confident in the care of their little one.

Saturday morning, Aug. 19, was split into three conversational sessions carefully arranged so as to not feel like a lecture. The first conversation is about communicating with significant others in baby care and how to handle the pressure of in-laws. The second is a meet and interact with “stunt babies.” And the third is a time to talk about the more serious emotional aspects of having a newborn, such as navigating baby blues and postpartum depression.

For dads, this is a safe space, with “no moms to tell us it’s wrong,” Klopfenstein said.

“I’m not qualified,” Klopfenstein laughed as he talked about why he chose to start this class. With his first child, he was in town with the baby and a “little old lady” approached him asking, “Where’s that baby’s mother.”

“She wasn’t trying to be rude, but she was rude,” Klopfenstein said. Because of that experience of feeling inadequate in caring for his own child, Klopfenstein seeks to “help dads be more empowered.” “There’s a lot of classes for moms out there, but there’s none for dads,” he said.

During the hands-on portion of the morning, Duffie stood on one side of the room with three dads and dads-to-be discussing the contents of his diaper bag. Diaz, who is expecting his first child, was bottle feeding Duffie’s son and rocking back and forth on his heels as he listened.

“You’ve definitely got a good, steady sway,” veteran dad Bryce Miller said, complimenting Diaz.

The conversation turned to the men’s own children. Jaden Ferguson said he couldn’t wait to be a second-time father and hold a tiny baby on his chest while he watches football. Miller said that he wasn’t much of a fan of babies until his first child, and then he was hooked.

“My favorite thing when my son was born was the little noises,” Miller said. “It makes me soft in my heart real quick.”

Although these men have experience in raising a baby, they said they can always learn more and refresh their knowledge.

In another corner of the room, Klopfenstein sat with a few men holding a more serious conversation about healthy baby weight, doctors’ visits, breast feeding, lactation consultants and midwives.

This class is for all men who are welcoming a new baby into the family, whether it’s a veteran dad or a grandfather who has been out of the baby game for a few years. The next Daddy Boot Camp will be held mid-November.

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