Lawmaker wants bill that requires first-time parents to take a class

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A state lawmaker wants to create a law that would make it mandatory for first time parents to take a class before they take home a newborn.

Representative Regina Barrow, who is a board member for the Family Preservation Study Group, said she has noticed that a lot of parents do not know how to properly care for infants.

Most moms and dads-to-be can hardly wait to take their newborns home from the hospital. But with the excitement comes a huge responsibility. Woman's Hospital Perinatal Education Coordinator, Angela Hammett, teaches child caregivers everything from how to swaddle a baby to knowing when it is time to take a crying newborn to the doctor.

"The evidence that we have, even of just how to position your baby for sleep, has changed in the last 13 to 15 years," Hammett said.

Recent studies show newborns should sleep on their backs. While mom's are given a special set of care instructions before they leave the hospital, Hammett said taking a course like After Baby Comes (ABC) helps parents get a better understanding of the basics.

"We practice how to hold the baby, how to burp the baby, how to bath the baby. You're practicing with a doll. It's more than being in a class being lectured to," Hammett explained.

However, Hammett said, only 30% of parents take her class.

Representative Barrow compared it to training for a career certification.

"Being a parent is a very important job. You're talking about actually shaping and molding a life of a living being for the rest of their lives," Barrow said.

Barrow said her plan is only in its beginning stages. She is still considering criteria such as the new mother's age and potential penalties.

Regardless, Hammett believes any everyone who cares for an infant should take a course.

"When they come to class they get that. They get the information that they need, and then they're able to share it with other caregivers, other people in the community," Hammett said.

Barrow said she will discuss the idea with the Family Preservation Study Group, which meets at the State Capitol at 12 p.m. on Wednesday.

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