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Daddy Bootcamp program is enlisting fathers to change infant mortality in the county

Posted at 5:55 AM, Feb 02, 2017

Ohio spends millions of dollars each year trying to keep our babies alive. But the number of infants who don't live to their first birthday keeps growing.

News 5 found one class that is enlisting fathers to turn the trend around.

Randy Kimbro, Master Coach for Bootcamp for New Dads at Southwest Hospital explains it's a boys club — no girls allowed.

"These are for dads of any type, but usually ones who have never been around babies, never touched a baby, never changed a diaper.”

From coping with the first cry, to changing a diaper, to safe sleeping, these dads are learning everything 'baby' in Daddy Bootcamp.

“We focus a lot on safety, we also focused quite a bit on the relationship with mom,” said Kimbro.

New dad in the program, Mark Williams, remembers just how nervous he was when his wife told him she was pregnant.

“It was every emotion you could possibly think of, all at once,” he said.

Now with his 11-week-old son Jameson Carter in his arms, he says hearing stories from other dads has given him confidence.

“You can only learn so much on your own,…makes you a better dad, a better husband, and really helps you all around," Williams said.

Program leaders say that's the whole idea.

“With this program you see a lot of bonding happen real quickly…they leave this class, I usually have to kick them out, they are so excited about talking to other dads about getting to hold babies for the first time, they go home with huge brownie points.”

Sondra Martin, Family Life Coordinator at Southwest Hospital, where one of these programs runs, said the goal of this class is to preserve the life of every single baby.

“In our county and our state, we're about the third worst in the country for infant deaths and infant mortality… so it doesn't take much for a little baby and dads learn that.”

African American babies face an even higher risk, as they are 3 times more likely to die before reaching their first birthday.

This program aims to help those numbers drop as well.

“When we're talking about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, those babies are usually most in the first three months,” Martin said.

Currently, there are Daddy Bootcamp programs at every birthing hospital here in Cuyahoga County. Other cities like Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton are catching on and going through training right now to implement the program in their hospitals.