Family advocacy offers class on fatherhood basics Published April 24, 2009 By Wayne Crenshaw 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- New and soon-to-be dads at Robins can get some expert advice next week on exactly what to expect when it comes to dealing with an addition to the family. On April 29 the Family Advocacy Office at the Mental Health Clinic will offer a free class called "Dads: The Basics." Staff Sgt. Travis McCord and Maj. Steve Nolan, who between them have seven children, will teach the class. Sergeant McCord said the class is held four times per year and has been well received by participants in the past. "We've had an awesome response with what they have heard," he said. "They have been very receptive to the conversation. A lot of them enjoy the fact that it's just men and they feel like they can open up." The class begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 1 p.m. It is held at the Mental Health Clinic, which is in the base hospital. Sergeant McCord said many topics are discussed, including basic child-care skills such as changing diapers and bathing an infant. Two of the biggest topics are Shaken Baby Syndrome and coping with deployment after a child is born. He said shaking a baby can cause serious brain injury, and fathers need to be aware of their physical strength when handling a baby. They also need to avoid picking up a crying child if the father is frustrated and possibly prone to shaking a baby without thinking about the consequences. Deployment is also a big topic, Sergeant McCord said. They will discuss the importance of a father bonding with a newborn infant. Fathers who are deploying should consider making videos or audio tapes of themselves reading books for the child, or leaving behind clothing with the father's scent that the child can hold. Sergeant McCord said the class is open to military and civilians who have Department of Defense identification. He also said the class is not just for new dads. Participants in the past have already had children and have learned new skills from the class.