Pa­los hos­pi­tal of­fers classes to help fam­ily prep for new baby

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - NEWS - By Jan­ice Neu­mann Jan­ice Neu­mann is a free­lance re­porter for the Daily South­town.

Michael Kib­bon, 3, knew his baby sis­ter would give him a fin­ger-hug even be­fore she was born in Oc­to­ber be­cause he learned that tid­bit at a class for sib­lings.

“He would al­ways say, ‘Baby go­ing to give me a hug like this’ and would hold his own fin­ger,” said Jen Kib­bon, Michael’s mom.

Her two other chil­dren, An­nie, 6, and Jack, 8, were also ex­cited about the class at PalosHealth.

“It re­ally made them feel part of the whole process, and like they­were play­ing a very im­por­tant role,” said Kib­bon, who lives in Tin­ley Park.

That’s why the hos­pi­tal in Pa­los Heights of­fers the classes I’m a Big Brother/ Big Sis­ter! as well as Joy of Grand­par­ent­ing. The classes also present tips on in­ter­act­ing with ba­bies and keep­ing them safe.

“Pa­los Hos­pi­tal has al­ways rec­og­nized that grand­par­ents were an im­por­tant part of the child­bear­ing fam­ily, just as chil­dren are a big im­por­tant thing when their mom or dad brings a new baby into the fam­ily,” said Paul Driscoll, a nurse, lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant and ed­u­ca­tor at the hos­pi­tal. “It makes them feel spe­cial and just kind of tells them what ba­bies are like, what ba­bies

can do and how im­por­tant they are as big brothers, big sis­ters.”

Driscoll be­gins the sib­lings class by ask­ing young­sters if they knowthe name and gen­der of the fu­ture baby. Then the chil­dren, who are ages 3 through 9, watch a video show­ing what ba­bies are like, which is where Michael learned about baby hugs.

Chil­dren prac­tice hold­ing and di­a­per­ing a doll or stuffed an­i­mal, which they bring to class. Each child also re­ceives a col­or­ing book and crayons to take home, as well as a snack dur­ing the class.

Driscoll also men­tions that a baby’s diet will in­clude mom’s milk or spe­cial

milk from a bot­tle, though not reg­u­lar food un­til they are much older.

“We talk about where the baby is go­ing to sleep, what ba­bies do (cry, not talk). ...We go back to that they were ba­bies like this once too and mom and dad had to do the same things for them they will do for this baby,” said Driscoll.

Kib­bon said the class helped her chil­dren pre­pare for the new baby.

“I think they’ve been very con­scious of keep­ing their hands clean be­fore touch­ing the baby, they al­ways ask to hold her; not once have I seen any of them try to pick her upor to move her (with­out per­mis­sion),” Kib­bon said. “I defi- nitely think they do re­call what they learned.”

While Pam Marfise was al­ready a pro at tak­ing care of ba­bies be­fore be­com­ing a grand­mother, the class helped her brush up on how to help care for the new­born.

“I wanted to do things the way they should be done and the way that my son and his wife wanted them done,” said Marfise, who­lives in Or­land Park. “I re­mem­ber be­ing a new mom and I didn’t want to be the butting-in-mom telling them what to do ev­ery minute.

Driscoll up­dates grand­par­ents on par­ent­ing tech­niques that may have evolved since they were par­ents them­selves, such as that ba­bies should now sleep on their backs and should be placed in rear­fac­ing in car seats. A safety gate should be placed in front of steps to pre­vent falls, and any­thing dan­ger­ous, like med­i­ca­tion, should be kept out of reach, she notes.

But it’s not all about up­dat­ing grand­par­ents-tobe. The class also con­tains plenty of re­minders, she said.

“Part of the class is that we re­mem­ber what it was like when we had our chil­dren,” Driscoll said.


The Kib­bon chil­dren, from left, Michael, 3, An­nie, 6, and Jack, 8, with their mother, Jen Kib­bon, learned about wel­com­ing a new baby into their home dur­ing an I’m a Big Brother/Big Sis­ter! class in Septem­ber at Pa­los Health in Pa­los Heights.

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