Father Links Baby Shed Project
3 November 2011 Last updated:
8 October 2014
Father Links Baby Shed Project
By South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
The Baby Shed Project is a health promotion project offering early intervention to increase fathers' engagement with their baby and enhance their confidence in parenting. A series of three Baby Shed groups were facilitated over a twelve-month period from March 2009 to March 2010.
This project was developed by the Women's Health and Community Partnerships unit to address the limited availability of postnatal early parenting education programs for fathers.
Child and Family Health Services have traditionally delivered a service to new mothers and babies as opposed to new parents and babies. As these programs are offered exclusively during working hours they may be unavailable to the majority of working fathers, thereby indirectly excluding them.
This project builds on the Father Links Stage One Project. Download the Father Links Stage One Report ( pdf - 492 KB)
The intention of the Baby Shed groups was to provide a forum for men to talk about their experiences on transitioning to fatherhood; discuss the social and emotional changes for themselves, their partner, and their relationship while concurrently establishing a pattern of practical care-giving and emotional engagement between a father and his newborn baby.
Developing the fathers' skills and confidence with baby care activities also aimed to increase support for the mother through sharing the childcare responsibilities more equally between both parents.
The main objectives were to:
- provide and evaluate a postnatal group program designed specifically for fathers
- enhance emotional engagement between the father and their infant
- increase the capacity of fathers to take responsibility for the care of their infant
A health and peer support education model was utilised to normalise experiences and emotions as well as providing opportunity to increase fathers' confidence engaging with their new baby.
The effectiveness of the Baby Shed Project in engaging new fathers was measured by:
- attendance and retention rates over the duration of the group
- the fathers' self assessment questionnaire of their perceived feelings of confidence and ability in their parenting skills before and after the group
These measures were seen as a useful in ascertaining the effectiveness of the group in changing fathers' attitudes towards adopting the role of caregiver.
All participants reported a positive change in their overall sense of confidence as caregiver to their baby over the course of the group.
The presence of an experienced Child and Family Health Nurse, who was committed to involving fathers, was particularly well received by the father's attending the group, and felt to be one of the most crucial factors in reaching the objectives of the program.
There has been a great deal of interest in this pilot program, which has served as a useful learning experience for the coordination of future programs. It is believed that this style of group program can easily be adapted to other health settings to improve the health outcomes for families through enriching relationships and sharing experiences and responsibilities.
Child Protection Counsellor
Sydney Children's Hospital
Sydney Children's Hospital Network
Phone: 02 9382 0245
Early Parenting Program Coordinator, Child, Youth, Women and Families Health
South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
301 Forbes Street
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
GPO Box 1614, SYDNEY 2001
Phone: 02 9382 8685
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