Parenting classes can teach just the basics of feeding and caring for an infant, but they are so much more effective with the hands-on experience when using computerized dolls. These technological wonders simulate an infant's crying, sleeping and feeding cycles, giving prospective parents and students a real taste of what caring for a tiny baby really entails.
Types of Dolls
Some computerized dolls are very simple and require only the use of a key to stop the doll from crying. Students and prospective parents are monitored as to how quickly they respond to the infant's cries. Other dolls are more complex, requiring the caregiver to feed and change the baby, having to wake up at all hours of the night to do so. Specialized models can even register if the doll is neglected or abused and will record the details if the artificial baby is dropped, shaken or struck.
Most commonly used in high school parenting classes, these automated dolls give students a real taste of what caring for an infant involves. The purpose of this training is twofold. The first is to teach young people the basics of childcare -- changing diapers, reacting to cries, feeding times and how to properly hold and handle a small baby. Getting up multiple times in the middle of the night to feed a crying infant, even if it is not real, can be a real wake up call to parents who think that caring for small children is easy. Course curricula may require students to take the dolls home for a weekend or even a week, leaving many students sleep-deprived and with a better understanding of what caring for an infant involves.
Preventing Teen Pregnancy
The second goal of this training is to deter students from risky sexual behavior -- experiencing firsthand the challenges of caring for a small child can be a real deterrent to premarital or unprotected sex. Both girls and boys alike will find that the interruptions to their schedules, the burden of carrying an infant around everywhere they go, and the demands of a hungry child are routines most are just not ready for.
Dolls are even constructed to show the effects of shaken baby or fetal alcohol syndromes. They may have either the physical characteristics or the symptoms of these medical conditions. For example, a shaken baby may react to stimuli with crying and tremors. An artificial infant with fetal alcohol syndrome may have the facial features of a baby whose mother drank excessively while pregnant. These are used as deterrents to both child and alcohol abuse.