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Christ Child Society volunteers offer HUGS for infant caregivers

–by Mary Helen Darah


Janet Kimble

Janet Kimble has plenty of “hugs” to give to infant caregivers. Kimble, a member of the Christ Child Society and retired pediatric nurse, is one of the certified instructors for the organization’s new program called HUGS (Help, Understanding and Guidance). The program is a supportive, educational class for infant caregivers that covers everything from feeding to recognizing common infant behaviors. Kimble, who worked in a pediatric neonatal unit believes she found a way to utilize her assets through the Christ Child Society. “Most of my career–90% of it—has been with pediatrics. I came in as a new member of the Christ Child Society and heard Katie Hughes speak about the HUGS program,” recalled Kimble. “It seemed like a perfect fit for me.”

The new program was initiated locally by Katie Hughes, a doctoral student at the University of Toledo, as part of her doctoral program. “Katie (Hughes) was looking for someone to sponsor her doctoral thesis,” explained Kimble. “She reached out to the Christ Child Society and it was a fit. Basically, our mission is to serve the underprivileged population and children in need with the love of Christ.”

Being a Baby
Hughes and Kimble are the only people in the area that are currently certified to present the HUGS program. “We will need to certify one more,” stated Kimble. “Katie’s original thought was that we would have presentations three times a year. So far this month, I have made three presentations. We developed an outreach letter to send out to folks to see if there was any interest and received many replies. The program has grown very rapidly. We are very pleased. Usually with a new program, it takes time to grow. It has quickly become well received and desired.

The program lasts roughly two hours and covers a variety of issues and is geared for prenatal and postnatal mothers and/or infant caregivers. “We encourage moms to bring their family members,” said Kimble. “Everyone involved in a child’s life will benefit from learning how to decipher what babies are telling us when they cry, how to prepare formula, shaken baby syndrome, crib safety and tips on successful breastfeeding. The program is fairly scripted but it is not verbatim. We have liberties to add information while keeping up with the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is a two-hour presentation but keeping it within those parameters can be difficult to do. We encourage new moms to bring their babies so we can show them how to calm babies down. Moms have many questions about feeding and sleeping. We have known for a while that babies need to sleep on their back. One of their new guidelines is to put a baby to sleep with a pacifier for naps and bedtime to reduce the incidents of SIDS. Also, experts are now recommending that a child sleep in the room with their parents for a year—not in the same bed but in the same room. For the clients we service, this usually is not an issue because they only have one room. Another new thought is to utilize ‘bed boxes’ which are boxes that you put in the bed with you that the baby that are used as a bed. They vary in size. Most of what I read about them is that babies can be in them for 5-6 months. Many doctors are expressing varied opinions on them. I take a survey when I begin the program, and nine out of 10 times, the parents are using pack and plays as cribs. We give layettes to moms in the program.”

Reaching out
The Christ Child Society continues to look for organizations to partner with. “We continue to extend our scope and reach,” stated Kimble. “With the current heroin epidemic, we have been working with many grandparents, through the Area Office on Aging, that are raising their babies and young children due to this crisis.”

Hughes and Kimble have received positive feedback from the agencies that have utilized the HUGS program. “Their clients have walked away with a better understand of how to look at things a bit differently. The program opens the box for dialogue and that really helps,” stated Kimble.“Our goal is to reach as many people as we can.”

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