JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Newborns may not leave the hospital with instructions, but Pamela Hirsch and Mary Cargill with the Army Community Service New Parent Support Program provided some helpful pointers and tips for parents-to-be and childcare providers Jan. 31 during a baby bundles class on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

"There was a lot I wasn't aware about," said mom-to-be Danielle Fennell, who attended the class with husband, Christopher.

"This is great," said Christopher, who proved to be a master of baby swaddling during the two-hour class.

During the session, Cargill and Hirsch discussed everything from shaken baby syndrome to child proofing homes to keeping baby happy using Dr. Harvey Karp's "5's method," which includes swaddling, the side/stomach position, swinging, shushing and sucking.

"The more you know, the better prepared you will be," Hirsch said.

Shaken baby syndrome is preventable and usually occurs when parents or caregivers become frustrated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it results from violently shaking an infant by the shoulders, arms or legs. According to the CDC, as many as three to four children a day experience severe or fatal head injuries as a result of child abuse in the United States. Hirsch urged parents and caregivers to have a frustration plan and to implement it when they feel frustrated when caring for an infant.

"It's okay to put the baby in the crib and walk away," said Hirsch.

More than a dozen people attended last month's class, which was held in the ACS classroom in Bldg. 201 on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base.

Cargill said that keeping a home safe for a baby is a never ending task.

"When they're little, before they start crawling, there's not a lot of safety issues," she said, "but when they start moving around, you've got all kinds of issues."

Cargill said electrical outlets should be covered; electrical cords wrapped up; hanging items that can be pulled down should be taken down; and cord blinds should be kept away from cribs.
"If an object can fit inside a toilet paper roll tube, it's too small to be laying around," Cargill said.

Other tips from the class include:

Gates should be installed at the tops and bottoms of stairs; kitchen appliances should be closed tightly; and windows, particularly on upper floors, should not open any higher than 4 inches, she said.

Hot water heaters should be set at 120 degrees and toilet lids should be kept closed to help prevent accidents. Also, baby baths should always be supervised.

"A baby only needs a little bit of water to drown," cautioned Cargill.

Medicines, beauty aids and cleaning supplies should always be kept behind locked doors.
Hirsch and Cargill also discussed the importance of ensuring that car seats are properly installed in any vehicle a child is going to ride in.

"They won't let you leave the hospital without a safety seat, properly installed," said Hirsch.

Cargill said not to forget about your "furry kid" when bringing a newborn home.

"It's real important that if you have a pet, you acclimate them to the new baby," she said. That will help the pet get used to all the sights and sounds that the new addition brings to the family, explained Cargill.

Participants also received care packages containing handmade blankets knit by local volunteers and other items to help care for their newborns.

Baby bundles classes are held on the joint base every two months. The next class will be held March 29. To learn more, call 703-696-3512 or email

For more information on infant care, visit