OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Tucked away in a side room at Overland Park’s Brew Lab, beer is being delivered to a group of men learning how to change a diaper.
It’s not something you’d typically see at a bar on a weeknight, but the lessons being taught are vital.
“We start with what to expect during labor, the infant birth process, interesting facts about infants, feeding, all the way through newborn emergencies and what to do if you see those,” said Nate Mattson.
He’s a NICU nurse and nursing professor who started his own business called Babies and Beer.
The healthcare professional and father of one created his company one year ago after seeing a big need for it.
“When I go to deliveries [at the hospital], I saw firsthand the need for new dad readiness. I can’t fault dads who aren’t prepared because if you look at what’s out there for them, honestly it’s not much,” he said.
Most classes on newborn readiness are only offered online or in the hospital setting for a one-time lesson.
Mattson wanted to change that and specifically create something geared toward men. He chose the brewery setting to get dads in the door and provide a relaxing environment.
Once a month, Mattson and a group of 15 students learn how to feed babies, change diapers, use car seats, and mentally prepare for those sleepless nights.
“All the content I give them is backed by hospital-based evidence. I’m not coming up with this on my own. I’m not sharing tips and tricks of my parenting experience,” Mattson said.
Mattson stressed that he’s not telling dads how to be a parent. He said he just wants to give them the basics on how to help take care of their infant during the first few weeks of life.
“I’m not ever interjecting my own thoughts and ideas on what to do. Everything comes from facts and credibility from a nursing standpoint,” he said.
Fifty men have come through the program in the last year, many of them finding it extremely useful in the weeks and months after getting home from the hospital.
“I knew that I needed more knowledge on how to be a parent,” said Tyler Gilman. He joined the very first-class last September ahead of his daughter’s birth.
Gilman explained the easiest lesson he learned is how to hold a baby, and that the hardest included learning a baby’s sleep schedule and how to support his wife during breastfeeding.
“She was pleased that I took the class because it showed that I was making an effort to try to prepare for when the baby got here,” he said.
The class sizes are small, about 15, to give each person one-on-one help. The goal moving forward is to get Babies and Beer fully funded so that men who are financially struggling can also attend.