‘Bundles’ program aids expectant parents

Airman 1st Class
Edward Drescher
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Expectant parents, especially first-timers, need all the information they can get their hands on. That’s where the Bundles for Babies program comes in. Although the program is not limited to first-time parents, it is definitely designed for them.

The Bundles program is sponsored by the Air Force Aid Society and started out as a test program in 1996. The program was well-received and 26 bases were chosen to participate in the first year. Now, the program is offered at 81 active-duty bases and 12 Air Force Reserve bases.

The program gets its name due to the small bundle of baby gifts given out at the end of each class. The bundle’s worth is around $65 and contains items such as crib blankets, booties, onesies, towels and cotton diapers. The bundles are given to all Air Force personnel in the class. Army personnel are still invited to any Bundles class, but will not be eligible to receive the package.

The purpose of the three-hour class is not to just give away free items, but to inform expectant parents of some of the things they will be faced with once they have their child. A series of briefers from the new parent support group, the wing safety office, the American Red Cross, the dental clinic, the family support center and the Women and Infant Children overseas office dispense a year’s worth of information in three hours.

“I think all of the briefings are very informational, they disseminate good, current information and you also get a good list of resources for later down the line,” said Sylvester Wiggins, FSC Air Force Aid officer.

All the briefs throughout the class bring different types of information to the parents’ attention. The new parent support group educates about the difference in feeding the child and what type of diapers to choose.

The wing safety office gives an entire brief about proper car seat installation and certain hazards while driving with babies. The Red Cross briefs about infant choking. They teach how to prevent it and how to stop it if it occurs, and they also give a good list of Red Cross resources. The dental clinic gives an informational briefing on taking care of the baby’s gums and mouth.

The FSC provides a couple of briefings starting with financial management. Also called “Budgeting for Baby,” this brief gives an in-depth look at some of the extra costs the baby will bring and gives tips on how to budget for it. The other FSC brief deals with relationship changes. This brief puts the expectant parents at ease and lets them know that all the changes in their relationship are completely normal.

“The relationship briefing is one of the best,” said Mr. Wiggins. “It explains the household changes and makes sure each couple melds together as a family.”

The final brief of the day is from the WIC office. This brief gives some information on the WIC program and explains exactly how to sign up for it.
“Being a new parent adds a lot of worries and questions. This class answered all those questions and even brought up questions I had never thought of,” said Airman 1st Class Sara Burt from the 435th Munitions Squadron, who attended the Bundles class in July.

Bundles for Babies classes are held monthly and run from 9 a.m. to noon. The next class is scheduled Aug. 23 and expectant parents can sign-up by calling the family support center at 480-5900.

Any parents expecting a child or who’ve recently had a child (less than a year) are eligible to sign-up for the class. When signing up, everyone is asked to sign-up themselves and their spouse if both will be attending. The class room holds a maximum of 36 people.