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Bringing Up Baby: Early Parenthood Classes

Babies should come with how-to manuals, but they don't! For first-time parents, these early parenthood classes help navigate those uncharted waters.

Having your first child is without a doubt, a life-changing experience for every parent. Especially that first year! It’s full of extraordinary moments of joy and wonder, sleeplessness and anxiety, and lots and lots of questions. For myself and others, finding an early parenthood class was a lifesaver. It was immensely helpful in navigating the challenges of having a baby for the first time. Meeting other new parents and learning from one another under the guidance of a child development expert will do wonders for your confidence.    

Whether you need a lot of help adjusting to parenthood, a little help, or some level in between, an early parenthood class—or group—will support you on those first steps of an amazing journey with your little one. 

Early Parenthood Classes

Hall Mercer: Exploring Parenthood (0–6 months) 

Pennsylvania Hospital, Hall Mercer Building, 245 S 8th Street, Philadelphia

An “Exploring Parenthood” session at the Hall Mercer Child and Parent Center

The Hall-Mercer Child and Parent Center, which offers a host of early parenthood classes and groups, has supported new parents in the Philadelphia area since 1972. Many parent alumni of this program (including me!) will attest to the benefits of the group: improved parenting skills, greater confidence, a support system, a better understanding of child development, and peace of mind. 

The Exploring Parenthood class is an in-person discussion group for first-time parents of infants between 0–6 months old, led by experts in newborn care and infant development. In each class, parents ask questions, share experiences, and learn how to care for their baby with confidence. After discussion, the facilitator leads an activity or songs, or reads stories. Throughout this experience, you will meet parents whose infants are the same age as yours and can make connections that last years.

Parents may continue in the program with Exploring Toddlers, a playgroup for children 13–36 months. Also good to know is that there is financial assistance offered for these programs. 

Magic Moments 

Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, 1001 Remington Road, Wynnewood

Moms and babies at Magic Moments

Magic Moments is an early parenthood program designed to provide a supportive and nurturing experience for families with young children. Held on the Temple Beth Hillel campus, Magic Moments is not just for Jewish members. Families of any faith are encouraged to participate in this parenting program. 

The classes are led by Amy Botel, who modeled the program after the Hall Mercer new parent program at Pennsylvania Hospital. When she was a new parent, she participated in the Hall Mercer classes from the time her son was two months old until he was almost three years of age — and loved it! So much so that she developed this now-popular support group for new parents on the Main Line. 

“We have music time, story time, and the biggest part of class is our group discussion,” says Amy Botel. “I want my class to be a place where families can meet other parents and help get their babies ready for preschool. But most of all, I try to build confidence in new parents.”

In addition to building parents’ confidence, she sees the other primary benefit of her class is meeting other new parents. She says, “I am amazed at the community each session seems to create!”

Magic Moments runs four sessions a year that typically align with the seasons. It comprises two parenting groups for the first two years of your child’s life: 0–12 months and 10–24 months. 

Main Line Family Education

34 Berkley Road, Suite 200, Devon

A “New Moms” class Main Line Family Education

Main Line Family Education (MLFEd) provides expectant and new parents with small group classes, private classes, and the opportunity to connect with other new families, all in a cozy studio space in Devon. 

For early parenthood, MLFEd hosts the class, New Moms: Support and Connections, which aims to create a pod of new moms that stays consistent for the five-week class. In each 60-minute session, Dr. Beth Krause, Ph.D. will lead discussions about managing stress and building confidence and optimism. In this supportive environment, new moms will normalize and problem-solve common challenges of motherhood. The class covers issues of sleep deprivation, stresses of caring for a newborn, role transitions, and relationship strain.

One Main Line Parent community member says MLFEd has “so many amazing supportive classes to choose from! [It’s] unlike any other program in the area. These classes have been so helpful as a new parent.”

Most MLFEd classes for early parenthood are taught in-person at the Devon studio, while some are still offered virtually. 

A New Parenting Group

Emily Sonenshein, Psychologist, PsyD

111 Forrest Avenue, 2nd Floor, Narberth

Emily Sonenshein, a licensed psychologist based in Narberth, is forming a parenting group for moms of younger children (from infants through tween/pre-teen years) to discuss challenging parenting issues. The group may be separated into two groups to focus on age-specific concerns. Emily will guide parents in a weekly discussion where moms, dads and caregivers can share common experiences, offer each other support, and develop friendships. Through the group experience, parents will also increase insights and self-awareness around their emotional experience of parenting and develop new parenting skills and strategies. 

Participants may join virtually or in-person. If interested in joining the group or if you have questions about it, email Emily at emilysonenshein.psyd@gmail.com.

Join the Conversation!

The resources included in this article were provided by members of the Main Line Parent Facebook Community. Do you have an early parenthood class to recommend? You can add to the conversation or start a new one!

Lead photo courtesy of Magic Moments at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El.

Main Line Parent Writer & Calendar Editor. Email beth@familyfocus.org.