Not Ready to Be a Parent

Dunbar’s Family and Consumer Science department hosts a class that has students learning first hand what it’s like to be a parent. Sophomore Madelyn Justice learned that motherhood is more than she ever thought.

Having to take care of a baby comes with many responsibilities that most teens aren’t equipped to handle. Dunbar’s Family and Consumer Science department has a program to help teens understand the enormity of raising a child. It’s called the Real Care Baby, an infant simulator, and it’s part of the curriculum for Parenting and Early Childhood Educations classes.

These infant simulators cry when needing to be fed, diapered, or even burped. According to the manufacturer, the program adds “meaning and accountability” by using wireless programming that reports caregiver behavior back to the teacher. Any instances of mishandling are recorded.

I took part in this lesson, and this was my experience:

Day 1

I received the real care baby.

~My baby cried twice within 4-5 pm for comfort and change.

~Three times within 7-8 pm to be fed and changed.

~Three times within  9-10 p.m. to be fed and comforted. 

~The night concluded with six cries during 10-11 p.m. for various things such as being burped, fed, changed, and comforted. 

After 16 cries within the hours of 3-10 p.m., I’m exhausted. 

Day 2

I had a rough night last night. 

~My baby woke up three times between 2-3 a.m. to be changed and comforted. 

~The baby then settled down for a few hours until 4-5 a.m. and then cried twice to be once again changed and comforted.

~My baby then gave me a wake-up call to be changed at 7:13 a.m. 

~The baby was then good for the rest of the day only needing a diaper change at 6:57 p.m. and to be burped again at 11:01 p.m.

After only getting a few hours of sleep, I am worn out.

Day 3

This was a better night.

-My baby woke up three times for a diaper change at 1:58, 3:34, and 5:11 a.m. 

~With it being more spaced out, I wasn’t as tired as the night before. However, I had to get up at 7:37 a.m. for a feeding.

~After this, the baby cried three additional times before the project ended at 8 a.m. to be comforted and burped.


This diary helped me realize that my baby cried 73 minutes out of the 41 hours I had it. The whole experience makes me hesitant about having kids in the future because it was very easy to feel frustrated when the baby was crying and wouldn’t stop.

It was also very challenging to understand that you had to treat the doll like a real baby. I would wake up in the middle of the night by its crying and I’d have the urge to ignore it, but I couldn’t.

I feel the hardest part about this project was not getting my normal amount of sleep. Even though I was sleep-deprived, I still had to wake up and come to school. I found that paying attention in school and through day-to-day activities was challenging with very little sleep.

Overall, I found this to be educational. I got the perspective on what it might be like to be a mom. Even though it was only two days, I have an idea of what it would be like long-term.

I think that the project helps students think twice about becoming parents. I know it certainly did for me.