July 23, 2019
Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators - The Hunger Cues Game
By: Mallory Emerson, LCCE | 0 Comments
This month's Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators is a fun charade type game that helps parents feel confident in identifying cues that it is time to feed their newborn. It has all the components of a great birth class activity - active, confidence building, fun and easy to conduct! Thanks to Mallory Emerson, a frequent contributor to our Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators' series, for this great idea. You can find all of the activities here. If you have an idea to share, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. - Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Connecting the Dots.
It is always helpful for new families to see videos and pictures of actual newborns exhibiting various cues. They are often interested in how universal the signals are while still varying from one baby to the next. In my breast/chestfeeding classes, I provide families with visual examples of how newborns act as well as share anecdotes and examples from babies I have interacted with.
It is also important to me that families get actively engaged in the content, get up on their feet, and laugh as much as possible! After multiple sessions of labor practice paired with massage and other comfort techniques, the breast/chestfeeding class can feel a little less active.
This hunger cues game is a quick, fun way to get parents up and out of their chairs, laughing and practicing how to spot their baby’s need for food.
What you need
Slips of paper with various actions on them. I had six groups of three cues. In each group one of the actions was a clear sign of hunger, while the others were either other newborn cues or general activities you might see from an infant.
How to play the game
Most recently, I had a small class with only three families. To run the activity with this small class, I started by giving three parents a slip from the first group of cues.
I instructed them to go to the front of the room and act out the cues described on their slip of paper simultaneously. As all three parents acted out their cues (grabbing hair, turning towards things with mouth open, throwing arms and legs out), I asked the rest of the class “which of these babies would you feed?” As a group, they called out answers and we discussed briefly. I mentioned that many of these cues would be familiar when they learned about general newborn cues in the last class of our series the following week. After this group sat back down, I gave the next set of slips to three other class members and we repeated until we’d gone through all of the cues.
You can structure the game differently depending on the number of families in class. In a larger class, you could break into teams and get more competitive -- assign points and prizes.
In a class that encompassed both breast/chestfeeding and newborn care in one session, I have played this game to teach a variety of newborn cues, asking questions like “Which baby would you burp?”, “Who needs a nap?”, etc.
My cues were just statements or descriptions on the slips of paper, but you could also include images of actual newborns exhibiting these behaviors as more guidance. The images could then be placed on the wall/table or passed around the group to give more visual reinforcement of how they might look.
How families reacted to the game
The families in my class loved this! They had already had four classes together and were a pretty friendly and energetic group, so they got right into it. One non-pregnant parent stretched out on the floor to show deep sleep “eyes closed, no movement, slow & steady breathing” and another climbed in a chair to show us “grabbing both feet with hands and laughing”. There was a lot of laughter and in between some great discussion about how babies show signs of hunger. It was an opportunity for individuals with more experience or knowledge to share what they already knew and a comfortable space for those less familiar with the cues to guess and ask questions.
This was a quick but effective way of teaching families about the hunger cues their newborn might demonstrate. It can be adapted for other newborn cues as well. A great supplement to this activity is sharing (in class or supplementally) educator Janelle Durham's very helpful video on newborn cues and also specifically feeding cues. Do you think you might try this activity for your own classes? How do you currently cover this material? Might you change this in any way? Let us know in the comments section below.
About Mallory Emerson
Mallory Emerson is a childbirth educator and doula in the Seattle area. She currently teaches Great Starts classes with Parent Trust for Washington Childrenand is passionate about providing evidence-based information to new families so that they can confidently navigate the decisions of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Mallory first trained with the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University in 2014. She is a Great Starts certified educator and also completed the Passion for Birth training before becoming a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator in 2017. Mallory is a DONA-trained Birth Doula serving the greater Seattle area and is currently working towards DONA certification. You can learn more about Mallory on her website, MalloryEmerson.com.