One of the most common thoughts of any first-time parent is simple: “What?”
As in, “What? Nobody taught me how to do this. Nobody told me directly that this is how you’re supposed to change a nappy/diaper, schedule sleep, limit TV time, watch for allergens when starting solids, or how to read books in a lively kid-friendly, imaginative tone complete with character voices.”
Okay, parenting classes might not be able to help with that last one (if they do, call us immediately) but the rest is pretty standard fare. Still, it’s true, no one really teaches us how to be a parent.
For the most part, we scrap together pieces of parenthood from our own parents or the role models in our lives. We pick what we like, and drop what don’t, even if we’re reading the best dad books. However, even with that, any one of us can miss out on some of the foundational lessons that it would be way better to learn ahead of time – rather than learn on the fly when we’re sleep-deprived or splattered with a little surprise spit-up.
The solution: parenting classes. Parenting classes answer many of the questions, concerns, and anxieties of first-time (and even long-time) parents. In our book, You’re Going to Be a Dad, we go into detail about what these parenting classes can teach ahead of birth and why they’re so valuable for any parent-to-be.
“Whatever method of birth you’re planning for, it’s best to take a (parenting) class that holds the same values that you do. Childbirth classes are there to inform both you and your partner about what to expect…but one thing a prenatal class offers that can outshine nearly everything else – friends! A prenatal class is often one of the first times new and expecting parents can meet other new and expecting parents. You can finally talk to adults about everything you’ve been going through, and even build some long-time relationships through your experience! So, if not for the knowledge, go for the friendships. But actually, yeah, definitely go for the knowledge too – there’s so much good stuff to learn!”
In a modern world that moves just as fast as Ferris Bueller said it would, sometimes we just don’t have the time to make the commute to our not-so-local parenting class in our busy schedules. That’s why we have another solution: online parenting classes.
Do Online Parenting Classes Work?
It’s natural to be skeptical of online classes of any kind. Most of us associate teaching with classrooms, studios, and other professional environments. When you think of instruction, you imagine in-person – someone physically standing before you and guiding you on your knowledge journey. Particularly with parenting, it can feel like a personal touch is needed, and online classes might appear to lack that.
Luckily, this hesitance to go the online route isn’t worth the worry. Online classes do offer the personal touch you need and sometimes can feel even more personal – more one-on-one. Studies have shown online parenting classes are incredibly effective at guiding and improving the skills of young parents.
A 2019 Meta-Analysis published in the Journal of Family Psychology looked at 28 studies conducted on the effect of online parenting classes and found some encouraging results. There was a significant increase in positive parenting and parents’ encouragement. There was also a significant reduction in negative parent-child interactions, reduction in parent stress, child anxiety, and reduced interparental conflict. Generally, parents experienced reduced depression, greater confidence, and more.
The ultimate finding of the study suggested that online parenting programs “can provide benefits for parents who may not be able to access in-person resources.” It also highlighted one of the benefits of online parenting courses. In-person classes require a significant time investment, not just with time spent on instruction but also the travel time to and from the location. With the busy schedules of modern families, it can be tough to accommodate regular classes.
To that end, taking things online can not only save you money but time as well – two things every parent needs more of. There is also the added benefit of flexibility. Some online classes can be completed at your leisure, meaning no stress when life does happen to get in the way.
What to Look for When Choosing a Parenting Class Online?
One of the benefits of online parenting classes is their diversity and ease of access. While your choice of physical classes is locked into your geographic proximity, online courses don’t have those boundaries. Across the world, you can look for styles that meet your specific needs and interests without compromising on what is taught.
Are you interested in positive parenting? There are classes for that. Hoping to gain some insight into co-parenting or solo-parenting? You can find specialized courses just for you. Looking to strike a proper work-life balance? Or hoping to work on things with your spouse while finding your way as parents? You aren’t alone, and experienced professionals are available to be your guide.
With online classes, it is essential to remember that you don’t need to settle. Spend time considering your specific interests and needs as parents, and look for classes that prioritize those things.
Another critical factor to remember is cost and how much you are willing to pay for your course. Prices can vary quite dramatically but are often reflective of the course offerings. A good guide on pricing can be found here, but generally, there are a few things to be aware of.
Lower price offerings are often shorter classes with fewer resources available to you as a student and are less likely to feature direct/personalized instruction. Higher-priced courses tend to provide more supporting material, individualized support through direct contact with experts, and sometimes more qualifications/certificates from the instructor.
The 12 Online Parenting Classes We Highly Recommend
With so many options out there, and so many prices, we set out to review and refine online parenting courses for you. Taking into account all the various benefits and options available when it comes to online parenting classes, let’s take a look at some of the best ones on offer today.
UK based courses
Overview: The Dad Course is a UK-based online program designed to give dads-to-be the skills they need to thrive as fathers through the first year of their child’s life. Founded in 2016 by first-time-dad Dave Perrins, the course doesn’t just provide the practical skills you need to take care of a newborn and insight into being a supportive partner.
Focus & Course Length: Preparations for birth and post-birth are covered, as are more intimate questions about life as a father. How do you balance life with fatherhood, your relationship with your partner change, and what about sex? The Dad Course works to build a supportive environment where these questions are discussed and answered. The schedule for The Dad Course consists of four hours of video content, organized into four sessions lasting around an hour. Supplementing these sessions are two hours of bonus video content delivered via Teachable. Optional exercises are also offered to further engage with the video contents.
Features & Resources: A lovely part of The Dad Course is the optional, though free, Zoom group sessions. Featuring Dave (the founder) and other dads, these virtual group discussions can be a great way to meet other participants and learn about fatherhood in a guided group environment. And if you still have questions, Dave is available via email. Live video and video comments to answer any further questions you might have.
Cost: These features come at £39.99, with a full money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied. This deal is solid compared to the competition, and the reviews from participating dads speak to its quality.
“The Dad Course gave me a wealth of knowledge that I never knew that I needed or was perhaps afraid to ask at our NCT sessions. Dave is really knowledgeable, tying together lots of his reading on the subject and sharing what has worked for him and his family. Dave gives everyone space to talk, ask questions and provide advice without judgment. Highly recommend!”Leon
Overview: A UK-based non-profit organization founded by NCT-trained Antenatal Teacher Clare Castell in the spring of 2020. A direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Blossom Antenatal provides an extensive suite of classes taught by qualified instructors consisting of midwives, lactation consultants, and NCT-trained teachers.
Focus & Course Length: All classes are delivered through Zoom, with a maximum of 20 people per class. Time for questions is guaranteed in each session, providing a mix of conversation and instruction. A typical schedule is one 1.5-hour session per week over a four-week timeframe.
Features & Resources: Classes are typically booked per session, without a larger structure, with such topics as Breastfeeding, Infant First Aid, Sleep Workshops, and Hypnobirthing. There are two more extensive courses on offer, 4-Week Antenatal and 4-Week Hypnobirthing.
Cost: As a non-profit organization, most of Blossom’s classes are free of charge, though the small classes can sometimes make signing up for the right class difficult. We suggest signing up as soon as possible, though Blossom does try to accommodate expected parents with approaching due dates.
“We have attended several courses from Blossom Antenatal, including baby first aid, dads and birth partners course, breastfeeding and labour, and birth. We have found the courses really helpful, giving us peace of mind and confidence in becoming parents. We would recommend these courses to others.”Philip
Overview: A UK-based organization, the Natal Family, was founded by Stephenie and Dean Beaumont, a husband and wife team. The organization offers online and in-person instruction, though, at this time, only their DaddyNatal course is available online. Two new courses entitled BabyNatal and MummyNatal are planned for future release.
Focus & Course Length: DaddyNatal is a flexible program with 10 video sessions to be completed at your leisure. Guided by Dean Beaumont, the course covers the traditional side of birth, with additional lessons focused on what men can expect during pregnancy, labour, and the weeks after birth.
Features & Resources: Contents of the course include a detailed introduction and overview, downloadable reference sheets and quizzes as learning aids, practical answers to common questions, and insights into the father’s role during labour and birthing.
Cost: The course can be purchased for £35.
Overview: A London-based organization that combines parenting and childcare with proactive mental health practices. The Anna Freud National Centre is committed to providing a variety of courses that assist parents in caring for their children while ensuring the positive mental health of the family unit.
Focus & Course Length: This single-day course is specially geared towards expected fathers, raising awareness about the importance of paternal mental health in the perinatal period. The course is suitable for clinicians, mental health and healthcare professionals, researchers, and students. So those with a background in these fields may be best suited for the class.
Features & Resources: The class is delivered over Zoom. This course is designed to provide a broad overview from a professional perspective and may be best employed alongside more detailed studies.
Cost: Costs for this class are unclear on the organization’s website and may depend on the applicant’s circumstances. For more pricing information, interested parties should contact the organization for more information.
Overview: Founded by Iona Reading and based out of Bristol, this UK-based organization typically provides in-person classes for the Bristol and Bath areas but has since branched out into online instruction since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Focus & Course Length: Classes include Preparing for Your Baby’s Arrival, Preparing for Labour, Birth, and Parenting, and a Free Antenatal Course. Classes are typically completed at your leisure, with a guiding outline of the course for structure.
Features & Resources: Resource packages are available for topics such as Antenatal, Baby 1st Aid, Pregnancy Well-being, and Childbirth Well-being. These resource packets and toolkits include a variety of videos, handbooks, articles, and helpful links.
Cost: New Life offers a range of courses and resources that can be purchased at varying rates. The price of these resources and classes can vary dramatically, from around £40 for an introductory class to £295 for more comprehensive resources.
Overview: Scotland based Dad’s Rock run a number of initiatives for new dads and dads-to-be. They run a two hour workshops for all Dads to be in the UK, covering a range of practical skills and discussion around being a Dad.
Focus & Course Length: Classes include not only traditional learnings like how to change a nappy, but also focusses on perinatal mental health, attachment, buggies, sleeping, feeding and more.
Features & Resources: Features a number of dad groups and dad support beyond just this workshop.
Cost: The workshops are free, however they ask that attendees consider paying a suggested donation of £10 to cover costs.
“We’ve been running Dads Antenatal workshops for over seven years, and our biggest surprise is how much enthusiasm Dads have for being a parent. I love how much excitement there is in the room at our workshops, and sure there’s a wee bit of fear too, of the changes coming. The energy is contagious though and it’s great to spend time with men at this vital time in their lives. Dads are a valuable asset in the family, they are so important to the lives of their children, and have so much love and compassion to give.”Thomas Lynch, Service Manager of Dads Rock.
US based courses
Overview: A California-based program that is a part of the Able 2 Adjust, Inc Family, an organization founded for parents working on co-parenting through separation and divorce successfully.
Focus & Course Length: Classes include Co-Parenting/Divorce, High-Conflict Co-Parenting, Parenting Skills, High-Risk Parenting skills, and several others that focus on managing and resolving conflict between parents so that a healthy environment can be created for the child. Classes can range from 2 hours to 12 hours, depending on the number of topics the parents wish to cover in the class.
Features & Resources: Classes are divided into units, with a lot of flexibility in price and offerings. Longer, more comprehensive classes will come with a higher price tag and provide greater resources.
Cost: Prices can vary from around $30 for a few hours to $110 for lengthier, dozen-hour courses.
Overview: An American program founded by Ruth Freeman, Peace at Home emphasizes connectivity and emotional intelligence when raising children.
Focus & Course Length: Peace at Home offers classes to assist with parenting children of all ages, though it has a diverse range for first-time parents with newborns. Some classes include What to Do About a Fussy Baby, Healthy Birth Toolkit, and Working with a Newborn.
Features & Resources: Online classes are offered in various styles, with Live lessons available over Facebook, LinkedIn, and other online platforms. Recorded classes are also available, with a library of quick videos for parents seeking answers to pressing questions.
Cost: Prices for classes vary, but the typical cost for a single recorded class is usually around $27.
“My biggest surprise is how hard it is to attract dads to our program. Based on testimonials from dads, the issue may be privacy. Could it be that dads don’t tend to share with colleagues and friends the way many moms do? Some dads tell us that it’s hard for them to discuss what they consider private matters, or to “seek help from a complete stranger.” In addition, I have to confess that my son-in-law has pointed out that we at Peace At Home are often biased toward moms. Since he is the very loving, involved and intelligent dad to two of my grandchildren, I take this very seriously. We consistently look at our content through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens and I believe that including fathers as an intersectionality will help us frame our content to address the partnership and unique roles each parent plays. We are thrilled to be connected with Daddilife to learn how we can improve outreach to connect with fathers to bring them our proven solutions and compassionate support.”Ruth Freeman, Founder of Peace at Home.
Overview: An American organization that bills itself as providing Online Classes for the Modern Parent. They were co-founded by Becky Miller and Susan Blinn, two engineers, friends, and parents who wanted to create an online resource where fellow parents could find a collection of professional classes tailored to individual needs.
Focus & Course Length: Top classes include Baby 101: The Parenting Prerequisites, Childbirth 101: From Labor through Postpartum, and Sleep 101: The Baby Sleep Solution. The length of classes can vary greatly depending on the topic, but any purchased course comes with a full year of access, so you are free to complete the course as you have time.
Features & Resources: Some courses contain various supporting materials, including downloadable handouts, checklists, and on-demand videos.
Cost: From $30 for simple courses to $200 for package deals. Some classes are also free, though these come with less supporting material.
Overview: Founded by a husband and wife team named Ben and Jessica Lagrone. Ben is an experienced educator and K-12 instructional specialist, while Jessica is a childbirth educator and doula. Based in the US, they work directly as instructors in the specialized courses, along with Jessica Newcomb, a registered nurse, and pediatric nurse practitioner.
Focus & Course Length: Balanced Families offers only three courses but focuses on creating comprehensive classes that cover everything you need to know to begin as a parent. These courses are, The Birth Class for Couples, The Newborn Class for Couples, and Breastfeeding Made Simple.
Features & Resources: Balance Families courses include various supporting materials, including Hands-on Activities, Downloadable resources, an Online Support Group, and lifetime access to all resources. Plus, new resources are often added to the courses, meaning you’ll have access to even more help with each passing year.
Cost: Courses range from $69 to $129, but all three are available in a packaged bundle for $219.
“This course offers well-researched, evidence-based information about pregnancy, labor, and postpartum care. Ben and Jessica are fun and engaging without dismissing important topics. The layout and presentation of the modules are easy to follow despite being packed with valuable information.”
Samantha C., Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Overview: A single course offered by the University of San Diego and instructed by Professor David Barner, a member of the universities psychology department with a focus on language, thought, and conceptual development. The course takes a unique look at parenting, putting aside opinions and anecdotes to focus on the hard science and data of parenting. The idea is to inform parents about the reality of child care properly, so they can make reasonable, informed decisions about their child.
Focus & Course Length: Core topics include infant sleep, discipline, breastfeeding, language, bilingualism, and autism. While some analysis will be shown, math knowledge isn’t a requirement. The course takes five weeks and will require 3-5 hours per week to complete. It is self-paced so that you can progress at a comfortable speed.
Features & Resources: The class is free, though there is an option to pay for an optional upgrade. This means unlimited access to course material, a certificate of completion, and graded assignments. Unless you are a student, this probably isn’t necessary.
Overview: Though technically not a pregnancy course Meghan Leahy’s award winning Club Grow The Good is a 6 month based course that covers a number of subjects that will relate to early-stage and new parents as well as those with older children.
Focus & Course Length: The course that focusses on parents with children age 10 or younger looks at preventing power struggles with your children. It goes into the theory of connection and how to assess the challenges in a way that creates clarity. It teaches parents about power struggles and how to diffuse them, why crying is ok, and why punishments alone won’t work.
Features & Resources: Club Grow The Good is a 6 month membership where you go into an age specific online parenting course with two group coaching calls. There is also a book club call, access to a private Facebook Group, and weekly ‘drop in’ parenting chats – informal check in’s and encouragement.
Cost: $149 per month.
“My biggest surprise is that I thought more dads would sign up on their own due to easy access and affordability, but it still seems to be fully under the purview of the mothers. It still feels like the rearing, worrying, and work of improving or changing parenting lands squarely with the mothers. The dad may be taking the course with the mothers, but I don’t see much evidence of that. Maybe this is a marketing issue? Maybe the courses don’t speak to the dads the same way they do to the moms? I don’t know, and I also know that fathers play a much bigger role in the day to day parenting of their children compared to a generation ago, but it has not yet trickled down to the online parenting space.”Meghan Leahy.
Is a parenting course essential?
A parenting course is never essential for a parent, but it can benefit first-time parents. If you have the resources and time to spend on a parenting course and are interested in learning, online courses can be an excellent option for those learning to enhance their knowledge or learn new skills.
How much do parenting classes cost?
Parenting classes can range from free to several hundred pounds. Generally, the cost isn’t necessarily reflective of the quality, but more tells you how much supporting material will be made available. Higher-cost courses often have more resources, more one-on-one consultation time, and lower class numbers. This isn’t always the case, so it is good to research before signing up for a costly course.
Do parenting classes online cater to different parenting styles?
There are almost as many online parenting classes as there are parenting styles. That is why you should rarely have to settle for a course. With enough research, you can likely find a quality course that meets your needs.
Do online parenting classes teach you specific parenting skills?
Online parenting classes can teach various skills and often list them in their descriptions. This way, you can know which classes meet your needs/interests and choose accordingly. If you are engaging with a quality parenting class with little knowledge of the subject, you will likely pick up some new skills.