West Nodaway child development students are now experiencing realistic childcare with life-like electronic babies.

The school purchased new reality babies that have more features and sensors than previous models.

The electronic dolls help students experience the responsibilities that come with caring for infants. Students must feed the baby, diaper and burp it. In some instances, the electronic babies just want to be rocked.

Sophomores Jana Dow, Dylan Carden and Parker Ogle hold their babies during class.

Sophomores Jana Dow, Dylan Carden and Parker Ogle hold their babies during class.

The units have temperature sensors that register if the baby was left in a dangerous location such as a parked car. They also have neck sensors to detect that they receive constant neck support, like a real infant.

“I really like the reality babies because it really shows kids how much babies cry,” Vanessa Shipley, child development teacher, said. “I think it gives them a little insight about the responsibilities a baby requires and a taste of what having a baby is really like. It is the next best thing to a real baby.”

The students take their babies home on Friday and turn them back in on Monday. In the past, the program required students to keep the babies throughout the week, bringing them to school, sports practices and classes. Shipley said she decided to restructure the activity so the dolls were not disrupting other classes.

Every sophomore is required to take the child development course. They learn about family life, pregnancy and child birth and research birth defects. They also discuss issues such as breast feeding versus bottle feeding and different discipline styles. Students take a position on these issues and defend their views.

The course covers child care and child development. Shipley said an emotional part of the course is when students study child abuse and neglect while reading “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls.

“They tend to like the class,” Shipley said. “They learn a lot and have fun with it.”