HAMMOND — Claudia Gatlin, of Ponchatoula, sat on the floor with about a dozen girls before placing a blanket down for her “baby.”

The 13-year-old, who was enrolled in Thursday’s Super Sitter class at North Oaks Medical Center, said, “I baby-sit a lot. I know the basics of baby-sitting but didn’t know things like swaddling or CPR so I wanted to learn more.”

As Claudia practiced feeding, burping and changing her baby doll, she said she began to feel more confident about caring for younger children.

“I started with 1- to 3-year-olds,” Claudia said about her first experiences as a baby sitter.

“I knew what I was doing but I wasn’t 100 percent sure,” Claudia said.

The class teaches girls, ages 10 to 15, about “safety first,” said Maryellen Jenkins, community educator at North Oaks.

“It’s about keeping kids safe,” Jenkins said.

The 4-hour class taught the youth the “ABC’s” of baby-sitting: Action, Business and Child Care, according to handouts provided to the youth.

Enrollees in the free class learned everything from how to interact with children to marketing their baby-sitting business to child-care safety.

And while participants weren’t certified in CPR, the class did teach the youth how to perform CPR on children, what to do if an infant or child is choking and basic first aid.

The medical center does offer an additional class in CPR certification but there is a charge for the class, Jenkins said.

Savannah Woodward, 12, of Albany, signed up for the class to help her mom watch her siblings.

“I was hoping to learn how to swaddle a baby and how to change their diaper,” Savannah said.

Now that she knows how to perform those and other baby-sitting duties, Savannah said she might branch out into making baby-sitting a business.

“I would be interested in baby-sitting,” she said.

Jessica Rush, 12, of Amite, said she helps watch a family member’s 1-year-old and 4-year-old.

“I like kids, and a lot of kids like me,” Jessica said.

As the class progressed from how to detect safety hazards in the home to relating to children and caring for infants, Jessica said she had gathered plenty of helpful hints.

“I know a lot of it (the information), but now I understand all of it, not just some of it,” Jessica said.

Jessica said the class also taught her how to care for children, understand them and know what to do “in case something happened.”

For Savannah, the class taught her how to be more responsible and mature, she said.

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