Youngsters from across Pembrokeshire got a taste of the joys and difficulties of parenting recently.

Seventeen pupils took part in a Parenting Awareness session at the Urdd Centre, Pentre Ifan.

The residential stay was organised by Pembrokeshire Youth – Pembrokeshire County Council’s youth service.

The youngsters were given the responsibility of looking after ‘reality babies’ for the duration of the five-day project, including caring for them at night.

They were shown basic parenting skills, including dressing, nappy changing, feeding, winding and handling and also carried out the normal daily tasks of new parents such as shopping, preparing meals and having social time.

Workbooks were completed to show what they had learnt from talks with child care professionals covering topics from child development, ensuring safety around the home, parent welfare and services available to support new parents.

Senior Youth Worker Chris Powles said the aim of the stay was to show youngsters the difficulties faced by new parents, while also enabling them to complete a module of Pembrokeshire Youth’s award winning Personal and Social Development qualification.

"The ‘reality babies’ measured each response of the ‘parents’ which was then fed into a computer so the young people could see how they fared,” he said.

“The experience showed the group just how challenging parenting actually is and how it should be undertaken only when you are ready to commit to having a family.

“And hopefully it also gave them a new found respect for their own parents!”