Hit the Ground Crawling

Hit the Ground Crawling (HTGC) is a groundbreaking antenatal training programme for expectant fathers, available in the UK only from the Fatherhood Institute.

Facilitated by trained midwives, health visitors or children’s centre staff, HTGC gives groups of dads-to-be the opportunity to learn childcare skills from new dads and their babies – and it gives services a popular and sustainable way of engaging with expectant and new dads during the period when they’re most receptive to parenting interventions.

HTGC featured in a Radio 4 documentary broadcast in September 2008, in the DCSF’s Children’s Plan One Year On: Progress Report, and as an example of best practice in the Think Fathers campaign. Its emphasis on providing support in the ante- and post-natal periods is explicitly backed by the Child Health Strategy (see for example sections 3.26; 3.33; 3.34; 3.36; 3.37; 3.39), and is well-grounded in research.

How the programme works

HTGC provides a model for engaging with dads during the period around the birth – when they are most open to information and support and are most likely to be in touch with public services. Independent evaluation shows that HTGC, with the opportunity it provides for dads to learn alongside – and from – other fathers, is effective at giving fathers greater confidence and skills, and encouraging them to be more supportive to mothers.

Recruitment of dads works smoothly because HTGC is presented as an integral part of antenatal services, which men are already well engaged with. And once it’s going, agencies find that HTGC develops a life of its own, quickly becoming a cost-effective and self-sustaining programme in which expectant dads, once they have become fathers, come back and act as mentors for the next intake of dads-to-be…and so on.

Read a case study about a Children’s Centre in Bradford and its experience of training as a Hit the Ground Crawling provider.

What the dads say

“At first, I was scared, like. But at the end of the day it has helped me, definitely. If I’d never done [it], I don’t know how I’d have coped. I don’t know where I’d been if I’d never gone.”

Feedback from dads suggests the benefits of the course include:

  • increased confidence in their role as a dad
  • increased knowledge about how to look after their baby
  • learning how to support their partner during pregnancy and labour
  • learning how to improve their relationship after pregnancy
  • learning how to cope with a huge change in their lives.

What the workers say

“The training was fantastic, and seeing the session in action made it all fall into place – now I feel ready to go.”

“HTGC is a powerful tool to support new and expectant fathers.”

“I’ve learned to allow fathers to speak without interruptions.”

“I’ve learned about how to engage fathers… and not letting your professional judgment cloud things.”


The cost of £5,000 to become an HTGC provider includes:

  • two days’ training
  • a detailed practitioner manual
  • phone and email supervision for a year
  • a licence to run HTGC courses.

Agencies grouping together for HTGC training, or local authorities booking for more than one Children’s Centre, may qualify for pro rata discounts.

Find out more from our National Practice Development Manager, Jeszemma Garratt on tel 0791 7864130 or email j.garratt@fatherhoodinstitute.org.