THEY may have looked cute - but students at a Sheffield school discovered the hard work that goes into looking after a baby when they took part in a unique experiment.
Year 11 pupils from Stocksbridge High School got their first taste of parenting using virtual babies designed to imitate all the demands a real baby places on their mum, dad or carer - from being hungry to needing a nappy change or a nap.
The Health and Social Care students took the dolls, hired through a company called Life Choice, home for more than 48 hours over the weekend.
Student Nicole Hawley, from Stocksbridge, said the experience had shown her she was not ready to be a mum.
The 15-year-old, who named her doll Lewis Jack, said: “He woke up three times the first night but after a feed or a change he went back to sleep and as soon as he went down I was able to get back to sleep.
“The weekend was really useful in showing what it’s like and I would definitely do it again. But I’m certainly not ready for any of my own yet!”
Classmate Hannah Kenny, 15, of Stocksbridge, said: “On the Friday night he seemed to wake up each and every hour crying.
“He needed either feeding or changing - I knew what to do to stop him - but it did mean I was tired on Saturday.
“The weekend was really useful because it showed you how much hard work it is looking after a baby. I started to feel fed up near the end because I kept trying to get things done but I’d get half way through and then I’d have to stop because he needed me.
“It showed me that at the moment I’m too young to cope with such a big responsibility as looking after a little baby.”
Emma Crowther, also 15, said she too had experienced sleepless nights at the hand of her little boy doll Lucas.
The Deepcar student said: “The experience has shown me I’m not mature enough yet to have a kid.
“I think the experience will help with our coursework because it’s shown us what it’s like.”
Teacher Claire Jackson said: “It really did give them a taste of the responsibility and the time you have to put in to being a parent. It was really difficult for them and they all arrived at class on Monday morning looking very tired and very willing to hand them back over.”