Kinder Ready invests in parenting with Welcome Baby totes

01/22/2018

By Sue Cody

In the spirit of “It takes a village to raise a child,” Clatsop Kinder Ready helps families of newborns get off to a great start.​

Every family in the county with a child born between September 2017 and September 2018 will get a Welcome Baby tote.

Northwest Parenting donated blankets with information on swaddling a baby. Other items include a baby hat, a toy, lip balm, lotion, a growth chart and an easy to read New Mom and Baby Care Book. The totes also include helpful publications about joyful parenting, Kinder Ready, breastfeeding, postpartum care, early literacy, safety, childhood development, parenting, activities and resources in Clatsop County.

W2W Welcome Baby Bag contents FB

“They have been really well received. Families are very excited,” says Diane Dieni, an early childhood educator and volunteer for the Welcome Baby project. “We want parents to be the best parents they can be and to feel like they are receiving a H.U.G from the community.”

The H stands for Healthy family; U – Understanding your baby; G – Growth, for the best growth and development of your baby’s brain and body.​

Volunteers assembled the totes, and many community organizations contributed materials.
W2W Welcome Baby tote FB

“The underlying message is: Organization after organization wants you to be successful parents,” says Rebeckah Orton, a North Star Doula. “They want you to be healthy. They want you to be connected. They want you to know you are not alone.”

About 20 bags have been delivered so far and about 400 are anticipated.

Inspired by Finnish program

“A group of us realized preparing for kindergarten doesn’t start at age 3,” says Kinder Ready coordinator Robbie Porter. “What can we do to help parents prepare children earlier?”

The idea for supporting families with newborns is based on Finland’s Baby Boxes, in which the government provides simple crate-like boxes, designed to provide a safe sleeping environment for infants. Instead of providing baby boxes for everyone, Kinder Ready is giving age-appropriate items and truly useful information in reusable totes. A few baby boxes are available for those without a safe sleeping place for their child.

W2W Welcome Baby book FB

The Welcome Baby tote program is funded by a grant from Oregon Community Foundation. A matching grant from Friends of Columbia Community Health funded the purchase of 20 baby boxes.

Community partners have been eager to participate. Contributions came from Northwest Parenting, Seaside and Astoria libraries, Early Learning Hub, North Coast Doula Services, Northwest Breastfeeding Coalition, Cannon Beach Community Church Women’s ministry, Northwest Regional Education Service District, Columbia Memorial and Providence Seaside hospitals and clinics, and Clatsop County Public Health Department.

The totes are distributed through Columbia Memorial and Providence Seaside hospitals. Women who have given birth after Sept. 1, 2017, can receive a tote at their postpartum clinic visits, breastfeeding or WIC appointments, or by calling 503-338-3362.

The Way to Wellville and its sponsor, Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, support early childhood education and health for all.

What’s in the bag?

A clever A-B-C book was created by local volunteers that offers suggestions from local and national organizations. For instance, L is for Library and has local contacts for libraries; V is for Vroom, a user-friendly downloadable app with information that helps kids’ brains develop. Families can find where to get car seats, breastfeeding information, health resources and much more.

Clatsop Community Action’s Clatsop County Resource Directory is included, with a list of all the service agencies and food pantries in the county.

“Many women don’t have resources and that guide is huge,” says Misty Bottorff, who distributes totes at Columbia Memorial. 

All materials are available in English and Spanish.

Many parents don’t know how they impact the growth of a child’s neurons and brain development through interaction, Porter says. The first family to receive a tote did not realize it was important to read to an infant​.

“Every mom really loves it,” says Bottorff. “And dads have been responsive to the kits, some are very excited.”

Orton says, “Look at how great it is to have a baby in Clatsop County. Everyone gets these. It doesn’t matter who you are. It’s a bag of useful items from people who are invested in your success as parents.”

The Clatsop County Resource Directory is available at http://bit.ly/W2Wccresource