Volunteers join forces to support newborns


By Sue Cody

An age-old practice still works its magic to comfort today’s newborn babies. Properly swaddling an infant in a soft blanket can help calm crying and promote sleep, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

And when baby is happy, parents are able to relax. “Swaddling promotes attachment,” says Marissa Brown, coordinator for Northwest Parenting [nworparenting.com]. Wrapping a newborn in this special way makes the baby feel secure and cozy, as if still in the womb.

baby blankets

On June 11, a dozen volunteers gathered at the Clatsop County health department to share a potluck and roll swaddling blankets for local families. The blankets were provided by NW Parenting, which offers classes, education and events to encourage active parenting.

The baby blankets are one piece of Welcome Baby totes given to each family that has a baby born in the county in 2019. Clatsop Kinder Ready fills the totes with items and information gathered from the community.

In addition to the blankets, each tote includes an ABC book that lists resources such as libraries, social services and kindergarten readiness; a hat; teething ring; a milestone book; a growth chart; and mom and baby care handbooks.

The Welcome Baby totes are distributed at postpartum, breastfeeding and WIC appointments. Parents may also obtain a tote by calling Kinder Ready at 503-338-3362.

Keeping infants safe while sleeping

Smitten Sleep System boxes [pipandgrow.com/smitten-baby-bassinet/ ] are another initiative for parents of newborns. The Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization provides free Smitten Sleep System boxes, which are portable bassinets designed to keep an infant safe while sleeping.

“The sleep boxes are for those who don’t have other options,” says Maranda Varsik of the Columbia Pacific CCO.

Infants should not share a bed with their parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises. Babies should always be placed on their back, and on a firm surface such as a crib or bassinet that meets safety standards.

Varsik says the sleep boxes, which meet bassinet safety standards, can be placed in the same room as the parents. The boxes also have handles, making them easy to move from room to room.

The boxes come with useful items such as a diaper bag, changing pad and sleep sack. They’ll be distributed in the third trimester, or postpartum, at a provider visit.

Community support

Helping Clatsop families with newborns feel welcome is a community endeavor supported by numerous businesses, educators, agencies and groups.

baby blankets

Cannon Beach Community Church members buy fabric and make baby burp cloths at monthly sewing gatherings. Astoria and Seaside libraries donate books for the totes. The Clatsop County Commission and the Early Learning Hub donate funds to buy supplies.

“Every program we are involved in benefits from this effort,” says WIC Coordinator Norma Hernandez, speaking for the county health department.  

Welcome Baby totes were also handed out at last May’s Community Baby Shower, which drew almost 100 families who enjoyed dinner, motivational speakers and gifts.

“We want to bring the community together, so all new parents feel loved and supported,” says North Star Doula Rebeckah Orton.

The Way to Wellville and its sponsor, Columbia Pacific CCO, know that healthy lives create healthy communities. Just as newborns thrive when swaddled, families flourish when surrounded by community support.