December 2, 2021

Community baby shower in Cortland helps new moms

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

The Cortland YMCA and Molina Healthcare organized a community baby shower event, inviting expecting or new parents to pick up free baby clothing, formula and supplies Saturday at Suggett Park in Cortland.

Homer resident Hana Aghababian, 27, is starting the third trimester of her first pregnancy and her friend Sarah Epplin, 26, of Tully, is only a few weeks behind her.

The Cortland YMCA’s community baby shower Saturday afternoon helped them stock up on diapers and baby clothes.

“I came looking for lots of little onesie outfits — my cousin told me you have to change them constantly, so it’s good to have a bunch of little button-up outfits,” Epplin said.

The baby shower took place at Rotary Pavilion in Suggett Park in Cortland. Rows of picnic tables were lined with baby clothing, baby formula, diapers and other supplies every new parent needs.

“In different ways, families have been hit really hard this year due to COVID, and any extra support that we can provide — especially during the critical time during the first year of your child’s life — any support system is really helpful,” said YMCA Outreach Coordinator Hannah Gibbons-Arthur.

Molina Healthcare sponsored the event. More than 20 women got to meet with experts from Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, the Cortland Pregnancy Center, Family Health Network, Child Development Council, CAPCO and the Cortland County Department of Social Services.

“For first-time moms, there’s a lot of things you want to ask about,” said Patricia Quick, a senior quality analyst for Molina Healthcare. “So just providing educational resources, like when you should go to the doctor and how often, things you need to know when your baby’s coming, and of course preventive measures to avoid getting sick.”

Quick said when she first joined the healthcare field, she realized that many first-time moms need guidance and support through their pregnancy and the first year of their child’s life. She encourages expecting parents to connect with their community organizations and with fellow parents for support.

Aghababian talked to a representative from the Cortland Pregnancy Center about available services while Epplin talked with Olga Levitskiy, an obstetrics nurse manager at Guthrie, about what she can expect when her baby comes.

Epplin said she’s fretting about being properly prepared for the birth of her son. She doesn’t know exactly what to expect in the first few weeks as a new mother.

Aghababian said it was great having the chance to meet with people who understood what she’s going through and could help.

“Guthrie is where I’m going to deliver and I’ve had birthing classes there, but I didn’t know they also had breastfeeding instruction, as well,” Epplin said. She went home with a packet of information, along with a box of diapers, bags of baby clothes and a new bassinet.

The Cortland County community donated more baby clothing and supplies than the mothers knew what to do with, said Gibbons-Arthur. Anyone who missed out this weekend can visit the Cortland County Family YMCA Facebook page for updates about remaining donations.

Some more baby take aways
Here are tips for new parents to help newborns develop:

  • Talk to your babies. They find your voice calming. And answer when your baby make sounds by repeating the sound and adding words. It helps teach language.
  • Read to your baby. This will help her develop and understand language and sounds. n Sing to your baby and play music. This will help your baby develop a love for music and will help his brain development.
  • Do not shake your baby. Babies have very weak neck muscles. If you shake your baby, you can damage his brain or even cause his death.
  • Put babies to sleep on their backs to prevent sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke in your home to protect your baby from second-hand smoke.
  • Place your baby in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat.
  • Make sure your baby receives the appropriate vaccinations.
  • Breast milk meets all your baby’s needs for about the first 6 months. Between 6 and 12 months of age, your baby will learn about new tastes and textures with healthy solid food, but breast milk should still be an important source of nutrition.
  • Feed your baby slowly and patiently, encourage your baby to try new tastes but without force, and watch closely to see if he’s still hungry.
  • Keep your baby active. Getting down on the floor to move helps your baby become strong, learn, and explore. Don’t keep your baby in swings, strollers, bouncer seats and exercise saucers for too long.
  • Limit screen time. For children younger than 18 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies do not use any screen media other than video chatting.
  • Make sure your infant up to 12 months gets 12 to 16 hours of sleep every 24 hours.

— SOURCE: National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.