BROOKSVILLE — Dawn Easter had some potentially life-saving information to share on Saturday with new mothers: "Never, ever put your newborn baby to sleep on his or her tummy —babies always need to sleep on their backs."
Easter, the Healthy Start community liaison for Citrus and Hernando counties, discussed other ways to create a safe sleep environment for babies. It was just one of the many educational workshops offered to new and expecting moms at the 12th annual Hernando County World's Greatest Baby Shower.
More than 200 moms and guardians gathered at the Grace World Outreach Church on Cortez Boulevard and perused tables, played games and listened to speakers from local community agencies.
"Most don't know that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading cause of death in infants under one year," said Easter. According to statistics from the National Institutes of Health, African-American babies are two times more likely to die of SIDS.
"New moms need this information," says Easter, "And the Baby Shower is a way to make it fun and educational."
From breast-feeding basics to car seat safety, moms were schooled on the latest and greatest on infant care.
"We've got to create a smoke-free environment for children," said Karen Gidden, Healthy Communitites, Healthy People coordinator for the Hernando County Health Department. Cigarette smoke is a leading aggravating factor for those prone to asthma.
While there were not as many vendors as last year, Kimberly Williams, event organizer and office administrator for Hernando County's Childhood Development Services, said there were many more donations from local businesses.
"There's been a lot of information for everybody here today," said mom-to-be Aurora Rodriguez, 31, of Dade City. Though she and husband have two children already, she was interested in learning some potty training techniques for their baby, who is due March 27.
Moms entered raffles for a chance to win newborn necessities such as a crib, a play-pen, or one of many baskets brimming with lotions and other baby-care items.
Most importantly, they were put in contact with local agencies able to help them through the first year, the hardest year. Agencies such as the Health Department and Women Infants and Children (WIC), Catholic Charities, and the Office of Early Learning, all offered valuable services to help new mothers financially and otherwise.
"We had some excitement this year — for the first time a woman's water broke during the event," said Williams, "Each year the event gets better and better."