Baby shower takes on infant mortality in Forest Park

On Saturday, Sept. 22, 32 moms attended a very special baby shower in the WeTHRIVE!℠ community of Forest Park. The event was held at the Head Start Program Center on Waycross Road and sponsored by Hamilton County’s Ohio Equity Institute (OEI).

The community baby shower was held in Forest Park for a reason. The city has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the county, according to Whitney Rémy, OEI Epidemiologist with Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH). Infant deaths in Forest Park increased by 86.4 percent from 2007–2011 to 2012–2016. “A racial health disparity also exists in this community, as non-Hispanic Black infants accounted for about 83 percent of all infant deaths from 2012 to 2016 in the 45240 ZIP code,” she said.

More than 30 moms attended the baby shower held at the Head Start Program Center in Forest Park.

The baby shower was a fun way for OEI to reach families at high risk for infant mortality. “We wanted to bring moms and families together to get some information, have some fun, eat some food, and get some resources from local agencies that serve them,” said Sydney Battle, OEI Coordinator with HCPH. “But most importantly, we want to let them know that we are here to help and serve them.”

Highlights of the free event included:

  • OEI Peer Advocates Alexia Ball and Jenetta Thomas, R.N. led interactive sessions on safe infant sleep practices, goal setting, and life planning.
  • La Soupe, OSU Extension, and Paramount Advantage provided a healthy, delicious lunch.
  • Every mom took home a bag full of baby items, a box of diapers, and a new Crock-Pot. Special thanks to Head Start for helping OEI get diapers and baby wipes donated.
  • The first 25 people who registered for the shower received $20 Kroger gift cards donated by Paramount Advantage.
  • Information, resources, and giveaways by vendors: Buckeye Health Plan, CareSource, Cradle Cincinnati Connections, Early Head Start/Head Start Preschool, Helping Young Mothers Mentor Inc, Lane Women’s Health, Mercy Fairfield Hospital, OSU Extension, Paramount Advantage, Southwest Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition, and Women’s Center of Forest Park.
  • Three lucky moms won raffle prizes — new car seats and a Pack ‘n Play donated by Mercy Fairfield and Lane Women’s Health.
  • Translators were available thanks to Mercy Fairfield.
Every mom received a gift bag filled with baby items and a big box of diapers (thanks to Head Start for connecting OEI with donors).

Sydney said it took a village to make the baby shower successful. The Forest Park Home Team, made up of community members, local agencies, and OEI partners, helped with planning. Head Start offered their space for the event and helped with promotion, set up and decorating. As noted above, many other organizations made donations and participated as vendors. “Each organization brought something unique to the table that was greatly appreciated and in the end created an awesome baby shower,” Sydney said.

After lunch and sessions on safe infant sleep and life planning, families visited vendors to learn about local organizations and resources.

Parents who attended the shower had only good things to say. “I liked everything,” said the mom of a 2-month-old. “Especially the nutrition part. I learned some new things and got a Crock-Pot. I cannot wait to use it. I have always wanted a slow cooker.”

A mom pregnant with her second child said while the educational sessions reinforced some of the things she already knew, “it was nice to get a refresher, and to learn a few new things as well.”

Another mom appreciated how the event provided a sense of community. “The togetherness is really good and I like that,” she said. “I think that’s my favorite part, it’s that togetherness.”

Paramount Advantage provided funding for Kroger gift cards, decorations, and refreshments.

Ohio Equity Institute (OEI) is a statewide program — run locally by Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH) — to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality. HCPH works with Cradle Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Health Department to implement and support infant mortality initiatives in the 45240 and 45225 zip code areas.