More than 600 expectant parents participated in Winn Army Community Hospital’s second annual Baby Expo from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the hospital.
Winn Public Affairs Officer Michelle Gordon said the expo mostly was for first-time parents and those who haven’t had a baby in a long time. Couples thinking about having a baby also were welcome.
In addition to 35 on and off-post vendors who gave away sample baby products, the expo offered free child-safety-seat inspections, tours of Winn’s mother-baby unit, including the labor and delivery area, and lots of information about pregnancy and child care, she said.
“Last year’s event was organized in part because of Fort Stewart’s baby boom,” Gordon said. “Prior to summer 2011, the average birth rate for Winn was 60 to 70 births a month. It more than doubled (the rest of the year), and it has remained high all this year. Last month, 105 babies were born at Winn, and another 101 or more are projected to be born (by the end of this month).”
Capt. Frances Young, a labor-delivery nurse and organizer of this year’s event, said they had to expand the area for the event this year in anticipation of a larger turnout.
This year, chaplains, doctors and nurses lined the hallways throughout Winn’s entire first floor. They provided information and signed parents up for free child-birth classes, breast-feeding classes and child development programs.
“Last year, we had over 300 parents attending,” Young said. “This year, well, I’ve just been told we’re almost out of tickets. I started out with a roll of 500 tickets, and it’s not even noon yet.”
Young said the expo was open to the public and not just the military, explaining the importance of keeping the event and services offered free in order to promote good health for everybody.
In addition to the giveaways and mountains of information, Young said the expo also included a baby dance, a daddy-diapering competition and a baby-food-eating contest. Demonstrating her own diapering skills, Young stepped up to the table on stage in Winn’s Patriot Room, where four doll representing 3-month-old babies awaited diapers.
Laughing, she admitted it was a little easier than diapering real little ones because dolls don’t squirm.
She said special door prizes also were awarded, including a $75 gift basket of baby products, a breast pump and four tickets to Dollywood.
Spc. Nicholas Huff, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said he and his wife Deanna attended to get all the information they could because they are about to welcome their first baby.
“We’re pretty excited, he said as his wife reached for a pamphlet about breastfeeding. “She’s due Sept. 15. It’s a girl.”
Huff said the expo was “a lot of fun.”
“The Baby Expo is really a one-stop activity for parents,” Gordon said. “It’s one place they can come to for everything they need to know about having a baby without having to drive all over the place. And it’s free.”