Several moms-to-be are ready for their “little bundles of joy,” thanks to a community baby shower hosted this week by archdiocesan Catholic Social Services (CSS) at its Delaware County Family Services Center.

The July 29 event featured lunch, raffles, gift baskets and games, along with several guest speakers, including Maryanne McGerty-Sieber, a product safety investigator with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), who distributed a baby safety checklist that doubled as a growth chart.


Products from “strollers to cribs to high chairs” are regulated by the independent federal agency, McGerty-Sieber explained, and such oversight is crucial.

Over a decade ago, the CPSC banned once-popular “drop side cribs” (whose wood-slat panels could be lowered by parents) following more than 150 infant deaths from suffocation and strangulation during the period 2007 to 2010. As part of that ruling, the agency also broadly revamped rules on crib design, which had not been updated during the previous 30 years.

McGerty-Sieber cautioned families on tight budgets against relying on cribs — often “biggest purchase” among baby items – that are outdated and out of compliance with current safety standards.

Mothers attending a July 29 community baby shower hosted by archdiocesan Catholic Social Services in Chester listen to a presentation on consumer safety for baby products. (Gina Christian)

Also on hand at Thursday’s gathering was fire prevention officer Kevin Postlewaite of the Chester Fire Department, along with several community partners such as the Foundation for Delaware County, the Individuals Aiding in Emergencies (IAE) Foundation, Cayaba Care (a supplemental maternity care provider), Health Partners Plans and the EDSI Program.

Connecting expectant and new mothers with such resources can help women “level up in their lives” and strengthen their families, said CSS parent educator Linda Barnard.

The agency regularly hosts community baby showers as part of its broad range of support for families.

In June, CSS was named for the ninth straight year as Pennsylvania’s “Service Provider of the Year” by Real Alternatives, a non-profit, charitable organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that administers pregnancy and parenting support services.

During 2020, the agency assisted 3,976 pregnant women through its Beautiful Beginnings program, distributing diapers, baby food, maternity and baby clothing, car seats, and baby furniture.

That support remains vital, said Barnard, as CSS’s clients continue to feel the pandemic’s economic impact.

“Financially, the families are struggling, especially if they have multiple kids in the home,” Barnard said.

Child care demands have intensified as well, taking a toll on mothers’ own “need for self-care,” she added.

“We’re trying to give them little mom gifts, just for them,” she said.

The greatest of those gifts may just be the “fellowship with one another” pregnant women and new moms enjoyed during the afternoon, Barnard said.

“It just brings them all together,” she said. “We have great food. We bring the babies and we feed them all, play some games and just have fun.”

A young attendee at a July 29 community baby shower hosted by archdiocesan Catholic Social Services napped during a talk on consumer safety for baby products. (Gina Christian)