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Baby Fair: Love at First Sight

by BERL TISKUS
Reporter | February 8, 2024 12:00 AM

“Love at First Sight” was the theme of the 2024 Baby Fair, held Feb. 3 at the Joe McDonald Health and Fitness Center on the campus of Salish Kootenai College. 

The fair drew a large crowd of parents and parents-to-be, babies, grandparents and toddlers in strollers (or struggling to escape). 

Candy-colored balloons, giant baby bottles were part of the decor. At the north end of the gym, employees with CSKT’s Early Childhood Services called winning names for door prizes. 

The entire floor of the Joe was covered with tables stocked with children’s books, games for kids, and information for grown-ups. Offerings included deep tissue massage on the mezzanine for parents, eye checks for kids, free haircuts, plus play spots for kids to expend energy and a table for parents to pick up clothes for little people.

One table was put together by SKC students Marissa Roth and Hailie Henderson. Since their presentation was on nutrition, they served fruit cups and fruit kebabs and talked with visitors about My Plate, a nutrition program. 

For a fun game, they created “Diaper Pong,” featuring a poster decorated with small diapers, opened and taped as if a chubby little baby body was inside. Participants stood in a line, tried to toss a ping-pong ball into a diaper and it they succeeded, answered the question near the diaper to win a children’s book. If they missed the diaper, they could always try again. 

Leveling the playing field

The Baby Fair has been around for nearly 20 years, according to Jeanne Christopher, director of the CSKT Early Childhood Services. Christopher has worked for ECS for 50 years and loves her job. 

About 85 employees work for ECS, and many of them helped put on the Baby Fair. Many also work for Head Start, which is one of Christopher’s pet projects. 

“The more kids are exposed to at an early age, the better off they are and the more equipped they are for school and life,” Christopher said. That includes exposure to books, piles of which were all over the gym or clutched by kids. 

She thanked all the organizations and individuals who provided gifts and games. 

One anonymous donor brought five complete layette sets, different colors. 

“She made them just out of the kindness of her heart,” Christopher said. Each contained a little crocheted dress and a hat.

After years spent working with children and families, Christopher notes “that it’s not a level playing field for all families.”

Events like the Baby Fair help shore up the playing field in a fun way.

    This young man was wide awake and enjoying the Baby Fair while his twin sister napped. (Berl Tiskus/Leader)
 
 
    An SKC student who graduated last year was in charge of haircuts at the Baby Fair. (Berl Tiskus/Leader)
 
 
    SKC students Marissa Roth, left, and Hailie Henderson teach nutrition using the My Plate model and a fun game of Diaper Pong. (Berl Tiskus/Leader)
 
 
    Balloons with pink and blue baby feet decorated the 2024 Baby Fair on Saturday. (Berl Tiskus/Leader)