Lauren Hermann watches as Mary Ann Quintero and Hermann’s daughter Zelma play together with stuffed animals at the San Marcos Public Library. Daily Record file photo by Denise Cathey
Annual Baby Day promotes early childhood development
After a successful inaugural year in 2019, Baby Day is expanding its free early childhood development-oriented programming to nine cities across Texas, including San Marcos.
Baby Day is the only statewide celebration of the first three years of life, a day established to celebrate the development of Texas’ youngest and raise awareness for the importance of high-quality early learning accessibility to families and communities.
Behind the Baby Day vision is First3Years, the statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate, advocate and collaborate to advance the healthy development of infants, toddlers and their families.
Each year, First3Years partners with like-minded organizations across the state to host a day of bonding between caregivers and children. The San Marcos Public Library, in conjunction with the Early Childhood Coalition of Hays County housed under Community Action of Central Texas, is hosting San Marcos’ Baby Day activities from 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 15.
According to Alex Mylius, Community Action of Central Texas Early Childhood Programs deputy director, the upcoming Baby Day celebrations seemed like a good opportunity to not only highlight the organizations and resources that are available to young families in San Marcos, but also a way to highlight the library’s soon-to-be-built Infants and Toddler Wing, that was a part of a bond project that was approved by voters in 2017.
“In San Marcos, my thought was that in the not too distant future, we're going to have an amazing infant and toddler wing in our library,” Mylius said. “So my hope was that this would be kind of an introduction to the idea of Baby Day and encourage people to take time out on a Saturday to really kind of celebrate the first three years of life. So we want it to be fun and engaging and we also want it to be informative.”
Mylius said the earliest moments of life are also some of the most important developmentally, so making learning a priority in those early years is critical to creating a strong foundation for future health, social skills and success later in life.
“We find that an incredibly important piece of overall child development, and one of the best predictors of overall school readiness and overall health throughout the lifespan, is all built on what you do in the first 3 years of life,” Mylius said. “Just like when building a house, a really strong foundation is what you're setting up in those first three years. So that's why we emphasize helping young kids, because knowing that in order for children to be successful, their parents have to have the right kind of support.”
According to Mylius, Hays County is a “young county,” with the majority of children in Hays County being under the age of five.
“We have a large population of children ages birth to 5 in Hays County and that is a population in which you will oftentimes find parents struggling the most and for a variety of reasons,” Mylius said. “They’re young families, they're new and it's their first time doing it. They might not be at a place in their career where they're making the most money and they're just growing together. And so it's definitely a time to provide as much support as possible. It's also just good brain science; if we provide support in that really critical window of early brain development, the outcomes are so much better.”
The Baby Day event at the library will have vendors with information about programs and resources available to families with children ages 3 and under in Hays County as well as developmental screenings, parent and child yoga, a Mermaid Puppet Show, Mermaid Story Time and Mermaid Photo Booth hosted by Mermaid Society SMTX, giveaways, four carseat raffles and a proclamation from Mayor Jane Hughson. The first 50 attendees will also receive a free backpack with baby-friendly prizes.
The screening at the library will be provided by Community Action of Central Texas in conjunction with other organizations. They are meant to be user-friendly and are intended to be completed by parents. The screenings will have follow up contact information, should parents have any concerns or questions.
Mylius said the Baby Day events are aimed at helping to bridge gaps for young children and families in the community.
“The idea is to be able to ensure that families regardless of their ability to pay, have an opportunity to connect,” Mylius said. “Connect with each other, connect with the library, connect with other services and nonprofits; it is the overall goal of the entire event.”
All San Marcos public Library events are free and open to the public.
To register for the Baby Day event at the San Marcos Public Library, go to EventBrite.