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World News

Babies weighing in to life at Devon Church

by Donna Birrell

A Devon church is supporting parents of young children by offering a baby weighing facility at its weekly baby group. 

St Michael’s Church in Alphington, Exeter, got the specialist baby scales after learning that local parents were finding it hard to get their children weighed.

Lucy Williams, a former children’s worker who now volunteers at St Michael’s, said, “You have to go into the local secondary school and just weigh you baby in the corridor which is not a pleasant experience for a new mum.

“We now have the scales at our Bumps and Babes group so parents can come in, weigh their babies in private and then stay for a coffee a chat and support. 

“We also use the scales at our toddler group if there are any mums who want to weigh their babies.” 

It is recommended that babies are weighed regularly to check their growth and development and to ensure they are receiving the right nutrition.

Clare Cooke, the Diocese of Exeter Children and Families Advisor, said, “I am so heartened churches are providing this facility as, due to COVID, many doctors surgeries are not offering baby weighing and many clinics have closed. 

“It can also be a real struggle to weigh a baby if you have a toddler in tow, so combining baby-weighing with a toddler group makes perfect sense.”

The church applied for funding to buy scales but was unsuccessful.

Instead, the scales were donated by a parent who had attended the church’s Begin Well antenatal support group and wanted to say thank you.

Clare Cooke recently visited the Alphington baby group and said “It was a real joy to see toddlers and their carers enjoying the church space.  These groups are real lifelines to new parents.  

“It was a real privilege to listen to their stories and hear how the church family was supporting them.” 

Begin Well is an antenatal course started 5 years ago by a Christian doctor and health worker in Bristol. 

They train churches to run free antenatal courses within the community. 

The course offers fact-based advice (not medical) and provides support to pregnant women and young mums.

Clare said, “In the Diocese of Exeter, as a result of seeing local services for pregnant women and their families being reduced (specifically for low income and no income families), we thought it vital to promote Begin Well in our churches across Devon. 

“Churches are beautifully placed to link parents-to-be with people and resources in their local community.  This support will assist families through all the challenges and joy having a new baby brings.”

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