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Outfitting Newborns in Need

March 3rd, 2017

The Work of Basically Babies 

By Shannon Stewart & Janet Wilson 

Imagine being a brand new parent without the resources to provide even the basics for your precious baby. Simply providing for yourself is often a day to day struggle and now you have one more mouth to feed. Wrapping your little one in whatever towels or rags you have access to, you carry on, wondering how you will get by, loving your newborn but unsure of the future. Every year in Edmonton, families with very little are welcoming newborn babies.  These families may be refugees from war-torn countries, who have come to Canada with no other family to offer emotional and financial support.  They may be single parents escaping abusive relationships, or women trying to get away from a life on the street.  These families may be homeless or they may be young teenagers who don’t have the help and support they desperately need. Their common factor, however, is a newborn combined with a situation of extreme need.

Regardless of the reasons for their situations, Basically Babies seeks to help these families welcome their babies with pride and dignity.  We welcome these newborn babies with the gift of a full year’s supply of baby clothes, toys, and blankets, in the form of a layette.  Our gifts are both practical and attractively packaged, and as such, they communicate the value of every new life.   We gather donations of new and gently used baby clothing, blankets, toys, books, and other baby supplies, and make them into a very special gift.  We could simply give each family a garbage bag full of used baby supplies, but we’ve been told that, “If you give someone cast-offs, they’ll feel like a cast-off.”  So instead we carefully choose the clothing that goes into each season-specific and colour-coordinated layette, then we stain-treat, mend, wash and iron every item so that each gift we give looks as new as it can possibly look. 

Each layette contains about 110 items including all the outfitting needs for each season of a baby’s first year. If we were to use entirely new items in our layettes, they would cost about $1300 each, but because we collect gently-used items, and we receive such amazing donations, we are able to create our layettes for a fraction of that price. We give through about 85 different non-profit organizations and health-care agencies in the community who are working with these families on an ongoing basis, and are aware of their particular situations. 

Started in 1994 by a group of young moms who recognized how fortunate they had been to have all they could need for their babies, and often much more, these women looked for a way to give back to our community. They began gathering baby clothes and toys and putting together what would become the very first layettes that were given to health care units and doctors offices in hopes that they would help someone who really needed a hand up at a difficult time. Now in 2017 this little grassroots beginning has grown into a well-structured and excellently organized charity whose mandate remains exactly the same: “outfitting newborns in need”.

This year Basically Babies will support nearly 800 families with the provision of a layette to assist those who otherwise would not be able to provide the basic outfitting needs of their newborns. We operate very efficiently through the assistance of supporters, sponsors and donors from the public.  We welcome donations of new and clean gently-used baby clothing (0-24months), shoes, toys, books, towels, blankets and other baby items. We also enthusiastically welcome donations of funding and of volunteer time. If you have been blessed with more than enough, why not consider giving back and helping to give a hand up to a family that needs it right now?

To learn more, visit , call 780-989-0180, or email .

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