True (Mom) Life: We Hired A Sleep Coach

One mom’s day-by-day account while using a coach to gently sleep train her baby

Context is everything when it comes to baby challenges. Some things just hit you harder than others. Sleep is my thing. Everything else we faced so far as new parents, I handled, to the best of my ability, with grace and patience. I accepted developmental milestones and understood they were both good signs and necessary. We weathered breastfeeding challenges with determination and optimism. But, take away my ability to rest, and remove my much-needed eight solid hours of daily self care at night, and the worst version of myself showed her face. Every little setback felt like a huge catastrophe, I was snappy, my moods could not be tempered, and to make matters worse, I was losing patience and lacked genuine energy to really be present with my baby during waking hours.

I knew something needed to change, but I had no idea where to start. When I became pregnant and did all the preparation I thought I needed to do, I hadn’t anticipated were all the theories, methods, and philosophies that just the first six months alone can entail. With each question asked of me by fellow parents (examples, just to name a few: “How do you feel about vaccines?” “When and how do you plan to introduce your baby to solids?” and the all-important “When will you sleep train? What method will you use?”), I felt a little more unprepared and overwhelmed. In short, I had no idea.

When my son’s sleep issues started to become more and more apparent, and I realized that I was losing too much of myself by waiting it out to see it improve (it also started to get worse), I told my partner it was time for some reinforcement.

Listen, I never even knew sleep coaches existed before having a child. I thought babies slept if you took care of their needs. Some better than others, but ultimately, the saying “Sleeping like a baby” suggested to me that it wouldn’t be a problem. Reality gave me something much more frightening, so much so, I’ll never use this expression. I did a lot of reading between December (when the sleep regression took hold) and March (when things got worse than I thought possible, and our sleep training attempts proved futile). I knew that cry it out was not for me, and likely going to be ineffective for my son (who showed me his tenacity when he cried for three hours when stuck in traffic on Thanksgiving). I knew that developmentally, I shouldn’t really start trying to train until he was six to six and a half months old. I knew that some, maybe even most, babies work it out by six months. When it got to be too much, I turned to a professional and a little over 15 days in, I can say with certainty that it was the smartest, and best, parenting decision we have made thus far.

Read below for my sleep-deprived account of our experience over the past two weeks with a sleep coach to help us get some zzz’s.

Day 1

Unofficially, we’ve been practicing the first part of our personalized sleep plan (see Disclaimer) for a few days before our launch to sleep training. Surprisingly, he’s taken to the initial adjustments fairly easily even though we didn’t really have a set routine in place while we were out of town for a few days.

Tonight was the first night of our sleep plan, but anyone who has had to execute a sleep plan or use a sleep coach may know that we really got our start from the moment he woke up this morning. That awake time sets a timer for me to plan our baby’s first nap, which is about 2 hours from wake time. Because I’ve been getting up 10-12 times in the night (I sh*t you not), my partner’s been taking on the early morning Daddy duties with baby while he gets ready for work This hour to two hours SUSTAINS me (I wasn’t able to do it the other day because he had to leave early and I about died).

The biggest hurdle during the daytime is making sure our son gets between three and three and a half hours of sleep, and that he gets a nap in within a three hour window before bedtime. He’s good about napping, but doesn’t nap too long. This means we need to find creative ways to get him to hit that three-hour nap goal. Today, it meant driving around for an hour while we did errands and timing it just right so there would be between 2 and 3 hours before bedtime.

A lot of math and time keeping is involved, I’m learning. Tonight, our math checked out. We managed to get him to sleep at bedtime without falling asleep on the breast also, which was another goal. Mission accomplished. He woke up for the first time an hour and ten minutes later, which means that progress is looking slow but, I’m feeling positive….for now.   

Day 2

I had to help our baby 14 times in the night to keep him sleeping in the nursery. 14 times over a 11 to 12 hour period! This has been the norm the past few weeks, hence the dire need for sleep coach. I told my partner this morning that, were it not for the sleep coach, I probably would be near nervous breakdown levels of panic. Instead, this morning, I’m feeling very optimistic. Dare I say, even, proud.

For starters, in the past, especially lately, I’ve been so tired that I fall asleep with the baby in my arms while nursing in bed. It doesn’t help that this has been the best way to ensure we both sleep longer than 40 minute stretches at night, sometimes even up to two hours. Of course, my whole body would be cramped and tense when I would wake up, we’d both be sweating, and yeah, SIDS risk, so I did not like the way I felt the next morning knowing I had done this multiple times in a night. Still, easier said than done in the moment, especially when the little one revolts with the strength and will power of 1000 men to ensure he is not placed on a surface but my arms in the middle of the night. He has more stamina than I in those wee hours. HE ALWAYS WINS.

Last night, he didn’t win (but ultimately, that is a win for us both….ah, parenting). I got creative, and my partner and I slept in the guest room right next to the nursery instead of our master bedroom, which is down the hall from the nursery. Proximity proved key. For every waking, I made sure to take my robe (so I wouldn’t be uncomfortable/freeze), and made myself sit in the rocker for feedings, which is a less comfortable sleeping apparatus for me. I used my phone to keep me alert, and am happy to report that he didn’t keep me up longer than 20 minutes. So, 14 wakings, but all under 20 minutes, made for a tolerable night shift.

Day 3

First, a quick report on the night. Eight wakings. Down from 14! Part of the reason though: three of those were over 30 minutes. One waking lasted 38 minutes (and felt like five hours). We had an unexpected breakthrough to top it off. Arlo found out about rolling over and sleeping on his tummy. I’ve been told by other moms that this was the only way their children learned to sleep through the night, but I was unsure Arlo would get there. Everything I read told me to wait until they did it on their own. Well, out of nowhere, he did it last night. He wouldn’t even let me put him down on his back, he’d be rolling as I lowered him down. I barely slept all night because I checked his monitor incessantly (and that’s even with the Owlet Sleep Sock), but I’m pretty excited.

Day 4

Today, the fatigue has returned or rather is taking its toll. My attempts to get our child to nap on schedule and at a reasonable length have been futile today. At 3 PM, I was feeling exhausted and that familiar dreadful defeated feeling as I rocked my baby in the nursery. I’ve developed a sort of PTSD-response whenever it’s time to put him to sleep. I have this slightly unsubstantiated fear that it is very possible he will just NOT go to sleep, ever, and I’ll be up for a full 12 to 24 hours with my baby wide awake but crying and fussy and me helpless. Eventually, falls asleep and the fear dissipates for at least 60 minutes.

We  deferred from our routine, and come 2:40 PM, I was feeling all sorts of regret, angst, and utter fear about that. By this time, he hadn’t slept more than an hour collectively in the day, meaning I needed to find a way to get him to sleep another two hours of day sleep to set him up for a successful bedtime. BUT I WAS SO TIRED.

Fast-forward to the evening, and we did it. We successfully had a two hour nap. I say “we” because I too slept on the floor of the nursery for the first hour and a half, before I brought him with me to the guest bed for a 30 minute siesta/dream feed. It worked and we got to log in our time.  

Today is the most tired I’ve been in at least a couple weeks, but at 9:38 PM, I feel renewed. Dad was able to get baby to sleep in 13 minutes! Tonight was the first night for Dad to be responsible for putting baby to bed, and that meant I needed to relinquish control for the first time. I set a 20 minute alarm for myself, before I’d go upstairs to wait and see if he needed help with the “drop” before starting to stream Amazon (to help drown out any fussing or tears). About ten minutes passed by and I turned on the monitor to get an update. Just as I did, I saw my hubs slowly lowering baby into the crib. Baby kicked once and then flopped over to his side, asleep. I WAS SO PROUD.

About 40 minutes later however, I heard the familiar stirs and groans that signaled a waking. I gathered my things downstairs and prepared myself mentally (still feeling positive about the easy bedtime execution). I hadn’t even left the living room when I realized that our child put himself back to sleep! I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER BEEN THIS PROUD. He fell asleep at 7:28 PM, it is now 9:42 PM. I can assure you, my son has not slept this long without needing one of us to go in the room in a month, maybe more. I don’t even know what to do with myself. Sleep. Go to sleep, woman.

Day 8

All weekend, I was looking forward to our first check-in call with our sleep coach. It happened today and for some reason, since the call, I’ve felt a little deflated. Things have gone so well that I was expecting to hear immense accolades. We were praised and told we were doing great, sure. But, we also were reminded that things might go backwards as our son is getting closer and closer to crawling. Teething is also just about to rear its ugly head, I can feel it. My husband is starting to show fatigue and now we’re moving ahead with cutting back feeds, which our sleep coach warned might mean increased wakings. Our end goal is to be able to put him down awake, but we’re not there yet. Until then, it’s just hang in and focus on the small changes. Today, that’s feeling just a little bit tougher.

There’s always a rainbow after a storm, and this evening, maybe a half hour after I said good night to my son, my partner came down from upstairs and quickly turned on the baby monitor. We both watched (me in mild horror) as my son rocked on hands and knees in the dark. “He’s still awake,” I told my husband. He was not supposed to leave him awake in the crib. That wasn’t part of the plan. “Go back up,” I told him. But then just as quickly, I realized that our baby was not making a peep. He was just rocking on his knees then plopping down on his belly. Up again and then plopping back down. He was trying to put himself to sleep, and this time, he didn’t feel the need to call out for help to do so. Sure enough, he succeeded on his own.

Day 9

This day was another special challenge for our family as I had a pre-planned commitment to go to Los Angeles for the day, not expecting to return until late into the night. I’d be gone at least 12 hours, which is the longest I’ve been away from our son. I wasn’t too worried about how Dad would handle things in my absence, but a little nervous about if my absence would increase wakings, reduce nap time, and essentially set back all our progress.

All that worrying made it easy for me to forget an essential part to my breast pump which made it impossible for me to pump while away. I was only able to hand express to relieve discomfort. After a brief panic, I calmed myself down. Luckily, things back home seemed to be going better.

I got short updates and some pictures and videos to inform their progress. I held back my impulse to tell my husband that bathtime was an hour later than we had discussed, which made dinner time and bedtime later than we normally do. Once I stepped away from my impulse to critique, I was filled with pride for both my boys. It might be nice to feel needed, but it’s almost a better feeling to know that things don’t crumble without you. My son adapted to the changes, was fine with Dad, and our sleep progress continued as normal in my absence.

Day 10

As I shared yesterday, being gone thankfully didn’t have any real impact on the progress we’ve made with sleep training. Once I was home and able to pump, I settled back into bed with enough time to feed my son for his 2nd/last feed of the night. How did he let me know everything was okay? He allowed us all to sleep in until 7:30 AM. We had to wake HIM up. What a nice change.

Now, I am about to have to go up and wake him again because he’s been napping for two hours! I’m also kicking myself for not sleeping when baby sleeps especially since I am running on only a couple solid hours of it from last night.

It’s been ten days today and looking back to when we first started, I am a little perplexed, a lot cautious, and also so proud to see that we’ve essentially gone from 10 to 14 wakings per night, all nursed to sleep and on-demand, to five to six wakings in total with two of those being scheduled feeds. Our son is sleeping in the crib pretty exclusively, and maybe only gives us a hard time once in the night.

We’re not done, maybe just a third to halfway through our plan, but for the first time in forever, I am feeling optimistic and hopeful that my son will be able to sleep well in the night, and that sleep for me, real sleep, is on the horizon.

Day 14

Last night was Day 2 of only one feeding per night. The first night was a little wonky because our baby woke up at 5:00 AM and did not want to go back to bed, which led to an early wake up and early nap and had me a little rattled. Last night, however, our son only had one waking around 10:30 PM. At 3 AM, I woke up a bit terrified. My husband was out of the bedroom and it was 3 in the morning and I hadn’t been woken up since that 10:30 PM waking. I checked the monitor and saw my husband sleeping on the floor next to the crib. My son was still sleeping. After a little while, I went in and decided to do a “dream feed” with my son to make sure he was able to sleep through to his 6:00 AM or later wake up time (I also woke my husband and told him to get his butt back to bed).

After that one feeding, my son slept in until 7:00 AM. He woke up and quietly played and cooed in the crib for a few minutes before we went to get him. I’m a bit awestruck just typing this.

Then, tonight, when my husband was getting him to bed at bedtime, he again was able to leave him in the crib awake but quiet and sleepy. He rocked a little on his knees, changed positions here and there, but eventually fell asleep on his own. I wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

Day 15

Our son had a night similar to the night before. Only one waking around 10 PM and another at 3:30 AM, with that 3:30 AM time his one scheduled feed. I find myself now feeling so much more positive, with a better outlook on sleep, hell, a better outlook on life and on parenting. Sure, who knows how long it will last before something else becomes challenging, but we have come out on the other side of a bad, long fog.

15 days. I keep telling myself that because it’s really quite remarkable to believe it myself. I’m sure it doesn’t always work this quickly for everyone. But, I’m also certain that it isn’t as necessary for a lot of people either. There’s really no way of knowing from an outside perspective. I will say this: back in December, my instincts told me that my son’s sleep issues would require more attention and professional help. I knew in my gut that he was not going to figure it out on his own. I hung in there until I felt he was ready to do it successfully. Still, even though I was optimistic, I wasn’t expecting this much progress so soon.

One other thing I didn’t expect was how much these 15 days improved my relationship with my partner, whom I have probably been unnecessarily hard on. I felt lost over how to get our son to sleep, but at the same time, I got frustrated with him when he appeared aloof or distressed about how to help me. Now, I see a new confidence forming in him as a parent and my trust in him has grown exponentially. Having someone coach us helped guide us, and now I rely on my husband more. He’s actually much better at handling calming down our son than I have ever been without offering the breast. As a family, we are enjoying the bedtime routine we’ve put into place and I no longer feel the mix of dread and relief when it’s time to get him to bed. To have so much change in such a short period of time still has me a bit nervous about things reverting back to what they were. But, even when that fear sets in, I remind myself that we now have the tools to help our son, and our son now knows too what he can do to get to sleep on his own. He’ll definitely still have moments throughout his childhood where he needs our help or comfort at night (we wouldn’t have it any other way), but now we can be more at ease about nurturing him during thought rough times without the fear of sacrificing months of sleep in the process.

If this was tl:dr for you, here’s a quick summation: our experience with a sleep coach was worth its weight in gold. We’re still not done, but the end is in sight when it comes to the training part of our son’s sleep journey. With these 15 days behind us, I am feeling much more restored having gained back precious hours each night of sleep, and we are equipped with a deeper knowledge of what our son needs and the person he is becoming.

For those of you debating whether or not it is time to pull the trigger and reach out to a sleep coach, I would wholeheartedly say, “DO IT!” If the fees are a concern, our sleep coach has workshops both online and in person that she offers, which can provide enough information to give sleep training on your own a try. Whatever you decide, don’t suffer alone, moms. Ask for help, but be careful where you get advice and how much. Though people have the best intentions, every baby is different and every household, schedule, and parent is different. Advice can only go so far if you don’t also find a way to tailor it to fit your child’s needs, your needs, and your family’s needs.

May the counting sheep, cow jumping over the moon, and twinkle little stars out there grace you fellow sleep-less parents with more sleep-filled nights than even your wildest dreams can imagine. Hang in there. One day, one day…  

Recommended Reading

The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy, by Kim West

Loved to Sleep: Nurture Your Baby to Sleep with Minimal to No Crying, by Jen Varela and Andrea Strang

Stroll into Springtime

Your North County Guide to Stroller-Friendly Ways to Enjoy Spring

If you’re not originally from Southern California, it probably is very difficult to convince you that we have more than one season. For the rest of us, we’re already feeling a change in the wind, the sky is more blue, wildflowers are popping up along the roadways. Breathe it in; March 20 marked the first day of Spring.

The short days are gone, that early morning pull-the-covers-over-your-head chill is fading away, and gone are all those other excuses we use to avoid braving the great (local) outdoors.   

Listen, we get it. You might be a new mama still recovering from childbirth, trying to take it easy. Or, you have your hands full with two under two and the idea of juggling multiple children outside the safety of your home is just too much to think about on such little sleep.

For those of you, baby steps might be the key. Even a short stroll up and down your street could work wonders. Start small. Ten minutes a day for one week will help you work your way up to 30 minutes and beyond. Every little bit, or every little step in this case, counts.

Once you get comfortable enough going out with your little one(s), you may run into a familiar problem — cabin fever. You’re finding any excuse to get out for a drive, run an errand, and inevitably, that often turns to more shopping, and more spending. Before you know it, you’re wondering if these little trips need to be factored into your monthly budget long term.

Doesn’t sound like you? Well, maybe you’re getting tired of your neighborhood walk, walking past the same houses, landmarks, and stop signs every day. You’re itching to get out, but motivation can get hard to come by. We’ve all been there.

You could also be new to the area, and now a new parent with a lot of time alone with a baby, and you’re not sure where’s the best place to go.

Consider our “Stroll into Springtime” Series as your one-stop solution. Every couple weeks, we’ll share with you a few North County spots you may not yet know about, or have forgotten about, that are baby-friendly, free (with some low cost options sprinkled in), and most importantly, outdoors and beautiful. What are you waiting for? Lace up those shoes, pack that stroller into the trunk, and let’s go!

 

Discovery Lake and Hills Loop (San Marcos, CA) – 0.8 mile loop

650 Foxhall Drive, San Marcos, CA 92078

Free & Stroller & Baby Carrier-Friendly

Discovery Lake has a bit of a “best kept secret” feel to it, but is becoming more and more popular — for good reason. This walking trail is the perfect way to integrate yourself back into the outdoor life for new moms. It’s also an ideal walking trail if you want to walk with anyone who can’t handle a hilly or uneven surface.

Tucked in the quiet Discovery neighborhood near Cal State San Marcos, this lake is surrounded by an 0.8 mile paved and relatively flat loop, making it a versatile walking trail. You can bring your dogs on leash, ride a bike, or walk with your little ones via baby carrier or stroller. The loop is just long enough to have a short walk, but short enough to go around a second or third time if you are up for it. The lake and surrounding overgrowth and trees provide shade and picturesque scenery to walk through. Even during high traffic times, the path is wide and long enough to not feel crowded. A little added bonus is the open access dock if you want to get closer to the lake, and a nearby (recently upgraded) park.   

This is also the perfect place to walk if you have multiple children to entertain while getting in your steps. A common sight is kids on scooters or bikes alongside their parents pushing strollers. There are scattered benches, some even a bit tucked away, that are the perfect places to stop and easily breastfeed. If you want to make an afternoon of it, the park has some open grassy areas and picnic tables where you can snack while the older kids play on the playground.

Calm, peaceful, easy. What more could you ask for? Not much, but if you are asking for something more adventurous, there are connecting trails surrounding the loop, to include a moderate uphill hike, Double Peak Trail.

Insider Tips:

  • Weekdays are the most quiet, with less foot traffic, especially if you plan to visit the park area.
  • Sometimes after a good rain or if its extra humid, this trail can get a little “buggy.”
  • The park itself has a small parking lot, but there is usually plenty of open street parking available.
  • Restrooms located next to the park, but they don’t usually have hand towels or dryers, so pack wipes (like we needed to tell you that) just in case.

 

San Diego Botanic Garden (Encinitas, CA)

230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024

Entrance & Parking Fee; Stroller & Baby Carrier-Friendly

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily (open every day except Christmas)

If you’re looking for a fun outing for kids of all ages (and adults for that matter), the San Diego Botanic Garden (SDBG) has all the makings of the perfect outdoor experience. Formerly known as the Quail Botanical Gardens, this garden features a diverse collection of plant life like you have never seen before. The 37-acre grounds are divided by 29 themed gardens, highlight regions from Africa to Hawaii, Australia to San Diego, and feature nearly 4,000 different species. There are some semi-steep hills to navigate as you make your way around the garden, as well as some dirt, unpaved trails you can also take, which will give you a little workout as you marvel at the beauty nature has to offer. All in all, the walking paths total about four miles!

The biggest selling point about this place is how kid-friendly and educational it can be. Kids have a special part of the garden just for them called the Hamilton Children’s Garden, which features Toni’s Tree House, a wonderful playground in the form of a tree-house that will sure to be a popular attraction for any active child. Garden Rhythms features musical instruments made out of natural materials that kids can use to make their own special melodies. There’s even a small mountain stream that kids can play with. The garden also has some boats and small toys around the stream. Just the other day, we caught sight of a couple children working together to build a dam out of blocks and other items at the stream site.

SDBG also has the Seeds of Wonder Children’s Garden located on the other end of the grounds that features all sorts of kid-friendly areas of play. They also put together a program for children that includes arts and crafts days, and preschool stories and songs depending on the day of the week. These activities are included with the admission price, or if you are an annual member.   

On top of being kid-friendly, this place is also mom-friendly. There are many different seated areas, and a few picnic style tables in the Hamilton Garden area and Seeds of Wonder Garden to rest, breastfeed, or have a nice snack or lunch comfortably.

SDBG’s mission is to “inspire people of all ages to connect with plants and nature.” It’s clear that they really take to heart the desire to reach people of all ages including our littlest humans. For adults, in addition to the intrinsic benefits of walking through such beautiful grounds, SDBG also hosts events year-round like their Chocolate Festival on May 12 and various classes on Sustainable Gardening and how to make a Vertical Living Wall, just to name a couple.

Insider Tips:

  • Even though this is a popular spot to visit, the vastness of the grounds makes it hard to ever feel crowded.
  • If you are a local, we strongly recommend considering a season pass. The family/dual pass covers admission for two adults and their children (and/or grandchildren) under age 18 in the household and costs $85 for the year, or $160 for two years. Membership offers many perks to include discounts on birthday parties and other events, discounts to the gift shop, free parking, two free guest passes per year, and more.
  • SDBG also has an upcoming special for Active Duty U.S. Military Personnel and families. From May 1, 2018 through Labor Day, September 3, 2018, they will be admitted FREE to the Gardens.  Another special is offered to San Diego County residents.
  • On the first Tuesday of every month, local residents get free admission with a photo ID (parking fee of $2 is still required).

 

Self Realization Fellowship Hermitage & Meditation Gardens (Encinitas, CA)

215 W. K Street (between 2nd and 3rd Streets)

Free & Baby Carrier-Friendly

Open Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Closed Monday

The name of the game this week is calm, easy and peaceful. The first two spots are just that. But, the Meditation Gardens in Encinitas might take the cake. This expedition, however, will not work too well with a stroller since the walkway includes areas with a few steps. Still, what better excuse to get more acquainted with your Solly Baby Wrap or Tula Baby Carrier?

The internationally renowned gardens offer a relaxing, yet awe-inducing kaleidoscope of plants and stunning ocean views. The tranquil grounds feature meditation nooks, koi ponds, and though the walking path is not very long at all, it is the perfect spot to take your time and cycle around as often as you’d like. Once you step foot into these gardens, you’ll appreciate moving a little slower and taking some time to breathe in the fresh ocean air.

Like the other two locations featured this week, this quiet place also has great shaded seating  where you can peacefully feed your baby or practice some quick meditating while your little one sleeps (IF they are sleeping, that is). While this may not be the most exciting spot for toddlers to spend a lot of time, it is generally a family-friendly location. Just be sure to respect the other guests, some of whom are trying to tune out noise and meditate to the sounds of the ocean.

One perk about the Meditation Gardens is that it is the closest location this week to a beach, Swami’s Beach. Something that sets Swami’s Beach apart from the rest is its tide pools. You’ll have to make sure to visit during low tide if you want to see fossil shells embedded in the hard rocky reef. You also might catch a glimpse of some sea hares, octopi, and brittle stars in the pools.  

Another noteworthy add-on to this trip? The gardens are within walking distance of downtown Encinitas and the 101. If you want to grab a bite to eat for breakfast or lunch in the area, this is a great stop before or after your walk, especially if you prefer vegan, farm to table, and healthy eating options.

Insider Tips:

  • Like most beautiful places in North County, this location can get a bit busy and more noisy on the weekends, especially afternoons. Weekdays and early mornings are best times to hit this spot.
  • Parking also becomes a little challenging during peak times, but there is free parking available along the 101 if you are willing to walk a block or two.
  • Don’t bring a stroller as there are stairs along the walking path at the Meditation Gardens.
Why BabyFest is the Easiest Parenting Decision You’ll Have to Make

It takes a village to raise a child, so the proverb goes. If you have been a parent for more than a minute, you would probably agree.

Parenting is hard. It’s difficulty often lies in the constant decision making that goes along with the territory. By some estimates, the average adult makes some 35,000 decisions per day. Adulting while parenting must increase that amount tenfold. From the moment you get that first positive pregnancy test, you have to be ready to make decisions regarding everything from prenatal testing to birth plans.

When it comes to preparing for labor, do you go with Hypnobabies, the Bradley Method, or are the classes offered at the hospital sufficient?

Do you want a more natural birth experience? Do you choose a birth center, or home birth? Can you still give birth in a hospital and get a comparable experience?

Should you get a doula? What does a doula do anyways?

What about saving the placenta? Should you try encapsulation? Is it safe? Did you know there are other ways to consume the placenta?

What is your opinion about delayed clamping, skin-to-skin, antibiotic eye ointment, and circumcision?

Are you interested in cord banking?

Once the baby arrives and you’re on your own, will you go with disposables or cloth?

Cloth? Okay, will you use all-in-one’s, prefolds, or inserts?

Will you wear your baby? Sling, wrap or carrier?

What about your stroller? There are like 1,000 to choose from at Target alone. They surely must be different from one another and have their own special feature, right? Why do they all look the same?

Don’t even get us started on car seats.

What will you do if you experience trouble breastfeeding? Do you know how to contact a lactation specialist? If you need to supplement, will you use donor milk or formula?

Did you get your breast pump already? Did you know your insurance should cover it? Why do you even need a breast pump? When do you start pumping? Do you even NEED to pump?

Trying to breastfeed but can’t get comfortable? Let’s get a nursing pillow…but which one?

When your baby is ready for solids (Wait, when is baby really ready for solids?), do you go with purées or baby-led weaning?

When it comes to self-soothing tools, pacifier or not? What about a lovie? To swaddle or not to swaddle?

Time for sleep training? Will you Ferber or Sleep Lady Shuffle? Why is everyone saying NO to cry it out? Why is everyone ELSE telling you to do cry it out?

Overwhelmed yet? Do you even know what everything referenced above is? Even if you do, you aren’t out of the clear. The decisions don’t end there.

Our generation of parents is both blessed and cursed with the endless amount of choice there is out there. Yelp doesn’t always cut it, and how much time do you really have to read and sift through Amazon reviews before clicking your wallet away? Furthermore, by now, you probably are well aware that the combination of baby plus Internet is a rabbit hole you DO NOT want to go down.

Sure, part of parenting is trial and error, but what about that village we mentioned in the beginning? Aren’t the people in your village there to help save some of that wasted “trial and error” time? Can’t we learn from their mistakes?

What does your village look like? Does it include your parents, partner, closest friends, siblings, cousins, and other neighborhood moms? Sure, they and more of your extended family are all vital parts of that ecosystem.

But why not also your local birth center, lactation specialists, yoga instructors, midwives, baby-wearing specialists, car seat experts, sleep coach, doulas and more? Imagine how amazing and functional that village looks.

This is why Baby Fest descends upon Babies in Bloom each year. Whether you are a new parent, just learned you are expecting, have a second (third or fourth on the way), or are an extended family member looking for a way to help some soon-to-be parents find their footing, the opportunity to explore all things BABY in one location over a six-hour period cannot be beat. As an attendant, you also get the added peace of mind in knowing that every product, expert, and service there is vetted by the Babies in Bloom team, and has received their seal of approval.

Doctors go to medical conferences. Teachers go to professional development seminars. Why shouldn’t parents attend their own expo to get up to speed on the latest and greatest resources, merchandise and services for their families?

Still not convinced? We hear there will be food trucks, prizes, and Babies in Bloom will be donating proceeds from the event to a great cause.

Expand your village Saturday, April 14. For more info, visit: http://www.babies-in-bloom.com/babyfest/

Fighting Flu Season With A Newborn

It seems that every other person who comes through our doors at the moment has a holiday cold or flu story. So many Christmases and New Years were ruined by snot, coughs, fevers, vomit and aches. Some of ours were too! Argh! It’s proving a rough winter…. and sadly it’s not over yet! With the kids now back in school, we all just seem to be waiting for round 2 to strike….(*crosses every finger and toe*)

Getting sick is no fun for anyone, but let’s be honest, as a parent of a little one, you’d face 20 flus back to back if it meant that your babies could escape it. Especially if they are in their early months. Small tiny bundles with their shiny new immune systems + a flu ridden season = high anxiety!

While it’s impossible to shield them from all germs, (it’s inevitable they will get a cold at some point!) there are still plenty of things you can do to try and keep trips to your doctor to a minimum this winter.

  • THE FIRST TWO MONTHS: If you can avoid crowded places during this time, then do! Not always easy if you have more than one kid and need to pick up, drop off, run errands etc. But the truth is, pre the first round of immunizations at two months, it’s better to be cautious and limit mass public exposure. If someone else offers to help you with your schedule, LET THEM! If you do venture out, try wearing the baby, as people are less inclined to coo closely when baby is attached to you.
  • JUST SAY NO – Everyone wants to come and meet the new baby in the early adorable weeks, and are working to their own busy schedules. BUT, don’t hold back in telling family and friends to wait. Especially if they have had anyone in their house struck with any bugs. Even if they promise just to pop in and have no cuddles….just say no!
  • KEEP ON NURSING – If you are choosing to breastfeed and are able, studies show that breastfeeding can help keep some winter bugs at bay. Even if you are sick yourself, keep nursing! Thank you magical milk antibodies – that extra line of defense can really make a difference!
  • SUDS AND SANITIZER- Plant hand wash, anti-bacterial wipes and sanitizer all over the house for you and guests to use – and keep extra in your car and purse should you need it on the go to clear up a sneaky sneeze, or wipe down a shopping cart, etc.
  • LOOK AFTER YOU – that ol’ chestnut or new motherhood myth! But in this case, it’s really true. Prioritize your own health, rest, and keep boosting your own immune system to try and fend off those unwelcome germs. If you do get struck with a bug (hugs from us), ADMIT DEFEAT! Don’t try to be a super hero and keep doing it all. Step back, accept help if offered – if possible pump your milk and have someone else take over the feeds – consider wearing a face mask, and avoid sharing any beds, pillows, blankets etc. until you have been symptom free for at least 5 days.

    Wishing we could wave a magic wand and get rid of all the yuck that is flying around, but the best we can do is wish you luck and send you all our positive vibes and energy for a happy, healthy 2018! Take care out there, guys!