Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Loving Lessons

Here is the follow-up to the post from last month about my recommendations for 'teaching' your newborns how to sleep.  I had the pleasure of meeting Irene Gouge, owner of Loving Lessons Pediatric Sleep Consulting and Educational Growth Center.  Irene is the answer to all those weary eyed parents out there who feel at a loss of how to improve their child's sleep- or lack there of!  From her experience as an educator she understands the importance of sleep and as a mother she realizes that sleep is learned and there are gentle, loving ways we can teach our children.


 Can you tell us a little about your business, Loving Lessons?   What inspired you to start Loving Lessons?

As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant with Loving Lessons, I support tired parents to help get sleep in place and empower parents with positive and gentle solutions to help their children transform their sleep habits, set children up for academic success while enjoying the parenting journey!  Loving Lessons is based on transitioning our parenting from fear based to love based.  It’s about building those loving connections to leave a legacy with our parenting for our children.  

My inspiration for Loving Lessons comes from my boys Connor and Bailey.  They taught me how important sleep really was, how different they were as children, and to respect and understand them for who they were and what they needed.  Prior to my consulting,  I was a  5th and 6th grade teacher- turned mom in 2006 to become a sleep deprived parent until 2009.  I decided to retire from teaching to do a home daycare so I could stay home with Connor and Bailey.   While taking care of my boys, 2.5 and 5 month old at the time, and a couple other children in my home daycare, I quickly realized staying home and being a mom wasn't all I had imagined it would be.

So once I learned about sleep for my 5 month old, which was sleeping from 6:30-6:30 with two, 2 hour naps, my life changed.   I was able to get 4 children down for naps at the same time which was heavenly.  I started to get sleep in place for my 3 year old too, but it wasn’t in place until I actually started my training with the Sleep Lady, Kim West.  It was during my training and consultation that I figured out what was missing, what I didn’t know about Connor and his sleep needs.   Once I discovered the secret and understood the science of sleep, it became my mission to share this with other families.  

 What specific services do you offer families looking for help sleep training their babies or children?

I offer personal sleep consultations for children ages 6 and younger where I come to the families home if they are in the local Raleigh area.  If they are not local I can accommodate families by doing our 2 hour session via Skype.   We create a personal sleep plan that will take the child’s temperament, parents’ parenting style, and schedules into consideration so we can figure out the best path to good sleep.  Clients have unlimited access to the  Client Resource area that guides and supports them step by step from sleepless to sleep filled nights.

                                                    What is your philosophy or style of sleep training?

This is always a hot topic in parenting.  Many parents do ask “Are you a cry-it-out proponent or family bed advocate? Do I have to stop breastfeeding to sleep coach my child, do I have to choose between two camps: co sleeping/no crying or crib/cry-it-out?”  You do not have to pick a camp; this isn’t about right or wrong. It’s about what is working for you and your family.  It’s about figuring out that just right approach to meet your families sleep goals.

    What specific advice can you give new or expectant parents who are trying to help their baby sleep longer?

The best thing you can do is observe your baby. Tune into what your baby is telling you.  Your baby is letting you know when they are hungry, sleepy, hurting, ready to play and engage or just content.   Be respectful to tune in and engage with your child.  If you are not sure what your baby is telling you, it might be an important step in connecting with a professional that could help you build that communication with your child. 

 What are the biggest mistakes or misinformation you see related to sleep training a baby?

There is a belief that sleep training involves leaving your child to cry it out and that’s it.  Sleep is very complex and we have to evaluate the entire sleep situation to figure out what might be holding you’re your child back from good sleep.  Leaving your child to cry it out is usually not the answer for majority of families. 

How can families get in touch with you to start the process of sleep training?

Families can get started by visiting my site http://loving-lessons.com/

You can also set up a free 15 minute phone consultation to see if sleep coaching would be the right step for your family.  https://www.timetrade.com/book/VX5T6

Fun Stuff
1.      Favorite vacation spot…Walt Disney World.

2.      Favorite restaurant…Cheesecake Factory

3.      Favorite movie…Love Actually

4.      Favorite weekend activity…is hanging out with my family. 

5.      Favorite book…Heaven is for Real

  I want to thank Irene for taking the time to share her business with us!  So, you may be wondering is it worth it to contact Irene for a consultation?  Well, check out what her clients are saying...

"Irene Gouge’s Loving Lessons saved me! I was running on fumes, averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night and wondering why my 7-week old daughter was simply miserable. She wouldn’t sleep for more than 2 hours at a time during the night or day (often times less) when Irene came over to help us. Her suggestions were tender, warm and incredibly useful! And if something wasn’t working for our family, she listened very well and gave us another idea. The best part was IT WORKED! The same night Irene came over for the first time, our daughter slept 4 hours straight and within 2 weeks she was sleeping as much as 6-8 hours straight into the night. Of course, things weren’t perfect because Dani was so young and her nap schedules were really rough for me and her. Whenever I called Irene, she was WONDERFUL, understanding and could sense my urgency and frustration. She calmed me down and let me know so stay the course and Dani would find her way with our guidance. She did! And just when Irene said she would. She’s nearly 6 months and sleeps sometimes as much as 13 hours straight thru the night, naps well and is a VERY happy baby. Because of Irene, I can happily spend more time with my toddler while the baby is sleeping, and my husband has since bonded with the baby so much better because both are far more rested and happy. I LOVE IRENE and her Loving Lessons. Oh, and she has fast become a friend to me, answering questions not only about Dani but about my 2-year old, when I just cannot find a solution on my own. She’s a tremendous person and resource and I would NOT hesitate to recommend Irene to ANY ONE OF MY FRIENDS!!!!!"

-Kristin & Brian, Holly Springs, NC

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sleep. What's that?

"You're pregnant....Congrats!  Better load up on your sleep now because once that baby comes..."

"Oh, your baby is adorable!  How is he sleeping for you?"

"Ugh, my newborn has her days and nights confused.  I was up all night!"

So, does any of that sound familiar?  If you are pregnant, have a baby, or know someone who does you have probably heard some variation of the quotes above.  Sleep, or lack of it, has to be one of the hottest topics of conversation with new parents followed closely by the bowel habits of their babies!  Most parents resign themselves to the fact that they have baby so that means they will not get a full, uninterrupted night of sleep for the next one, two years maybe.  I say that's nonsense!  It is possible for a baby to sleep through the night, even as young as three or four months.  Now of course every baby is different but every baby (excluding those that have some medical condition preventing it) is capable of sleeping through the night!  They just have to learn how to do it just like they learn how to roll over, sit up, and crawl.  As parents we have to provide the best possible environment for them to learn.  The problem is most new parents don't know how to do that- but they can learn too! 

I used to think my husband and I were just lucky.  Our first, Ella, was sleeping 8 hours straight by 3 months and then 12 hours straight by 4 months.  And yes, she was on breast milk.  Breast milk has the same caloric content as formula, so although it is digested easier, babies should not always need to eat more frequently at night just because they are breastfed.  We figured we were just blessed with an "easy" baby and surely the second would be up all night for months.  But to our amazement Keegan was the same, sleeping 12 hours by 4 months old.  And this was despite having major surgery at 3.5 months old to correct a cleft lip.  So we must have been doing something right!  Well, when I started reading more on sleep training I discovered that what we had done instinctively in those early days was exactly what was necessary for our babies to learn how to sleep.  My own children are proof that what is said in all those books does actually work!  And the best part is, none of it is hard!

1.  Routine, routine, routine
I can't say enough about the importance of a routine.  When you get ready for bed, don't you do basically the same thing every night leading up to falling asleep?  Your baby needs the same thing!  So start a bedtime routine as early as possible, even within the first few weeks.  Pick a late evening feeding as the "bedtime" feeding and then start a routine just prior.  Whether it is bath time, or a nightly massage with lotion, then change into pj's, turn the lights down, turn soft music or white noise on, then have a feeding.  Before long your baby will recognize the routine and begin to understand that it is bedtime!

2.  Nighttime feedings are all business
This is soooo important!  So, of course for the first few months your baby is going to need to wake up to eat throughout the night- there's just no way around that until they get bigger and are taking larger volumes.  But that doesn't mean that you have to be up for hours because of the feeding.  When your baby wakes up don't turn the lights on and don't engage with her.  Now this sounds mean, right.  But think about it.  If you wake up at 2 am to pee do you turn all the lights on and start a conversation with your significant other?  Of course not!  You don't want your baby to learn to expect 2 am play time from you.  You want her to learn that it is time to eat and then go back to sleep.  So keep a night light on, change her diaper, re-swaddle her, feed her, and then put her back in her crib (or where ever she sleeps).

3.  Sleep swaddled
I am a huge advocate of swaddling!  Both of my babies slept swaddled- day and night- until they were around 5 months old.  Swaddling prevents babies from startling themselves awake.  Babies have very short sleep cycles so they go into REM (active) sleep every 1-2 hours whereas adults only do 1-2 times a night.  When babies start getting active in their sleep they are more likely to elicit their Moro reflex, aka the startle reflex, and wake themselves up.  If a baby is swaddled with their arms down, yes I said arms down!, this prevents them from startling.  According to Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the Happiest Baby on the Block, swaddling alone can increase the sleep time between feedings by one hour.  Swaddling also keeps a baby warm and feeling secure which reminds them of being in the womb so they stay calm and relaxed.

4.  Allow swings and bouncy seats
It is okay if your newborn only sleeps well in the swing or bouncy seat!  Isn't that better than you having to hold them all night?  You shouldn't expect your baby to be able to sleep unassisted right out of the gate.  The swing and bouncy seat help recreate the environment that your baby is used to- the womb.  The swing and bouncy provide constant movement as well as an inclined position, both things newborns prefer.  So, let your baby vibrate or swing all night (make sure to strap her in!).  By the time she is 3-4 months old she will have learned how to sleep so you can then transition her seamlessly to her crib.

5.  Use white noise
Not all babies need white noise to stay asleep but many babies love it.  There are plenty of adults out there who rely on their white noise machines or apps to sleep, so why not a baby?  Again, white noise helps recreate the environment in the womb.  Inside the womb your baby heard a constant whooshing noise comparable to the decibel level of a vacuum cleaner yet when she is born we expect her to sleep in a quiet room!  So put a white noise machine next to her crib or use a swing that has a sound feature. 

So, that's it!  Not rocket science right?  That's just it, it isn't hard or complicated.  It's just all about creating the right sleep environment so your baby can learn to sleep.  As your baby outgrows the nutritional need for nighttime feedings she will naturally sleep longer because you have taught her how!

Okay, now I realize that despite their best efforts, helping their baby learn to sleep is not easy for all parents.  But don't worry.  There are plenty of professionals out there who can help you get on the right track and start sleeping more!  And if you feel like you are getting into this whole sleep training thing too late, say you have a 9 month old who still wakes 2-3 times a night or a toddler that won't stay in his bed.  Don't fret.  There is help for that too!  It is never too late to teach your baby or child how to sleep!  Stay tuned for my next blog post which will feature Irene Gouge, owner of Loving Lessons Pediatric Sleep Consulting and Educational Growth Center.  Contact Raleigh Baby Planner if you'd like more information on creating the perfect sleep environment for your little one or little one to be!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lets be honest. It's not always easy.

Four years ago I never would have imagined I would be where I am today, helping Moms and babies breastfeed.  See, four years ago I was struggling to breastfeed my newborn daughter.  When I was pregnant I had visions of spending my maternity leave cuddling with my new baby and of course breastfeeding.  Little did I know how hard it would be.  I will never forget sitting on the bed in our guest bedroom and crying out of frustration and feeling completely helpless as my baby girl screamed and cried as I tried to latch her on.  From there I spent six weeks enduring excruciatingly painful feedings that lasted an hour or more.  This wasn't how it was supposed to be!  So, why didn't I get help?  I did!  I had a lactation consultant come to my home.  She spent over an hour with us.  She helped me latch my daughter.  She said everything looked great but then we weighed her she hadn't gained any weight!  What was going on?  Well, we figured it out- we meaning my husband and I.  My daughter was tongue-tied.  Why hadn't anyone- our pediatrician, the lactation consultant, the nurses in the hospital- why hadn't anyone noticed this?  We got it clipped, but it was too late.  I was beyond frustrated and my daughter had been latching the wrong way for so long I just didn't have the energy to fix it at that point.  So, I pumped.  For seven months I pumped.

I was determined that when I had my second child it would be different.  I had learned from my experience with my daughter and believed it wouldn't, couldn't happen again.  My son was born with a cleft lip but thankfully it did not affect his ability to latch.  And you better believe one of the first things I did was check if he was tongue-tied!  So, things were going well but then my milk came in.  And man did it come in.  Suddenly my sweet little boy was crazy fussy, before and after feedings.  I was at my wits end!  Was he not getting enough or was he getting too much?  I was so confused.  Was this really happening again?  So, I pumped and I didn't stop for seven months.

So I am now a lactation consultant who didn't actually breastfeed her own children!  Ironic, right?  I think it has given me a unique perspective.  I know first hand how painful, challenging, and exhausting breastfeeding can be.  I have been there.  But as a lactation consultant I also know it doesn't have to be that way, it shouldn't be that way.  New Mom's need and deserve the right information and support so they can have a successful experience.  Although breastfeeding is natural it doesn't always come naturally.  I don't want any new Mom to struggle like I did.  There is nothing more rewarding than helping a Mom learn to feed her baby.

So, if I have a third baby will I breastfeed?  Of course.  Third times a charm, right!?

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Must-Not-Haves

Where has the time gone?  Can it possibly be November already?  So, this post is way overdue!  At the beginning of October I talked about what I consider to be the top registry must-have items.  Then a few weeks ago I highlighted SmartMomma, a local baby store who specializes in custom registry design.  What happens if you aren't fortunate enough to work with a baby planner or a baby gear expert who can steer you in the right direction?  Well, most people will rely on recommendations from friends and family, which of course is fine.  But, unfortunately what ends up happening is you registry for items you don't need, don't want, or ones that are just plain useless!  This means you end up wasting your money or the poor sole's money who bought the useless item as a gift.  Below I've listed what I consider to be the Top 5 Must-Not-Haves when it comes to registry items.  Now, this is of course a matter of opinion and some people find these items useful, so don't get offended if you see a favorite on the list!

1.  Baby Wipe Warmer

This has got to be one of the most frivolous items you can put on a registry!  Yes, wipes are cold and having a warm one would be nice, but is it really necessary?  Trust me, your baby is going to cry regardless of the temperature of the wipe.  And think about it from a logistical standpoint.  If you have a two story house are you going to run upstairs to get the warm wipes if you are downstairs changing a diaper?  And what about when you travel?  Do you take the warmer with you?  Although, they do now have a travel warmer for the diaper bag!  Okay, if you need to have tons of extra items on your registry to accomodate all the showers you will have, then go ahead and get the warmer.  But for the average parent...save you money!

2.  Bottle Warmer

This is sort of in the same category as the wipe warmer.  It's not really necessary and in fact most babies will drink cold milk if it is given to them!  I understand the safety aspect of them- it prevents people from putting bottles in microwaves and unevenly heating or overheating the milk.  But guess what, a large plastic cup with warm water in it works just as well! 

3.  Diaper Specific Trash Can

I'm referring to all those magic cans that claim to seal up the odor to prevent your whole nursery from smelling like spoiled diapers.  Speaking from personal experience they just don't work that well.  We had one, a high end one at that, and our bathroom constantly stunk of old urine and we didn't dare put a poopy diaper in it!  From what I have found they either don't work, they require special bags, or they are impossible for the poor babysitter or grandparent to figure out how to use!  Just stick the pee diapers in the kitchen trash which likely goes outside every couple of days and stick the poopy diapers outside- problem solved!

4.  High Chair

Okay, bear with me here!  This is a stretch for a lot of people.  You assume that you have a baby, so now you will have a giant, space hogging high chair in your kitchen- right?  Again, not necessary.  So, when your baby is just learning and practicing with solid foods, before they are able to sit independently, the bouncey seat is a great place for meals.  Of course, never put them on a counter or table and always make sure they are strapped in!  Then when they are a little more steady in the sitting position move them to a portable booster seat.  They are lightweight, strap onto one of your kitchen chairs, and they can travel anywhere.  They are also way easier to clean than a traditional high chair- just throw them into the bathtub and let them soak!

5.  Blankets, and hats, and booties oh my!

Do you need this stuff- yes.  Do you need to register for it- no.  Trust me when I say you will get more blankets, hats, socks, and bibs then you will know what to do with!  So, don't bother putting any of it on your registry.  What you should put on there are swaddle blankets- see previous blog post.  And if you are buying gifts for an expectant couple, resist the urge to buy this stuff.  I had a client recently who received a pile of blankets that stood a few feet tall.  How many blankets does one little baby need!?  And to make matters worse, she didn't actually get the items on her registry that she needed.

So, this is just a few of what I consider to be unnecessary baby items.  There are many more out there though!  What item did you find useless?

Monday, October 8, 2012

SmartMomma "Parenthood made simple"

Last week I posted a blog about what I consider to be baby registry must-haves, so I thought it was only appropriate to highlight a local baby store this week.  SmartMomma is known by many in the Raleigh area as a super cute baby store where you can find really unique gifts.  But, it is so much more than that.  Yes, they do carry incredible merchandise but they also offer one-on-one registry design- at no cost!  If you are looking for help with your baby registry you can set up a registry consult with Raleigh Baby Planner so we can do a lifestyle assessment to decide what gear you need and don't need.  Then you can head over to SmartMomma where the gear experts will help you decide among the different brands, colors, and styles to create a registry unique to your needs.  They also offer a huge variety of classes for every stage of pregnancy and parenthood.  In fact Raleigh Baby Planner teaches two workshops a month at SmartMomma- writing a birth plan and developing a postpartum plan.  Check out the interview below from SmartMomma owner Heather Burns to learn more about the store and what they have to offer.

What inspired you to open Smart Momma and how did you come up with the name? 
"I was one of those moms that researched everything when I got pregnant with my first child.  I was also the one in the office that loved to buy the baby gifts for everyone.  I love the excitement of pregnancy and the birth of something (or someone) new.  I wanted to help new moms find the best and most useful products for them, and help them cut through all the clutter out there.  I came up with the name, because I wanted to help a new mom become a SmartMomma.  A SmartMomma is educated about pregnancy, birth and motherhood, and that is also why we do so many classes, in addition to selling smart products."

 What services do you provide for you customers- what makes you different from the average baby superstore? 
"As I mentioned, we have tons of classes for pregnancy, baby, and toddler.  We also work personally with the new parent, guiding them and asking them questions about their own lifestyle to help them choose the best product for them.  We frequently demo strollers, car seats, and baby carriers, and offer that personal shopping experience without the high price tag.  We also make it simple for the parent, by only carrying those products we truly believe are good quality AND useful."

Tell us a little about your registry services. 
"Our registry is completely online OR can be done in the store.  We encourage you and your partner to make an appointment with us, so that you have our undivided attention.  We will walk the aisles with you to help you select what is best for your lifestyle.  What we don’t do is leave you guessing on what to add to your registry.  If you would rather do it on your own, you are also welcome to do that, but what people really love about our store is the personal service they get when they register.  We offer free shipping over $50, free in-store pickup if you order online.  Also, we have a rewards program where for every $500 you spend with us, you get a $40 store credit reward.  This applies to registry purchases from your friends & family too!"

What are your top-five ‘must-haves’ for a registry?
"Infant Car seat, baby sling or carrier, stroller, diaper bag, and a high quality mattress"

What are you seeing as the latest trends in baby gear and products? 
"In car seats, it’s all about safety.  There are some exciting innovative products coming out that feature crumple technology and high quality memory foam seating.  In strollers, its all about easy folding, the opportunity to add double seating, and stability.  As for furniture, it seems that simple is making a comeback.  Also seeing a lot of gray for decorating nurseries."

 What advice can you give working Moms like yourself- juggling family and career? 
"When you come home, be present for your kids.  As soon as I get home, I find myself wanting to get on my tablet or smartphone, and I have to make myself stop and enjoy my children.  Time goes so fast, and I can’t believe my first baby is nine.  I didn’t believe it would happen so fast when I had my first child, but they don’t stay babies for very long.  I now have my third (and last) baby.  She is 9 months old and I am trying to cherish every moment with her as a baby, because I know it is fleeting."


Fun Facts

Favorite Food/Restaurant- Sushi and Pizza
Favorite Way to Relax- Snuggling on the couch with my kids
Favorite Vacation Spot- Without kids: Jamaica,  With Kids:  Holden Beach
Favorite Song or Band- Coldplay & Katie Perry right now
Favorite Book- The Hunger Games
Heather, thank you so much for sharing with us!  Smart Momma lives up to their motto- "Parenthood made simple."  They are a one stop shop where you can find great education about pregnancy, babies, and parenting; you can design your dream nursery; or you can set up a customized baby registry.  And on top of all that they have a great staff who are wonderful to work with.  To learn more about the store's merchandise or class offerings visit Smart Momma's website.
Smart Momma
8601-A Glenwood Ave.  Raleigh, NC 27617
Stay tuned for the next blog post- Registry Must-not-haves!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"What baby products do I really need?"

Wow, I can't believe it has been over a month since my last blog post!  And I said I would never have one of those blogs that goes weeks and months without a post :)  September is always a crazy month in our house with both kiddos birthdays, our wedding anniversary, and beach trips- who has time for work!

I guess it is time to get back into the groove but I figured I'd start off with something fun- registry advice!  Registrying for a baby can be a lot of fun but many couples find it incredibly overwhelming and frustrating.  If you haven't been to a baby superstore lately, check one out.  It is a wonder anyone can decide what they need or want.  In fact when you go to set up a registry they warn you not to even attempt to complete it in one day!  It really is insane how many baby products are on the market and even more crazy how fast they are changing- who could possibly keep up!  Well, I don't claim to be a product expert by any means, but I can make some suggestions about what products you may need and more importantly what ones you don't need.  Of course everyone's lifestyle is different, but there are a few products that I believe are absolute musts for any new parent.  We all know there are obvious things you will need like a car seat, crib, or stroller but below is a list of the top five must- haves that are beyond the basics.

Swaddle blanket
This is hands down one of the best baby products you can buy!  The swaddle blanket is essential for soothing a fussy baby and helping babies sleep longer.  Yes, I said sleep longer!  Swaddling a baby helps them feel secure and prevents them from startling themselves awake.  In fact, swaddling is considered the cornerstone of the five S's from Dr. Harvey Karp's best-selling book The Happiest Baby on the Block.  There are so many swaddle blankets on the market, but my personal favorite is the SwaddleMe by Summer Infant which I lovingly refer to as the swaddle blanket for dummies- it really is that easy!

Breastfeeding Pillow 
So we all know that breastfeeding is best, but it is not always easy and does not always come naturally.  Having a great pillow to help you position your baby and support you while you and your baby are learning to breastfeed is so important.  And trust me, not all breastfeeding pillows are created equal!  Why can't you just use pillows?  I promise that if you use My Brest Friend just once you will never ask that question again.  This pillow stays where you need it to be so you can perfectly position your baby (or babies!) and provides back support so you can be as comfortable as possible.  Yes, it has a funny name and it costs a little more than other pillows, but I promise it is so worth it!

Baby Carrier
Even if you don't plan on adopting a baby wearing lifestyle or following attachment parenting, an infant carrier can be indispensable.  Babies love to be held but most parents don't have the luxury of being able to sit on the couch and hold their little one for hours every day.  Having a carrier allows you to hold your baby while getting housework done, running errands, or going on walks.  More importantly carriers help soothe babies, increase their sleep, facilitate breastfeeding, and increase the infant-parent bond.  There are a ton of carriers on the market and they are all very different.  Some smaller baby stores will allow you to try the different carriers and slings with your baby so you can see which one works the best for you.  There are also classes to learn how to safely 'wear' your baby.

Fragrance Free Skin Products
Baby skin is very sensitive but unfortunately many of the skin products for babies are loaded with fragrances that can irritate them.  These products smell so nice and some of them even claim they will help a baby fall asleep (don't know how true that is!), but all those smell-good chemicals are not good for newborn skin.  The truth is newborns don't need frequent bathing, they don't need soap, and they don't really need lotion.  But, if and when you do use soap and lotion you should look for fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products.  Again, the market is loaded with great baby skin products so register for a few different brands and see which ones you love the most.

Rectal Thermometer
Ok, so my last recommendation is less than glamorous!  But a rectal thermometer is essential for at least the first year of your baby's life.  When it comes to taking your baby's temperature you have to go old school.  Nevermind all the new high-tech gadgets on the market for temperature taking.  They will never be as accurate or reliable as a good old fashioned rectal thermometer.  Now many parents are scared of taking a rectal temperature- they don't want to hurt their baby!  But rest assured that the rectal thermometers on the market these days have safety features to make sure they can't be inserted too far.
Obviously there are many other great products that can help new parents but these are some that are I find useful and essential.  As a baby planner I can help expectant parents navigate the world of baby gear to help you develop a registry that is perfect for your family and lifestyle.  Check in next week and I will feature a local baby store that specializes in personalized registry design.  Later in the month I will have my top five list of the must-have-nots!  What are your favorite baby products?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Family Paws

I had the pleasure of meeting with Jennifer Shryock, a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and owner of Family Paws.  Family Paws is an internationally recognized business that educates and supports new and expectant families with dogs.  Jennifer, a mother of four, developed the programs at Family Paws after they adopted their first German Shepherd rescue dog years ago.  She saw dogs that were being abandoned in desperation by new parents because they did not understand how to prepare themselves and their dogs for a new baby.  Family Paws has two programs- Dogs and Storks for expectant families and the Dog and Baby Connection for new families with babies over 3 months old.  Family Paws has trained, certified educators throughout the U.S., Canada, and even China.  Family Paws has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, television, radio, and most recently the July issue of Martha Stewart's LIVING magazine!  The best part is this fabulous service and passionate educator is located right here in Cary!

What inspired you to start Family Paws?

   Dog rescue!  I saw so many dogs surrendered due to the arrival of a baby.  Many families had fears or became overwhelmed once a baby arrived.  I felt there needed to be more resources out there. 

What is the goal/mission of your programs? 

   To promote safety in families with dogs.  Offering education and support to increase safety and success while decreasing parent’s stress!

What local programs and services do you offer?   

  We offer local new parent classes and private consultations.  The baby bundle is perfect for expecting families!

What is your philosophy or approach to dog training?

    I believe that dogs need to enjoy their relationship with their people.  Learning should be fun for both dog and the people. We use science based methods that offer rewards and positive outcomes for both dog and people.  We only use dog and baby friendly techniques…meaning anything we teach is safe to implement in front of children. No harsh methods or tools used.

What resources do you have available to expectant families or families with young children? 

   We educate families about the many tools that are helpful such as indoor tethers, KONG toys, and proper equipment.  We also help our families to know of baby related resources in the area. 

Can you provide a couple of key pointers you give to families when they are preparing their dog for a new baby?   

1.      Decrease attention seeking behaviors NOW!  Behaviors that will not be safe or appreciated once a new baby arrives.  Ex:  barking, whining or dropping soggy tennis ball in your lap.  The more you can decrease these behaviors now the less likely you will be frustrated by them once baby arrives.
2.     Firm up basic manners.  Using manners as fun and games is helpful once a baby arrives.  The more commands your dog is successful with the more you can safely and comfortably include them once baby arrives.
3.   Become familiar with dog body language.  Visit www.doggonesafe.com to learn more.


Fun Favorites
Favorite Food-  Banana’s fosters from Winston’s grille!    Or good philly cheesesteak
Favorite Place to Vacation- Beach or mountains
Favorite Way to Relax- audio books or walk in woods
Favorite Song/Artist- Bon Jovi, U2
Favorite Color- lavendar

Thank you so much for sharing your business with us!  You can learn more about Family Paws at www.familypaws.com