Tuesday Introduction: Family Care Doulas

I am excited to introduce you to a friend of mine, Jennifer Levinson, who owns Family Care Doulas! I know your first question may be “what is a doula?” (a little hint: it comes from the Greek word meaning “mother’s helper”). But not to worry as Jennifer answers that for us as well as gives some great advice to other moms who are thinking about starting their own business! Jennifer is the mom to two adorable little boys and you really feel her caring personality from the minute you meet her.

  • What exactly does a postpartum doula do and how is it different than other doulas?

A postpartum doula typically comes into the family’s home to help support them through the transition of the postpartum period. The doula offers informational, emotional, and resource support during this time, as well as feeding support. Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household chores; such as dishes, laundry, and organizing. There is also a birth doula, but their support is for the labor process

  • What inspired you to start Family Care Doulas?

I started Family Care Doulas 3 years ago. I had worked for a Doula agency before I went out on my own. I had just had my second son and felt like it was time to move on. The reason I became a postpartum doula was as a pay it forward for all the support and help I had from doulas with my first son. I had many challenges breast feeding, difficult labor and delivery, and emotional ups and downs, but my doulas were there for me.

  • What are your qualifications or certifications?

I am a Postpartum Certified Doula, PCD(DONA) and a Certified Lactation Counselor, CLC. I also have a masters in early education.

  • What about for our Moms of Multiples…do you you provide support for multiples?

I have been so lucky to work with over a handful of moms with multiples. I love working with families of multiples, there is just something so special about the twin connection!

  • What does your daily schedule look like?

My typical day could look like this:

Wake up
Get kids ready
School- drop off
Pick up school

However, a typically work day is 3-4 hours a few days a week, sometimes lasting only a week and others lasting months. It all depends on when the mom feels confident enough to do it on her own.

  • Do you have any advice to a mom that wants to start her own business?

My advice for a mom looking to start her own business is to make sure you have great child are and or family that can help. I would not be able to do what I do if I didn’t have my sitter or my parents around. They truly are my life savers. I have a job that I love, 2 boys of my own and my husband, lots of doctors appointment for my oldest son, and I try to get to the gym everyday! The gym is my outlet and my way of staying active and healthy. It really is like a third job!

Make sure you check out Jennifer at FamilyCareDoulas.com!

Happy Intros! xoxo, Julie


This time it’s personal – Multiplicity Magazine!

In case you missed yesterday’s Facebook post, I am SO thrilled to be featured as a contributing author for the Spring Issue of Multiplicity magazine. Multiplicity is a publication for families of multiples that includes content on subjects related to beauty, pregnancy, parenting, culture, education, health, nutrition, shopping, savings, etc. Even if you don’t have multiples there is content that all families will find useful. Check out page 20 for a personal story about my twins!

The last 24 hours since the article went live have been surprisingly emotional for me. This story is my life as I have lived it for 2 1/2 years but it isn’t one that I have always been very open about. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t avoid the subject and I don’t try to hide the fact that my twins have congenital heart defects but it isn’t something I offer up for conversation. I have received so many kinds words, beautiful emails and offers for prayer and support since the article went live. I am realizing I simply wasn’t ready until now to be so open and honest about our story and to hear those words. I feel blessed to be able to reach so many people and raise awareness for CHD. Of course, I also don’t mind being able to brag about my amazing kids and their untouchable strength. ūüôā I truly thank each person who read this story, shared this story, wrote me a message or email to share their story or to say thank you for sharing mine.

My commitment is to continue to share our story as our journey moves forward. It is part of what I do naturally with BabyNav…you can’t live with two kids with major medical issues and not be organized and have systems for everything. I love to work with people and share my knowledge through these experiences to help their lives be a little more stress free. And to help you connect a little more as I share our story – Baby A is the owner of those beautiful blue eyes on my home page. That picture is there because to me he is such a symbol of joy, beauty and strength.

And I would be remiss to not mention two very important people that have been my rocks through it all, my husband and my three year old son! My husband has held me up so many times when I thought I would fall and called me out when my control issues got a little crazy. My three year old son can look into my eyes and tell me he loves me and I truly know everything is going to be okay.

Again, thank you for your kinds words, love and support. This won’t be the last you hear from us!

Happy Reading! xoxo, Julie

Baby Gear: Fashion meets Function

Walk the aisles of any baby store and you will be surprised how much baby gear has changed in recent years. Gone are the days when everything had one function and the design was an after-thought that wasn’t given much thought beyond two options – for a boy or for a girl. It seems like every day we learn of a new company or a new product that is multi-functional, grows with a child and looks beautiful. There are entire lines of baby furniture and gear that I would be pleased to have out in our home for guests to see. And moms with stroller-envy and diaper-bag jealousy are as common at a playground as Goldfish. The one downsize to all this baby gear that is designed with superior functionality and equally fashionable is deciding which gear to buy! To get you started, check out these two companies that are doing a fabulous job at combining fashion and function.

The first is Boon¬†and their entire line that is innovative and designed for the modern mom all while being affordable. Did I mention they also give 10% of all their profits to children’s charities! There is one piece from their line of feeding products that I am currently a little obsessed with called the Wrap.¬†This beautiful piece of soft material fits around a standard bowl to protect it and the suction cup on the bottom keeps the bowl in place.

The Wrap is recommended for all ages so I put that to the test. I had a girlfriend over with a baby still in stage 1 foods and she fed the baby out of a piece of my china inside the Wrap. My 2 year old twins who still have a fascination with throwing things off my dining table love it. My 3 year old loves to use the Wrap for his morning cereal and asks for it by saying he wants to eat out of the ocean. All this use and not one broken dish..not even one close call. I really enjoy the option to feed little ones (or allow bigger ones to feed themselves) out of a bowl that isn’t plastic. And the best part is when you are ready for bowls, instead buying multiple packs of dinosaur/daisy/baseball/butterfly bowls, you can buy just a few wraps and use the dishware you have today. Babies love the bright colors and you will love that you won’t have to hide them in the “kid” cabinet while you entertain.

The second is Quinny who offers modern strollers that will definitely make you the envy of your Mommy group! When I got to check out their newest stroller, the Moodd, I was so excited….the assembly was so smooth that I knew the ride would be great. Not only does the Moodd look amazing and modern but it grows perfectly with your child and it is easy to use…truly a complete stroller.

The most unique feature on the Moodd is that it can completely unfold itself automatically thanks to its hydraulic system. It is also very easy to fold with the push of one button making it ideal for the on-the-go mom or dad! Everything about this stroller makes for a more comfortable ride for your baby. The ultra comfy seat can be installed in either forward or rear-facing and can be used from birth when combined with a Maxi-Cosi Mico infant car seat or Quinny Dreami bassinet. There are also pneumatic tires to ensure a smooth ride. The Moodd doesn’t skimp on any feature and the stroller can be enjoyed for children up to age 4 (maximum 50 lbs). My focus group of three gave it 6 thumbs up….everyone went for a ride around the house and after each ride I easily changed from the bassinet to the rear facing seat to forward facing for my big guy. And for all your fashionistas out there, the Moodd comes in 7 amazing color combos!

Whether purchasing a¬†bowl, a stroller or any other piece of baby gear that you will use everyday don’t settle for function alone. Check back for more reviews on more gear that fulfills our need for fashion and function.

Happy Shopping! xoxo, Julie

7 Things While You Wait

The nursery is stocked and organized, the layette has all been washed, the car seat is installed, your bag is packed…and you have 3 weeks left before your due date. Instead of watching the clock go by, check out this list of 7 to-dos to pass the time!

1. Start your baby book! There are plenty of sections that can be completed before baby’s arrival. If the standard printed baby book isn’t for you, check out these apps…

Ourkids: Family Journal, Memory & Baby Book. This app is very basic and won’t replace your baby book but it will allow you to capture events along with an attached photo and will even track the event location using your GPS. Later you can take the notes and put them into your book. $2.99

Sweet Baby. This app is also basic but if cutting, gluing and stickers just aren’t your thing you can use this to replace the traditional baby book. It allows for multiple books and you can upload videos as well as photos. Free

2. Cook and freeze 3 meals. There are some basics like don’t try to freeze fruits, veggies, dairy or pasta as they can change texture (yuck). But since you have some time on your hands, do some research on the “Easy Freezer Meals Method”…reading it reminds me of extreme couponing but there are great tips on meals that will actually be tasty once thawed.

3. Take nursery stocking and organization one step further. Pack your diaper bag for the first outing, sterilize the pacifiers, take the seal off the diaper cream, etc. Look for all these little items that you can do now to reduce frustration later.

4. Pre-write the text, Facebook post, email, tweet, etc that you want your husband/partner to send to friends and family.

5. Finish any thank you notes left over from your shower and start the next round. Take a simple pack of 12 note cards and write your return address and stamp them. You can fill in the details as you get gifts later.

6. Select your announcements. You won’t have hours to pour over Tiny Prints, Etsy or Minted once the baby arrives but now you can take your time and narrow down the announcements you love.

7. You stocked up for baby but did you stock up for you? Head to your favorite wholesale club and stock up on paper towels, toilet paper and other household basics! If shopping out and about is getting tough head to Amazon.com. While you are there check out AmazonMom where you can get exclusive discounts and savings on diapers and other baby care basics.

Oh…and of course RELAX! Happy Waiting!

xoxo, Julie

Adventures in Diapering Part#2

I am happy to report that we have made it through the holidays and through two stomach bugs and we are still happily in cloth diapers. (Okay…so we are in cloth diapers part time but I have a perfectly good explanation!) I really started on this adventure with the idea that I wanted to fully understand cloth diapering, find the best way to be organized and the best system to pass onto our BabyNav moms. In that, I think “twin B” and I have been successful…we have found the system that works for us. Unfortunately, that does mean that Monday through Friday afternoon she is still in disposables and over the weekend she is in her gDiapers. Our kids are in daycare through the week and NY state does not allow cloth diapers…not even hybrids with a disposable insert. (tip#1 – whether daycare, nanny or other make sure you understand where your childcare provider stands on cloth diapers before making your decision to go this route). We started on the gDiapers hybrid system with cloth inserts but found ourselves on the go so much on the weekends that I have really relied on the disposable inserts. Either way, I feel good that we are putting less waste out for mother earth to deal with! I have to say that the biggest advantage for us has been a decrease in the number of diaper rashes and when she does get one they aren’t as severe (even with the disposable inserts). We even gave “twin A” a weekend in cloth when he got a bad diaper rash and it seemed to clear quicker than other rashes. So here are few more tips on making your decision and making your diapering, happy diapering!

tip#2 – EDUCATE yourself. There are so many options out there now for cloth! Will you go with Prefolds, a Hybrid system, or All-In-Ones? Any of these options also include options for some great fashions so make sure you check out a variety of brands.

tip#3 – EDUCATE yourself (seeing the theme?). If you would like to go to cloth for sustainability reasons make sure you account for the increased water and electrical usage from the laundry or fuel from using a diaper service. That is one reason we feel great about the gDiapers disposable inserts….they are plastic free, 100% biodegradable, compostable and flushable.

tip#4 – If you go with cloth, an organized (almost) daily laundry system is a must from the beginning.

We are headed toward potty training (a whole different adventure) but plan to continue our adventures in cloth diapering with gDiapers until then! Good luck and happy diapering!

xoxo, Julie

Adventures in Diapering Part #1

My oldest son wore Pampers and we loved them and never thought twice about it. My twins came along when he was only 19 months old and it was like Pampers in newborn size had just always been sitting there waiting for their arrival. We still loved them but when I started to get a little more sleep I started to think about them a little bit. I was at that time putting approx. 26-30 diapers a day into my Diaper Genie (a MUST have by the way). I was reading more and more about cloth diapers and more and more moms started asking about them but honestly, Pampers were such a no-brainer part of our routine that I was nervous to look elsewhere.

My oldest took to potty training like a champ (thanks to a large wall of reward stickers) and he was out of diapers by 24 months. But around that time, my daughter started having diaper rash and then more diaper rash. We had our cocktail of changing and drying and creams but it always seemed to come back. Still having a bit of guilt about the number of diapers we were sending out the door, I decided it was time to give cloth diapers a try.

I was so lucky to get to meet the founder of gDiapers (www.gDiapers.com) at the ABC Kids Expo along with two of her diaper therapists and learn more about their system of cloth diapers. I was so impressed with this company and their products….it is clear they truly believe in what they are doing! So it was settled, I was going to try ‘twin B’ in cloth diapers. I was really excited to receive my box of starter goodies, complete with adorable pants, inserts and disposable liners. In fact, too excited and I didn’t follow the directions which clearly told me to wash the liners 6 times to ensure absorbency before the first use. The pants were so cute that after one wash I decided there was no harm in giving them a try. Lesson #1 – follow directions! We had a leak and I decided I should finish the set up of my system correctly so back she went to Pampers. But…I was determined to make this work so after 5 more easy washes I organized everything I needed in the nursery and ensured the diaper bag was stocked. We now have one adorable tushy in some adorable pants and we feel like we are doing more for the future of Mother Earth.

Check back next month to see how we are doing in cloth and get some tips and tricks on making cloth diapering a success for your family!

xoxo, Julie

Don’t be afraid of…

No, not the dark. The Grocery Store! The grocery store is actually a great family outing and can be a fun learning experience for babies and toddlers. Heading to the grocery can even be a good choice for the first few outings for a new baby. Make sure you have a packed diaper bag, a travel changing pad, your nursing cover or the next bottle and of course your shopping list (or you iPhone/iPad with the Grocery iQ app loaded). You can keep your baby cozy and away from germs by keeping him in his infant car seat. However, I know it is tempting but don’t prop the baby up in the child seat of the shopping cart….instead you push one cart with the baby and have your husband grab a second for the food. No matter your baby’s age, he will enjoy the different lights, faces and colors that he gets to experience each week. Once you have a baby that sits up we recommend a shopping cart cover that covers all sides of the seat and includes a safety strap (check out Balboa Baby). Go for style and skip anything with toys…instead keep baby busy by describing all the great colors and textures in the produce section, letting him peak at the lobsters and snuggling in the frozen food section.

Worried about bringing your older children with a new baby? Give him a job depending on his age….older kids can do anything from holding the list to actually loading and uloading the cart. You can keep everyone engaged and get a little help along the way!

Happy Shopping! xoxo, Julie

Meal Planning Made Easy

Do you find yourself driving home each night wondering what you are going to make for dinner? Or do you spend Saturdays staring at meat defrost knowing you are going to end up with take out again? Or my favorite, do you attempt to throw some unplanned meal together in 20 minutes and get aggravated when no one eats it or guilty when they do and you know it isn’t very nutritious? This can be solved with one inexpensive office supply – a white board! Spend 30 minutes the night before you go grocery shopping and plan out each meal for the next week. This will also help you make an accurate grocery list if you can create that at the same time. If your little one is eating purees this still works…just put a star next to the foods you want to puree from your meal or give baby their own line on the board and plan their jars out.

Planning your meals out for the week and hanging the menu where the whole family can see (hint: Dad can help get dinner started when his late meeting gets canceled) will save you time, take away some stress, ensure you are offering a balanced diet and might even save you a few dollars. Happy Planning!

xoxo, Julie

Wow – we’re impressed!

BabyNav?√°is back and getting settled after our visit to the ABC Kids Expo and we must say we were impressed! So many products that are?√°going to be?√°available soon are going to do what exactly our moms have been asking for – combining fashion with function!?√°We spent a lot of time playing with car seats and strollers that weigh less, have more?√°safety features and look better?√°than what was available at this time last year. We also?√°found many products?√°that we are excited to get on our?√°moms’ registries that will save them time and make their lives a little easier.?√°We came home hoping to make a top?√°10?√°list from the show and?√°it turned into our top?√°20.

Be on the watch for some sneak peaks and first hand reviews coming soon!

xoxo, Julie

BabyNav goes on a road trip!

We are so thrilled to be in Westchester helping some amazing families get organized and fully prepared for the arrival of their baby (or should we say babies in some cases) but now we are?√°headed out on a road trip. BabyNav will be?√°packing up for the weekend and?√°going?√°to the bluegrass state for the ABC Kids Expo. There, we will be on the hunt for the latest and greatest in strollers, car seats, feeding gear, travel accessories, toys and just about any other type of baby gear you can think of. We will see what there is to offer in organics and new products but of course we will have an eye out for the gear that can make our moms’ lives a little easier so there is more time to focus on their babies!

Please let us know if there is a brand or product that you want us to check out!

xoxo, Julie