A Love Letter To Nannies: Thank You For Loving Our Kids

Thanks to Sarah Tucker at Mom.me for this poignant piece on the impact that nannies can have on the families they work with. As the kids get ready to go back to school, there is no better time to enlist the help of an experienced and professional nanny. British American will help find the perfect fit for your family.


"We don't have to hire someone tomorrow," said my husband, gesturing at the local parents website with posts for available nannies on his computer, "But we do have to start looking."

I hugged our three-month-old daughter a little bit more tightly as I nodded at him, miserably. I was in one of the emotional black holes of new motherhood, which I'm pretty sure never ends: guilt vs. exhaustion. A huge part of me ached at the idea of being separated from our baby and leaving her with someone who wasn't a family member—so basically a total stranger! And yet, another small but undeniable part was yearning to return to my work as a writer, if only for a few days a week.

The idea of another person caring for my child, comforting her when she cried, learning her rhythms, being there to witness the new personality and skills she was acquiring every day, while I was absent and missing out, sent a knife-like guilt and pain shooting through my chest. But I knew I had to find a way to recharge my own batteries, to reconnect with my career path, and to bring in the extra income that was important to my family.

I knew my position was exceptionally privileged. The lack of legal and social support for parents in the US, including maternity/paternity leave policies, means that millions of women are forced to return to full-time work to support their families, often only a few weeks after giving birth.

Many others enjoy going back to fulfilling work and relish the socializing benefits that daycare and other childcare options provide for their babies. But I was looking for some kind of middle ground. While I was deeply grateful to have been able to spend the first few months of my daughter's life with her and wanted to continue as her primary caregiver, being a stay-at-home-mom full-time was not an option for me both financially and personally. And unfortunately, my husband and I didn't have a single family member within 2,500 miles who might have been able to help out.

Still, I stalled and hesitated for as long as possible. I was filled with fears about two equally awful fantasy scenarios. 1) That my daughter would hate the nanny, and I would never feel comfortable leaving them alone. Not helpful. 2) That my daughter would love the nanny and end up essentially preferring her to me. Not cool at all!

Nannies also seemed slightly mysterious to me. The playground across the street from our house was filled with nannies, skillfully caring for one, two, even three children at a time. They all seemed to know each other, and they settled in packs at the sand box or by the swings, gathering on blankets for group snack picnics.

In the beginning, I had made a few overtures, saying hello when I arrived with my stroller, attempting to chat with whoever was watching the toddlers who came over to investigate my daughter. But I was generally met with a wall of silence. It was like they were some kind of nanny mafia, and I was invading their territory. Or maybe that nannies and parents were on opposing teams, and I was sitting in the wrong section. I hadn't felt so excluded since a rough month in the sixth grade.

When finally, I couldn't avoid the issue any longer, we started interviewing. There was the nanny who wanted nothing to do with breastfeeding, and insisted that she couldn't care for a baby without being able to use a bottle. We parted ways. There was the one who was in school full-time and could only offer us a few hours a week in between classes. There were highly experienced nannies whose rates were beyond our means, and nannies without much experience who made me a little nervous. And then there was Jacinta. And from the moment she walked in and picked up my daughter, I was pretty sure we were going to be okay.

A mom friend who was searching for a nanny recently asked me what makes Jacinta so amazing, and I tried very hard to come up with a concrete list of reasons:

She is responsible, reliable, and incredibly smart—a natural problem solver.

She is deeply loving and sweet with our daughter without ever making us feel replaced or superfluous as parents.

She is very knowledgeable about babies, having worked with many families over a decade of nannying. (This means that when I completely freak out about something my daughter is doing, she is calm and has seen it all before.)

However, she believes every baby is different and really took the time to get to know our daughter's personality and our parenting style without imposing any ideas.

And then I ran out of reasons, because the rest is just a gut feeling. I trust Jacinta absolutely. She's an ally, a friend, a support, a parenting partner. Living so far away from my husband's family and my own, she has become a part of our little family. We are so grateful to have her in our lives.

With Jacinta's stamp of approval, the nanny mafia has gradually come to accept my presence. A few of them even smile and say hello when I show up at the playground, although they refuse to say my name and always refer to me as "Isabel's Mom." When I asked Jacinta about this, she tried to explain.

"They're afraid," she said. "They think you might report them for doing something wrong." I was stunned.

"Report them?! I don't even know any of those families. And it's none of my business. And they all seem so good at this. I have no idea how they handle all those kids."

Jacinta smiled. "That's what I told them. Don't worry, they'll come around."

"Do you talk to other parents in the playground?" I asked.

"Of course," she said. "I talk to everyone. How else can I make sure that person should really be there?"

Last month, one of the little girls from the playground moved with her family to another state. Her nanny Elena was one of the friendlier ones, who always talked to my daughter and invited her to play with them. A week later, I noticed Elena sitting on a bench, surrounded by her friends. She was in tears. I timidly approached the group and asked if she was okay.

"I miss Nora so much," Elena choked out. "I've been with her since she was a week old. I can't believe I won't see her anymore." She sobbed with grief.

"This is what it's like," another nanny said with sympathy. "We love them. And then they go."

All I can say is thank you to all the loving, dedicated nannies out there. Thank you for giving our kids so much of yourselves, knowing that someday, sooner or later, they won't need you anymore, and they will go. Thank you for being friends and heroes to so many moms who feel lost, confused and alone. Thank you.

Why Prenatal Yoga is Amazing for You and Your Baby


Many thanks go out to Carriage House Birth and Neelu Shruti, a prenatal/ postnatal yoga teacher, birth doula and breastfeeding counselor based in New York City, for this introduction to the many benefits of prenatal yoga.

The benefits of yoga are far-reaching. In an hour of downward facing dogs, sun salutations, and other poses, we can find ways to build strength and flexibility while releasing stress and becoming more mindful. While we can all find benefits in the practice of yoga, there are exceptional benefits to the practice for pregnant women. The prenatal yoga sequence is modified to be safe, and designed to help a woman in all stages of her pregnancy, give her tools to aid in labor and delivery, and continue to be valuable to her after the birth of her child and throughout her recovery.

The benefits of prenatal yoga are too numerous to list, but to name a few, you’ll:

Get a good workout: Exercise is great for you and your baby! Whether you’re a regular runner, spin cyclist, or yogi, keeping up your active lifestyle can be more challenging when you’re pregnant. For starters, your tendons and ligaments become a lot more flexible during pregnancy due to the influx of relaxin in your body, and you’ll want to build muscular strength to prevent injuries. Prenatal yoga offers all of the benefits of maintaining your exercise routine (including helping to reduce stress, control weight, improve health and well-being, maintain a positive mood, boost energy, and get better sleep) while being safe for you and your baby. And if you’re not an exercise junkie, or have let your routine slip a little, now is a great time to start because the healthier you are and the better shape you’re in, the better it is for your baby! There’s even evidence, according to recent studies (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/mothers-exercise-may-boost-babys-brain/), that exercising regularly when you’re pregnant can boost your baby’s brain function and make your baby smarter!

Strengthen your abdominal pushing muscles and learn to relax your pelvic floor: Another incredible benefit to prenatal yoga is that incorporated into the sequence are targeted exercises to help strengthen, and improve flexibility in key muscle groups. Doing crunches and plank is neither very comfortable, nor recommended when you’re pregnant, and prenatal yoga offers an excellent alternatives to tone your transverse abs (your deep corset pushing muscles) in a safe manner. Additionally, prenatal yoga targets the key muscle group known as the pelvic floor. The importance of both strength and flexibility in the muscles of the pelvic floor cannot be overstated. The pelvic floor muscles are hammock shaped muscles in the bowl of your pelvis. It is essential that they are strong enough to allow the baby’s head to rotate when descending to push out (like through a turtle neck sweater), and to prevent pelvic organ prolapse, but also that they are flexible enough to open and release to allow the baby through. Labor involves the unique combination of flexing and pushing with your abs while RELAXING your pelvis which can be tricky, and prenatal yoga incorporates ab work, Kegels, and breathing exercises, all of which can help accomplish this challenging balance during delivery. Not only are you learning how to target those areas, you’re learning how to synchronize them, while building strength and flexibility where you’ll need them most.

Learn to deal with discomfort: The therapeutic benefits of yoga are far-reaching. Prenatal yoga can help address common issues such a lumbar lordosis (lower back pain), sacro-iliac pain, sciatica and piriformis pain. The poses can also create space in the torso for better breathing, and include movements that can help to alleviate carpel tunnel syndrome and charley horses, as well as demonstrate positions for better sleep. By working through discomfort with breathing techniques and a focus on mindfulness, you are able to alleviate discomfort, and the practice of challenging yourself and building muscle strength builds your tolerance to pain. In prenatal yoga, the poses are designed to challenge, but not strain your body. Learning to breathe and maintain calm in an intense stretch teaches your body how to react to and manage a stress, so you’ll be better-equipped to handle stressful situations during your pregnancy, and of course, more prepared for labor.

Get your baby in the optimal position: Compared to the benefits of other forms of exercise, the really exceptional benefit of prenatal yoga, is that poses like down dog, cat/cow, and puppy pose gently guide your baby’s head down. That’s right, the more down dogs you do, the more you’re encouraging your baby’s head down toward optimal fetal position. Prenatal yoga counteracts the long periods of hanging out on your couch—which have the exact opposite effect and can encourage breech or posterior (sunny-side-up babies) and result in longer births times and sometimes lead to medical interventions—and helps have you and your baby exactly where you need to be when the time comes.

Learn to breathe: Often, we don’t pay attention to our breath which tends to be shallow as we go about our day-to-day activities. In yoga, we begin to pay attention to our breath, and to teach ourselves to focus on maintaining deep, full breathing. The benefit of the yogic breath is that we become aware of our diaphragm’s movements and begin to use our lungs to a greater extent, engaging their full capacity and allowing a larger intake of oxygen. This focused method of deep breathing calms our mind and allows us to relax and use our muscles more efficiently.

Bond with your baby: Recent studies have shown that the practice of mindfulness allows a mom to recognize, appreciate, and connect with her baby. Embracing a few minutes of quiet time where the distractions of the day fade away allows a mom to focus all of her attention inward and on the baby, and can help her to zoom out, see the big picture, and be less bogged down by the day-to-day frustrations. It also allows her to notice changes in the growing baby and in her own body. The practice of mindfulness builds bond and can even reduce post-partum depression.

Build confidence in your body: When dealing with a growing belly, hormonal changes, back pain, swollen feet, and constantly having to pee, it’s easy to get frustrated with the constant physical changes in your body. It’s important to remember that your body (even with all the discomfort you feel) is strong, healthy, and capable. Practicing yoga—whether it’s finishing your regular sequence, or doing a particularly challenging pose when you’re pregnant—can give you great feeling of accomplishment, and build your confidence and trust in your body and its innate ability to labor and give birth.

Be part of a community: The first few minutes of a prenatal class usually consist of introductions where you’ll be able to discuss issues, discomforts, and concerns with other expecting moms. As the conversation goes around the room, you’ll hear how other moms are dealing with the same issues that you’re facing. This creates a space for sharing and learning from each other, and also allows the instructor to customize each class to fit your needs. Most of all, you’ll meet other moms who are experiencing the same challenging, wonderful changes as you, while pursuing a practice that helps ensure the safest, healthiest, and most joyful outcome for you and your baby.

For more information on prenatal yoga classes, our friends at Love Child Yoga offer classes and workshops for new & expecting mothers.

Family Living Aboard


Thanks to Brooke Morton at Yachting Magazine for this piece on the art of rearing kids on the water. 


Brittany and Scott Meyer were docked at Grenada when they learned she was pregnant. The pair, 36 and 38, had met while racing sailboats across Lake Michigan, so they didn’t blink at the prospect of raising a family aboard their Brewer 44 Asante. They became parents first with Isla, now almost 4, and later with twins Haven and Mira, now 2. With their handmade halyard swing and the unending sandbox that is the British Virgin Islands, the couple sees their decision to bring up all three babies aboard as the ultimate adventurous-life head start.

When did you decide to pull anchor from mainstream life? We knew before we married. Instead of registering for china and Egyptian cotton, we registered for winches and a windlass.

How did your cruising plans change after you had children? Long-distance sailing with three young children is not something we’re interested in. With Isla, we did a five-day sail from Florida to the Bahamas, and that was absolutely doable. But with three kids under 5, rough passages and overnights are really challenging.

Did you undertake any refits to accommodate the kids? We didn’t make permanent changes, but we added a few things, starting with netting around the boat’s perimeter. In the V-berth, we have a giant net made out of Phifertex mesh, the same material patio furniture is made of. The material is waterproof but breathable, and the net makes that space more contained than a crib. We’ve had 6-foot seas bashing into us and the babies sleeping soundly in there.

What’s the response been to your parenting choice? Some people think it’s amazing. Some say it’s selfish.

Selfish? Oh gosh, yes. Because of Brittany’s blog, Windtraveler, we get a ton of email. One lady asked how dare we glamorize boating with children and said we should add a safety disclaimer. She also criticized us for placing the kids on tethers. And Brittany wondered, Don’t most moms use car seats? Some people think we are at sea endlessly, and that is not the case. We spend a great deal of time at the dock at Tortola’s Nanny Cay marina.

What is a typical day like? Most days, the wind is blowing 20 knots. During the evenings, we come back from the beach, hose the kids off and eat dinner. Whatever the girls don’t finish on their plate, they throw overboard to the remoras — they’re squealing as they toss mac and cheese to fish that are going nuts. Then the sun starts to set and the kids wave goodbye. That’s one of the beautiful parts of life on a boat: You rarely miss a sunset. We always say to the sun, “Thanks for another great day.”

Baby Boating Gear: The Fisher-Price Booster Seat is great for keeping little ones restrained while we’re setting anchor. The West Marine infant harness and tether keep us from worrying about a baby going overboard. And Brittany is a big fan of baby wearing. The Ergo Performance baby carrier makes it easy to tote two — one on her front and one on her back — to the dinghy, dock and beyond.

Must-Have Toys: Everything has to pull double duty, like the girls’ wagon also carries boat stuff. As for toys, it’s all about size. Most need to be really compact. Legos are good. We love Magna-Tiles, a magnetic building set that stows flat. And books are crucial. We always make room for more books.

Packing Kids For A Trip: Tips & Tricks


Special thanks to Eva Amurri Martino at Happily Eva After for this perfect piece that will help you be more than prepared for your last family trip before fall hits.

Last week, while packing Marlowe for our annual family getaway to Maine, I was reflecting upon all the lessons I’ve learned in the last year from packing and unpacking our daughter countless times.  We really do “get up and go” A LOT as a family– having a Daddy who’s gone half the week will do that to you! I’ve noticed that as long as you take your packing mistakes in stride and learn from them, you really can cut down on your stress level and pack the perfect suitcase for your little one fairly easily.  And, if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: being prepared in advance makes all the difference when it comes to enjoying an experience.  You want a vacation to really feel like one! Today I’m sharing my Tips & Tricks for packing your child’s suitcase– and divulging some of my worst experiences!

I’ve outlined my personal packing list below.  This is what I pack Marlowe for a week long Summer trip! Read through for my favorite items,  my organization tips, little anecdotes, and a easy shopping widget to pick up some of our family faves:

For a week, I pack Marlowe 9 outfits, 4 sets of Pajamas, and 3 Bathing Suits. This is considering the fact that we will have access to a laundry machine.  The times that we do not have access to a laundry machine, I pack two outfits per day that we are gone, plus 1 basic Tshirt and 1 basic pair of leggings that can pair with anything, in addition to the pajamas and bathing suits.

MAMA TIP:  Fold each outfit, and roll it up together.  Tie with a piece of ribbon, and clip any matching hair accessories on to the cloth.  This will enable you to pack them more easily, and find a clean outfit without rummaging through your child’s suitcase.

In the Summer months, I pack Marlowe 1 light jacket and 1 cardigan.  Usually I bring her cardigan on the plane with us in case the air conditioning is too chilly.

Normally, I pack Marlowe 4 pairs of shoes total: 1 pair of comfy sneakers, 1 pair of cute sandals, 1 pair of Mary Janes, and 1 Water Shoe for the beach or lake.  I usually have her travel in the bulkiest pair of shoes (sneakers) for the plane flights.

I pack 1 package of diapers, 1 package of swim diapers, and 1 package of wipes.  I purchase anything additional that I need while on the road.  I pack a toiletries bag just for Marlowe that has diaper ointment, a soap/shampoo, a body lotion, her hairbrush, her toothbrush + toothpaste, hair ties, and a bottle of children’s sunblock

I always, always, always pack at least 3 Loveys.  One with us on the plane (this becomes the “street Lovey” and is the one that gets dragged around during the day, and at least two additional.  One for night time that remains in her travel crib (and stays clean), and one backup. I learned this the hard way…

NIGHTMARE TALE: Not too long ago, Marlowe got a violent stomach bug while on a trip to visit her grandparents in South Carolina.  She puked all over both of her Loveys within half an hour, and was absolutely inconsolable and miserable while the Loveys went through the washer and dryer for the next 90 minutes.  It took years off of my life.  Now I always pack at least three in case of emergency!

When we travel, I always pack 5-7 Toys and 5 books.  The toys include a stuffed animal, a doll, a car or truck, and several plastic animal figurines.  I like these types of toys because they inspire creative play and can be used in different games for hours on end.  I can’t even tell you how many times Marlowe and I have built forts and homes in Hotel Rooms for her animal friends!

MAMA TIP:  Try to select toys and books that your child hasn’t played with or seen in a while.  It’s amazing how absence really does make the heart grow fonder when it comes to toys!

I’ve learned to pack a little first aid kit when we travel with Marlowe.   You really never know when something will come up and you won’t have access to a medicine or product you need to help your child be more comfortable! Why do the worst fevers and illnesses always strike at night?! I put the kit in a ziploc bag so I can see all of the items well and access them easily.  Here’s what I keep in our Travel First Aid Kit: The NoseFrida, Infant Tylenol, Infant Benadryl, Homeopathic Cold Remedy, Saline Drops, Band aids, Neosporin, Lavender Essential Oil, On Guard Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential oil, Thermometer.

NIGHTMARE TALE: When Marlowe was only a year and a half, we were traveling with Kyle on the road in the middle of winter, and she came down with croup.  Not only did we not know any doctors in the town, but it was the middle of the night and we were staying at a hotel in a snowstorm.  We ended up having to take an Uber at midnight to a 24 hour CVS very far away to find medicine to make her more comfortable until the morning when we were able to get to urgent care.  Now I travel with the essentials!

I always pack 3 or 4 gallon sized Ziplock bags when we travel.  You never know what they’ll come in handy for, and are great for wet or dirty clothes that you need to bring home.  Kids always love taking that extra dip in the Hotel pool right before you pack up to leave…

The bed time routine is definitely the most important in our house.  It’s what keeps Lowie sleeping well, keeps her parents sane, and keeps our trips and vacations feeling “vacation-y”.  I ALWAYS make sure we have everything we need to recreate her normal nighttime experience while on the road.  Do it or suffer the consequences! Ha! For Marlowe’s bed time routine, I pack:

1 Travel Crib (she isn’t allowed to sleep in bed with us ever), 1 Sound Machine, 2 Sleep Sacks (one backup), 1 Mermaid Doll, 1 Baby Monitor, 1 Bottle. We use the baby monitor if we are at a house or someplace where her sleeping area is out of earshot.  It makes me able to relax more knowing I can hear her if she needs me, even if I’m in a different part of the house. We bring the bottle because Marlowe still has warm milk in a bottle at night before bed.  I’m planning on transitioning out of this when she turns two…which should be interesting… (YIKES)

NIGHTMARE TALE: We were traveling six or seven months ago, and I forgot to pack a bottle.  Cut to 9pm, my kid is still not asleep and freaking out because she didn’t have her bottle before bed.  The next day I set out to try to find a bottle but the only ones available had the infant flow nipples and frustrated her even more.  All in all a really terrible few nights of sleep for all of us! Yahtzee!

I have also learned this the hard way when our suitcase has gotten lost with all of my child’s perfectly packed and organized belongings.  Many thanks to Target for saving the day that day (about a thousand dollars later…) Now I bring a carry-on on the plane with us that has 24 hours worth of essentials.
1 swimsuit
1 change of clothes
1 set of pajamas
1 sleepsack
1 lovey
1 bottle
6 extra diapers

Of course I always remember to pack my adorable toddler as well.  She’s a little bulky and rambunctious, but she really does make our trips that much more enjoyable…most of the time.

8 Reasons You Need a Housekeeper

Thanks to Ilene Jacobs at Care.com for this piece:

If you've ever debated hiring a housekeeper, you might have come up with a list of reasons why you shouldn't: it's a luxury you can't afford or it's a sign of laziness. But have you ever thought about why you should?

Outsourcing your house cleaning is a way to manage your time more efficiently and it can be affordable, even for those on a tight budget.

Whether you're busy with a family and career, or just want some occasional help around the house, getting a cleaning service is not only practical, it be a lifesaver. Here are some valid reasons you may need to hire some help.

You Work Full Time 
After a busy 9-5, using your time off from work to clean the house depletes your energy and limits your availability to enjoy other activities. You might not need a daily housekeeper, but having someone clean once or twice a month will give you more time to do the things you enjoy or need get done.

Jennifer Thomas, a clinical psychologist and single mom from Minneapolis, Minn. says that without the help of her housekeeper, she would get less done and get much less sleep: "I have a housekeeper to free up my limited time to do important activities with my son and also take care of myself: doing yoga, walking outside, reading and spending time with friends and family."

You Have a Busy Family Life 
It's hard to find time or energy for family outings and date nights when you spend your time cleaning, cooking and taking care of your children. If your schedule is already overwhelming, keeping the house in order becomes a daunting task that can take a toll on your marriage, as well as your health.

Author Melanie Bowden from Davis, Calif., has her hands full between writing, teaching and being a mother of two. Housework was the main issue she and her husband fought over. "I felt very frazzled when I had to keep up with all of the cleaning without outside help and I grew resentful toward my husband that he wasn't doing more," she says. Hiring a housekeeper not only lowered her stress level, but also kept her marriage intact. "I just love coming home to a clean house on those days -- particularly when the bed sheets have been changed -- that's my favorite part," she adds. According to Bowden, having a housekeeper is a valuable time-management tool that everyone should consider.

You Enjoy Entertaining 
Whether you're putting on a large event or just having company over, you don't need to add cleaning to your to-do list. Save your time -- and your energy -- for the party by hiring someone to clean your home before and after the event. Even if you're just having people over for dinner or to spend the weekend, knowing your housecleaning is taken care of takes the load off of you, and leaves you time to prepare for their arrival and enjoy the visit.

You Don't Know How to Clean 
Remember all those times your mom tried to teach you how to clean? Good. Now, do you remember anything she actually said? We didn't think so. Cleaning isn't as easy as just turning on a vacuum. There are tips and tricks you learn with time or experience. Don't know how to clean your home? Hire a housekeeper to show you. She can clean it a few times and demonstrate the best methods. But be careful; you may like just having her do it -- and that's okay too!

You Don't Like Cleaning 
Who does? But some people are better at it than others. Just because cleaning isn't your forte, doesn't mean you're lazy. Why waste your time and efforts doing something you're not good at, when you can have someone else do it? If cleaning takes you hours and you hate every minute of it, hire a housekeeper and devote that time to something more productive. If hiring someone to clean weekly strains your budget, find someone to deep clean once a month. That way, you'll be better equipped to keep the house tidy the rest of the time on your own.

You Have Elderly Family 
You might not want or need someone to clean your own home, but your aging parents or other relatives might need help. As people get older, it becomes harder to take care of daily chores and housekeeping tasks. A disorderly home is a health hazard for the elderly. A cluttered floor can cause them to fall and eating from dirty dishes can make them ill.

Barbara Berta of Colorado Springs, Colo., hired a housekeeper to tidy her father's apartment once a week. "My dad had diabetes, so between his illness and his age, it was hard for him to keep his home as clean as he would have liked," she says. "I already had my hands full with chores around my own home, so the housekeeper was a huge help when it came to making sure my dad had a comfortable and clean living space."

If your aging parents need more help than just cleaning, hire a senior care aide who can care for them, run errands and provide light cleaning around the home.

You Have a New Baby 
A new baby in the house means lots of extra cleaning and laundry -- more than exhausted new parents may be able to handle. A housekeeper can help pick up the slack while you get used to your new routine. Family or friends want to pitch in and get you a gift? Instead of flowers, suggest they chip in for a housekeeper to help you out for a few weeks.

You Deserve a Treat 
Sometimes you just need a break. Manicures and massages are great, but you can also pamper yourself by hiring someone to clean every once in a while. It's a nice luxury that will give you some extra time to yourself. Go ahead, you've earned it!

Ilene Jacobs is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas. 

How to Teach Your Children to Care about Art

Special thanks to Casey Lesser at Artsy for this piece

Upon entering Frieze New York last May, I ran into a colleague with his two small children. As we crossed the threshold of the bustling fair tent, the kids sprang into action, making a beeline for a red Carsten Hölleroctopus. They promptly plopped down beside it and began a discussion—“What is it made of?” and “Why is it red?” were among preliminary questions. A month or so later I’d see them again, this time in Chelsea, marvelling over Jordan Wolfson’s animatronic puppet at David Zwirner. Even to a stranger, it would have been clear that for these children, going to see art was an integral part of their lives. Their intense engagement with art (a level of enthusiasm that many adults struggle to maintain) begged some questions. What is it about art that commands a child’s attention? What impact can art have on a child’s development? And more broadly, what can be done to instill an appreciation of art in children?

To find answers, I turned to experts in the field who work at the intersections of children’s education and art. While primarily focusing on programs provided by museum spaces, I also consulted with other arts professionals and educators to establish a more complete picture of the underlying factors that can contribute to a child’s early appreciation of art—and how it affects a young person’s brain.


The benefits of art in early childhood

Over the past decade, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has found strong evidence showing that art can have a positive effect on young children (infants through eight-year-olds). A December 2015 NEA literature review conducted by program analyst Melissa Menzer, for example, found connections between the arts—including music, theater, visual arts, and literature—and social and emotional skills such as “helping, caring, and sharing activities.”

NEA arts education specialist Terry Liu, meanwhile, has found that more and more arts education grants are being funneled into the integration of arts with other disciplines in early childhood. “Teaching artists or organizations that have artists skilled in working with early childhood age groups are working with parents or Head Start centers to help them incorporate arts education and learning at this very early age,” Liu notes. In other words, art is no longer being siloed as a creative pursuit, but rather used “as a means to help children learn other subjects.”

Even further, Liu points to an increase in initiatives that are not just “reflecting on art and learning about art,” but also employing art to “make sense of how it relates to your understanding of the world.” Young people are being taught that art connects to the world around you. 

Multiple other studies have found a correlation between artmaking and emotional regulation, which is a central tenet of art therapy. Psychologist Jennifer Drake, an assistant professor at Brooklyn College, for example, has conducted studies around the relationship between drawing and emotional regulation among children and adults. Working with children in the six- to twelve-year-old range, these studies have proven that drawing can assuage the negative emotions a person feels upon being told to recall the details surrounding a sad personal event. These results are bolstering institutional programs and encouraging parents to engage children in the arts from an early age—but how?


Integrate looking and making  

To start, it’s a cornerstone of art education programs to cultivate a symbiotic relationship between looking at art and creating it. In museums, it’s become standard practice for educators to develop art-making programs that engage audiences with the works in a current exhibition or permanent collection. 

New York’s Whitney Museum, for example, has developed a vast array of programs to engage children of all ages (beginning with Stroller Tours for newborns and new parents), but one of its most popular programs is Open Studio, an in-house art studio led by graduate students that allows families to visit freely and create art on the weekends. “It’s a drop-in art-making program” says Billie Rae Vinson, coordinator of Family Programs, over the phone. “It’s a way to explore the artwork through some kind of material exploration.”

A day in the Open Studio program might involve crafting collages inspired by the high contrast found in an Edward Steichen photograph. “In museums it’s great to have discussions, but what do artists do?” asks Vinson. “They make stuff. We’ve got to get families making stuff.” The goals of this are double-pronged: to connect families with the activities of artists and to inspire creativity. “We’re not trying to be derivative or make parents or children copy or make little versions of the artworks on view; we want them to be inspired by these artists and then run with it for themselves.”

Similar models have been adopted by museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, which has a daily artist’s studio program. “Art-making in the museum can be very powerful because it allows children to connect their own imaginative ways of making with art they see around them in the galleries,” says Jacqueline Terrassa, Chair of Museum Education there.

Despite this, the Art Institute recently saw a need to direct more attention back to the museum’s exhibitions. “We wanted to find a fun, interactive solution to the challenge of how to make the museum feel accessible and navigable for families,” Terrassa says. “Often families will come to the Art Institute and stay in the Ryan Learning Center instead of also exploring the galleries.” This past spring the museum launched a new digital initiative, JourneyMaker, which allows families to create custom tours through the museum focused around eight storylines, including superheroes, time travel, and strange and wondrous beasts.

In making their children’s programs family-focused, both the Whitney and the Art Institute have recognized not only that children often need a parent or guardian for supervision, but also the powerful shared experiences that children and adults can have while learning about and making art together. And as such, these programs become communal spaces for families. “I talked to one dad who told me that for him it was a bit like New York’s living room,” Vinson says of the Whitney’s space. “He told me his son learned to walk in our Open Studio while his daughter was making art.”


Create flexible, communal spaces for experiencing art 

The idea of a communal space for art exploration is popular across numerous museums. The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling, located on the ground floor of the David Adjaye-designed Sugar Hill Project in Harlem, which opened last October, has a large central gallery space called The Living Room. Currently painted with a vibrant narrative mural by artist Saya Woolfalk (in collaboration with her four-year-old daughter), it is dotted with bright orange benches and tables, where families gather to see and make art, and participate in music and storytelling performances.

In adjacent spaces are a dedicated art studio, and gallery spaces—one for rotating exhibitions developed by contemporary artists, sometimes in collaboration with children, and one for shows done in partnership with fellow museums El Museo del Barrio and The Studio Museum in Harlem. “One of the reasons this museum was formed was as a lab to see what happens when art education and curatorial exhibitions coexist,” Associate Director of Curatorial Programs Lauren Kelley tells me, “to see if there can be a more democratic approach to programming, as opposed to the exhibitions being the reason for education to have tasks.”

She emphasizes that artmaking and art education are not separated from engaging with the exhibitions—all of which involve the work of children, to varying degrees. The current show by Shani Peters was inspired by the artist’s work with children. Exhibitions such as this one have been successful in dissembling “the sense of sacredness associated with what it means to be a viewer, which can lead to people feeling really uncomfortable,” says Kelley. “We hope that we can disarm that from children at an early age, and then they leave here wanting to go to the Met, feeling like ‘this makes sense to me.’”

The Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA) also integrates exhibition and art-making spaces. The museum’s tagline, “Look, Make, Share,” encompasses their approach to combining careful looking, art making, and dialogues around art. Artmaking activities here often relate to a central themed group exhibition (the current show focuses on sports; the next will be outer space) in its main gallery, which is flanked by multiple specialized studios. There is also a Clay Bar, where families can sign up to create playful sculptures.

“Making art familiar, an everyday event, rather than something isolated, also helps children become comfortable with it,” Terrassa offers. “Art is not only inside the museum—it’s all around you.” Jessica Hamlin, a professor of Arts Education at NYU Steinhardt, agrees. “There’s this constant back-and-forth between looking at works of art—how they can be looked at and understood, and building language and appreciation around them—and also the making,” she says. “But there’s a third piece: general aesthetic appreciation. We can bring that eye and that thinking to things we see in life.”

Building children’s confidence in what they see

CMA executive director Barbara Hunt McLanahan believes it’s all about encouraging what comes naturally to children: curiosity. “I think that in a way you don’t instill an appreciation of art in children, children already have it.”

In her experience during Sugar Hill’s first year, Kelley has found this to be true as well. “They really are excited about people having faith in them,” she explains. “I think children really just appreciate you giving them the space and the square footage to play with materials. We don’t always give them prompts, sometimes we just see what happens; we say to them, ‘what do you think you can do with these stickers? This tape? You choose, you figure it out.’ We respect them as capable.”

Adults are prone to decidedly affirm whether they’re artistic or not; that they understand art or they don’t. “So many adults come to the museum and say ‘I never did this because I wasn’t any good at art,’” McLanahan offers, “and our answer to that is ‘You probably were, but you were being told that maybe you weren’t good at drawing, perhaps you weren’t introduced to printmaking or abstract art. You were being asked to draw in a representational way and you didn’t enjoy that.” She adds that attitudes about what does and does not qualify as art are mostly limited to adults. “Children are way more open-minded.”

There are times when adults introduce judgements into the artmaking environment, and teachers at CMA have to step in. “I worry that we often teach creativity out of students rather than integrating it into the way we want all students to think of themselves, whether they become artists or not,” Hamlin says. “[Making art] correlates with development and brain science. It’s nurture and nature, not versus.” Hamlin notes that elementary school art classes that focus on skills and provide guidelines for what drawing should look like can be detrimental. “I think an emphasis on driving home skills-based instruction can be difficult for early childhood—it reinforces that there are good skills and bad skills, that there are people who have skills and people who don’t.”

In her studies on correlations between drawing and mood regulation, Drake found that in the 10- to 12-year-old age range, children become critical of their drawings skills. “They start to understand that they have limitations and that they can be good in some things and not at other things,” Drake says. “Six- to eight-year-olds are really absorbed in drawing, they can get more lost in it.”

In order to encourage creativity, many museums have adopted an inquiry-based approach, whereby educators prompt children through open-ended questions—emphasizing that there’s no right answer—in order to elicit ideas and incite discussion around art. “It’s really about asking them, ‘What do you see? How does it make you feel? What do you think the artist meant here? Why did they use this material?’ and encouraging them to have confidence in their answers,” says McLanahan. “We encourage you to have confidence in your ability to look and understand, but then we want you to respect someone else’s creativity and someone else’s opinion when we share.”


Don’t dumb it down

Understanding the simple fact that children want to be spoken to like adults, and that cossetting them at a young age can be a hindrance to their development, is central for many art educators. “There’s nothing about our exhibiting artists that makes them suited to children,” McLanahan says of CMA’s program. “It’s just that we’re actively encouraging children to use their minds and think about the work and talk about the work.” Underlying this approach is a recognition of the innate sophistication of children.

CMA puts on shows of emerging and established contemporary artists (the current show includes Hank Willis Thomas, Dario Escobar, and Zoe Buckman, among others); at Sugar Hill, Kelley is engaging contemporary artists living in Upper Manhattan. “If you dumb it down, if you think that children only like graffiti or cartoons or Keith Haring—it’s a dead end,” McLanahan advises. “We have wall labels that explain what the artist’s intentions are, we try not to use jargon, and we don’t over-explain the work.”

At the Art Institute, an encyclopedic museum that not only caters to all ages but a vast array of international audiences, a similar mindset prevails. “No art, no matter how abstract or supposedly ‘difficult,’ is off-limits for children,” Terrassa notes. “That said, some artwork, because of style or content, might resonate more at different stages of life. For example, artwork that engages with questions of identity might be great for teens, and highly experiential, abstract works can be a hit with very little ones.” She acknowledges that there will be art that may not reflect a family’s values, in which case it is up to a parent or guardian’s discretion.

While visual culture is often boiled down to its essential elements of shape and color, especially for younger audiences, it’s important to keep ideas and narratives top of mind. “Sometimes we underestimate what young kids are able to talk about and do, and read into things,” Hamlin notes. “It’s important to present a balance of pure, aesthetic elements and principles with an understanding of art as a form of communication that helps us talk, express, and connect with each other and with diverse experiences.”


Expose children to the contemporary art world

More and more, museums, schools, and community organizations are recruiting contemporary artists to teach children. The Whitney regularly holds artist-led workshops; all teachers at CMA are practicing artists; and Sugar Hill has an artist in residence each year who interacts with children at the museum, as well as its affiliate preschool. “As social practice art gains traction in the art world and that becomes a way of thinking about what artists can do, museums are really being receptive to artists wanting to do more than just put their objects in a museum,” Hamlin says of this trend. “Artists should be real human beings for kids, not just mythical characters.”


And many artists are eager to engage with children. “It’s important to me to give the children in the communities I work with a voice for their stories and a way to share those stories,” says David Shrobe, the first artist in residence at Sugar Hill, “and this is a space I was able to activate, a space for community.”

While museums have done well to recruit contemporary artists to teach in their institutions, children are rarely exposed to other roles they may pursue in the art world. One program addressing this absence is Frieze Teens, part of the non-profit arm of Frieze New York, a small but strong annual program that grants access to the contemporary art world to a group of 25 New York City public school students each year.

Participating teens from underserved communities are exposed to many facets of the art world, in hope of inspiring them to pursue a career in the field. “By seeing a work from its inception in a studio with the artists and then tracking through critics, curators, gallerists, fabricators, non-profits etc.—really anyone and everyone involved in that process—it gives these kids access to the full range of ways one could engage and participate in the art world,” Molly McIver, Head of Operations at Frieze New York told me.

But even more than presenting young people with career options, contemporary art offers an entrypoint into a more expansive, diverse understanding of art. Hamlin points out that the art historical canon that we lean so heavily on is no longer representative of the majority of students who are learning from it—in terms of gender, ethnicity and social, political, and sexual identities. “I think that we’re seeing the limitations of that canon, and yes there’s amazing work and beautiful work, but artists have been making work all over the world for thousands of years, and that’s a really important part of the conversation.”

But it won’t come easy. “There’s a whole set of things that teachers have to work against to bring the contemporary into their coursework,” says Hamlin. In addition to combating entrenched biases toward producing aesthetically pleasing objects, it’s hard for teachers to keep up with a continually shifting art world. “It’s a large hill to climb—there are changing ideas and notions around what art is, what art education can be, what artistic practices are, there’s this constantly evolving landscape of art practice.” So while there is a growing recognition of the importance of children engaging with art, manifold challenges remain.

“I think a lot of museums are really reassessing what it means to cater to this wee demographic,” Kelley tells me at Sugar Hill. “The obvious fact is that you’re building an audience from the ground up, and you’re tapping into a demographic that usually feels excluded—limited by a museum experience of ‘please don’t touch.’ We do not have any answers yet, but being allowed to be in this kind of lab, we can be ambitious with what we’re going to test out.” That’s all we can ask.

Report Reveals Superyacht Sales Up By 40%

Special thanks to the editorial team at YachtCharterFleet for this article. 

Providing access to sequestered islands and premier destinations in unparalleled style, it would appear that despite relative financial instability, the sale of luxury motor yachts and sailing yachts shows no signs of flagging.

Whilst classic cars increased by 17% and watches a mere 5%, the annual wealth report compiled by London-based property agent Knight Frank showed that superyacht sales were up by 40% over the last year.

Such encouraging statistics have been linked with the growing interest in more remote vacation destinations such as Antarctica as well as the increasing popularity of event charters- indeed the report also revealed that elite travellers attending the Art Basel fair in Miami was up by 28%.

With destinations such as South East Asia (Thailand in particular) investing considerable sums in the yachting industry over the last few years, we could well see this figure rise even further.

Indeed, with the superyacht industry still very much on the cutting-edge of design, and with ultra-modern concepts like the superyacht MOONSTONE making headlines, there’s nothing to suggest that sales will suffer in the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, what the report would appear to suggest is the championing of experiences over products - no other item on the luxury market allows buyers to enjoy such unique opportunities.

With this in mind, we can well expect to see the charter market enjoy a similar amount of success as wealth move towards exploring the world in a truly unparalleled fashion.

In order to make enquires about a charter vacation of your own, please get in touch with us at Stephanie.pennay@bahs.com. 

The Evidence of Children

Many thanks to Jessica Shyba over at Momma’s Gone City for these poignant and honest words.

It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes I am left alone in our home. My husband just left to take the big kids to school and the little ones to the park. The door shut, and the sounds in this home went from a vibrant, climactic heartbeat to a still, dull flatline.

I absorb it like sunshine on my skin for a moment, and then I begin to clean and prepare to get the red-carpet scroll of things done while I am alone. It’s a race to the finish line when the front door opens and little feet and big personalities race in.

Our home is lived in. I often lament during times like these or before we invite company over that our home looks like Romper Room. The children’s areas are everywhere. There’s a play yard in our living room, soccer nets in our back yard, and children’s chairs at the dining table in place of adult ones. We don’t have much space, and that’s ok. It’s just right for our family right this minute.

As I begin to pick up the breakfast dishes and pajamas strewn across the couch, I notice that every single part of our lives is filled with the love and happy chaos of children.


Various pairs and single shoes are often lying at the front door, when they remember to take them off coming inside. We had a strict no-shoe policy when we lived in New York, and we’re trying to get back to being more diligent about it. Most days I find myself reminding them, sometimes gently, other times not as much as I’d like.

There is dried glitter dripped down the wall by our kitchen table from art projects hung too soon.  I haven’t tried to clean it up.

My desk bears the prints of creative hands. There are photos of our children everywhere we look, and that will never change. We celebrate and scream our love for these babes from the mountaintops. It’s the only way we know how to be, to live, to walk, to run and stumble throughout this parenting journey. These are our racing numbers, displayed proudly on our trunks.

Our kitchen is constantly disheveled. It’s the belly of our home, our life; Where our babies took her first bites of food, the table on which our Easter eggs are dyed and space where tears are dried from homework battles.

The love notes hang as reminders of ourselves. My husband’s loving post-it’s listing the things completed before racing out to work before we’ve risen, and the constant flow of adoration in freshly printed letters from Zoe. She’s just found her literacy wings and she is soaring.

Backpacks hang waiting, individual socks lay waiting. Their mates are almost always rogue amongst the jungle of laundry that ebbs and flows throughout the week.

Beau’s trains and Jack’s books can be found everywhere. I’m frequently chuffed that their things are constantly peppering the tables and floors, but it will be so much worse when they aren’t. 


My vanity is piled with hand crafted ceramics and my bathroom is decorated in bath toys even though the kids have their own space for that. As much as these things all clog the atmosphere of my physical and mental space, I don’t want to imagine the days when I walk into a room and there aren’t fresh little finger prints on the mirrors or dirty kid’s spoons left over from breakfast.

These things that I see every single day, everywhere I look, are consuming. It feels overwhelming and yet completely comforting at the same time.

As much as I struggle to keep up with the task of raising children, this is my everything and my happy, exhausting, wild and crazy universe. I cannot imagine my life without every single facet of my mind, my home and my days being filled with the evidence of my children.

Common Sense C.P.R.


British American Household Staffing is now offering a C.P.R. class in collaboration with Birth Day Presence

Common Sense C.P.R. will teach Infant CPR plus Relief of Choking to expectant and new parents, grandparents and caregivers. 
You will learn:

Infant CPR (age 0-11 months). You are encouraged to come while pregnant, but may come after the baby is born.
Relief of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Taxicab and Car-Seat Guidelines
Extensive Baby Safety Tips

Each student will have a mannequin for ample hands-on practice. Students will leave with helpful handouts to keep at home. Babies who have not yet started crawling are welcome. To sign up: https://birthdaypresence.com/shop/infant-cpr-and-safety-ages-0-1-soho-2/

British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications.  They help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, lactation, latching and more.  Please contact info@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK.

Yes, You Can Afford a Private Chef

By Alina Dizik

15 March 2015

When Steve Harris hired a personal chef three years ago, he didn’t know what to expect.

As a single dad to an eight-year-old son, he didn’t want to rely on takeout food or his son’s babysitter for dinners. So, instead, the busy lawyer enlisted personal chef Marina Berger, to develop a nutritious menu and cook in his kitchen. The cost? $790 per week, plus food or kitchen essentials, which Berger orders and pays for online with Harris’s credit card.

Berger visits Harris's Manhattan apartment twice per week, each time preparing three nights of meals with enough for leftovers, packaging them in individual containers for easy reheating. Harris brings any leftovers for lunch and wouldn’t consider giving up the service.

Harris, 60, says he has lost "about 10 pounds" from eating healthier. The personal chef has also stocked Harris's kitchen with cookware including vegetable slicers, a heat-resistant spatula and a roasting pan.

As private chef services grow in many parts of the world, tapping into a luxury long accessible mostly to the elite is becoming easier, and in some cases, more affordable. In the US alone, there are 9,000 personal chefs serving 72,000 customers, a number that is predicted to double in the next five years, according to the American Personal and Private Chef Association.

These days there’s a strong divide between professional chefs and other household help. Full-time chefs who live outside a client’s home can earn anywhere from $65,000 to $180,000 per year, said Christian Paier, founder of Private Chefs Inc, an agency with 4,000 chefs around the world. The majority of chefs do not live in, he said. In the Middle East many chefs, however, get free housing and receive salaries about 20% less than chefs in North America. Personal chef services are still about 15% cheaper than the average in North America than in Asia and South America, he said.

From the high-end to weekly meals prepared at once, buying private chef services is more accessible than ever.

Choosing a chef

Before Paier will add a chef to his roster for clients, they go through a rigorous interview process, where Paier looks at both the chef’s professional background along with their personality to ensure a fit. A chef needs eight years of experience along with a culinary degree or apprenticeship to qualify, too. Customers often ask that chefs sign non-disclosure agreements to protect their privacy, so trustworthiness is key.

While some chefs sign up with services like Private Chefs, others market directly to consumers and can be found online through their websites.

For full-time placement, customers typically contact household staffing agencies to find a chef and can expect to pay 15% of the first year's annual salary or a fee upwards of $10,000 to get started. The matchmaking process can take weeks and focuses on both food tastes and personality.

“Some clients spend more time with their chef than their own spouse,” said Paier. Expect a personal chef to have more advanced training compared to household cooks, who might take on other duties including cleaning and childcare.

Other chefs, like Berger, are hired to come-and-go a few times a week. Many chefs also specialise in at-home formal entertaining, coming to a home only as-needed for dinner parties.

You can expect a private chef to be fairly health conscious and to plan out healthy dishes. That’s in large part because many who hire chefs eat out several times a week as it is and want the food at home to be better for them than the typical restaurant meal, said Berger, who has been a private chef in New York for eight years.

“A lot of people I cook for would eat out all the time,” if they didn’t hire a chef to come to their homes, she said. Berger, like many chefs, emails them a menu for approval a few days ahead of time and shops for ingredients the same day she prepares the meals. Customer favourites include: chilled pistachio soup, salmon kebabs and caramel apple tarts.

Options to consider

In the Middle East and Asia, many middle-class families already enlist domestic help to cook and clean, but recently there is a greater demand for gourmet chefs, said chef Tomas Reger, who works in Dubai, typically crafting special occasion meals for families, from surprise dinners for a spouse to bigger parties.

Rather than taking on a full-time role, Reger has worked alongside a family’s “house” cooks for several weeks to train them in gourmet techniques inspired by French cuisine that they did not learn during their own informal training. Other times, he spends a couple of hours with the house cooks to help perfect a recipe he’d previously cooked for the client.

For one dinner — a surprise for a husband — Reger prepared four courses, including foie gras with apricot and cardamom, and red snapper. For special dinners, Reger charges 450AED ($122) per person. Reger generally prepares food ahead of time in a rental kitchen and arrives about two hours before the meal, with meat stocks, fish that’s already filleted and marinated meats, which he then cooks in the client's kitchen.

In parts of Asia, business executives are also hiring private chefs for one-off meetings and events, said Crystal Chua, owner of My Private Chef, a Singapore-based agency that allows customers to hire chefs for one-off corporate dinners. Prices start at $195 per person for a four-course meal and includes table setting and other setup along with professional servers.

While served at home, the service has the feel of restaurant and chefs are encouraged to introduce their menu before serving. Privacy is crucial and some clients wish to have little communication with the chef. When it comes to cuisines, “opposites attract,” Chua said. “Foreign guests often request Asian cuisines while Asian guests ask for European menus.”

Before hiring a fulltime chef, understand their breadth of experience and how it matches your own culinary needs. Many have worked in hectic kitchens and can cook a wide assortment of dishes throughout the year, said Reger. Some customers pay for a few test meals or tastings in addition to conducting a formal interview to make sure both cooking and personality styles are compatible. Those employing a chef on a fulltime basis must pay taxes and health insurance.

For many busy families, hiring part-time help can be the best fit. Expect to pay upwards of $250 for half a day’s cooking (which can often result in two meals for the week) or at least $50 per hour to supplement your own cooking with three professionally-cooked dinners per week and $200 more for additional lunches. Most clients settle a weekly bill with the chef that includes a fixed day rate along with food costs.

BAHS is planning upcoming events in this category. Details will be published here in the near future.

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BAHS is planning upcoming events in this category. Details will be published here in the near future.

Please try selecting another category.

Tips and Tricks for Traveling with Children

Although a vacation is intended as a relaxing experience, it is rarely so. Planning a trip presents enough of a challenge in and of itself, but executing it without a few glitches is a difficult feat. Throw a few energetic toddlers into the mix and the prospect of a stress-free trip seems nearly impossible.

But fear not, because here at BAHS we have compiled a few of our favorite tips to help you make the most of a family vacation. Follow these suggestions and it will be smooth sailing (or flying) from here on out!

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

When it comes to traveling, especially with children, planning is absolutely key. A few days before your trip, create a list of all your travel must-haves. Don’t forget to pack any medications your family may need, and if you have especially young children always pack extra baby supplies such as diapers and formula. You never know when you may need it! Make sure to pack essentials in carry-ons. In the case of lost luggage, you don’t want to be running around a country or state you don’t know, looking for diapers. If you have a personal assistant or a house manager, they can help you create a comprehensive plan and travel itinerary.

2. Be Airport-Ready

Preparing for a flight is a lot of work and preparing a child that has little-to-no flying experience is even harder. Keep your child comfortable by dressing them in layers, as airports and planes are notorious for unpredictable temperatures. Make the security process as easy as possible by having your child wear slip-off shoes and pack all valuables and electronics for the family in one carry-on bag. Check with the TSA before your flight, as the restrictions on liquids often don’t apply to diaper bags. Make sure to pack disposable wipes so that you can disinfect any germy surfaces on the plane itself.

3. Go Hands-Free

A bulky stroller creates a lot of hassle. Instead, opt for a baby-carrier for infants, as it frees up your hands so that you can pull luggage behind you, and makes boarding the plane much easier. Often times, the staff at your hotel can refer you to a stroller rental service for when you actually get to your destination.

4. Keep Kids Informed

Traveling can be overwhelming for young kids; it is new, hectic, and there is a ton of sensory stimulation. In order to keep kids calm, be sure to narrate the processes that you are going through as they happen. Kids will feel much less intimidated this way. If you can, schedule a flight during naptime and stick to your routine. Consistency helps children and babies feel grounded.

5. Keep Them Entertained

Bring activities for toddlers to do on the plane; a mix of old and new is key here. Toys and activities that are old favorites are comforting in an unusual situation, but don’t underestimate novelty. One or two new toys or activities will keep kids entertained for hours, buying time on a long flight.

6. Stay Positive

Remember to keep a positive attitude and stay calm. Happiness is contagious and if you are in a calm and content state of mind, your child will be too.

7. Enlist Help

Last but not least, enlist the help of a Nanny. If you have a newborn, consider a Baby Nurse or Newborn Care Specialist.  Having an extra person on a vacation is invaluable; it can help to keep kids entertained, calm, and happy. Consider consulting a nanny agency to help you find the right person! A Nanny can help with keeping children on a routine, they can help organize the airport process, and they can watch the children so that you have a chance to relax. You worked hard for a vacation, after all!

Learn more about hiring a Nanny 

Learn more about hiring a Newborn Care Specialist 

Learn more about hiring a House Manager


Michael Kormos Photography offered these pro photo tips to creating your own fabulous infant photos.

Michael Kormos Photography is a partner of British American Household Staffing and British American Baby Nurses and offers photo tips for newborns. Many thanks to them for this blog and for giving our readers crucial tips on how to create perfect photos dedicated to this precious part of life. Michael and Sophie understand that the newborn stage is all-too-fleeting and they go to great lengths to ensure that parents can look back on these photos and remember how it felt to welcome a new addition to the family.

"As professional family photographers, parents are always asking us for advice on capturing better pictures of their babies.  Newborns are especially delicate, and require a lot of experience to be handled safely and posed beautifully.  Attention to detail is of the utmost importance to capture those perfect moments that will be treasured forever. 

Photography Tips: Newborns

LIGHTING. As with any portraits, you’ll generally want to use soft, subtle light.  Position your baby near a window, and use a sheer curtain or white sheet to diffuse the light.

POSING. The best time to capture posed newborn portraits is while your baby is asleep.  Bear in mind that infants sleep most deeply when their little bellies are full, and their diapers are dry. The key to successful newborn portraits is a generous feeding beforehand, so your baby is calm and content for a variety of concepts.  In the first few weeks after birth, newborns have a natural tendency toward that adorable fetal curl.  Once they’re asleep, you’ll be able to gently position their little hands and feet without resistance.  It’s always nice to see a glimpse of little fingers and toes in a full-body pose.

CLOSE-UPS. There are so many precious details to capture in those first few weeks after birth.  Take pictures of her feathery eyelashes, flaky skin, pouty lips, the peach fuzz on her shoulders... We love capturing a composition with baby’s tiny fingers next to her brand-new belly button.  Baby’s tiny toes are also a favorite.  Close-up portraits allow you to accentuate the details, which are miniature works of art that you’ll treasure forever. 

SCALE.  Emphasize your newborn’s petite proportions by incorporating simple props, such as a favorite stuffed animal.  We love to capture baby’s hand clutching Mom’s finger, or baby’s body curled up perfectly in Dad’s hands.  You can even use your wedding rings on baby’s toes to show scale in a meaningful way.

MINIMAL PROPS.  Soft colors and textures add a nice touch to newborn portraits.  Creams and neutral palettes are especially flattering for skin tones.  Lay your baby on a soft blanket, or wrap her in a cozy swaddle cloth.  Always make sure that any fabrics have been freshly washed with hypoallergenic detergent.  We also love to use hand-knit mohair bonnets and dainty headbands from Etsy for added variety.

LIFESTYLE. There’s no better place to create precious memories than a home filled with the love and excitement of a brand new baby.  You’ve put so much effort into perfecting your baby’s nursery, and it’s a pity not to feature all of the adorable details. There are many creative ways to incorporate nursery décor and accents to really personalize your newborn portraits.  We love photographing infants in their crib.  Through the slats is a very creative perspective, or even shooting from above with the mobile in the foreground. The best approach for lifestyle photography is to have images flow like a story, so keep that in mind as you photograph.  It’s truly a beautiful way to tell a newborn story.

Years from now, you’ll look at these photos, and be reminded of the sweetness of your newborn baby, those first cuddles and tender emotions.  It may just be a short story of a lovely afternoon, but it’s a story that will be treasured for a lifetime."

Michael Kormos Photography is a boutique family photography studio located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.  As a husband-and-wife team, Michael and Sophie work together to create a relaxed and enjoyable experience, while capturing your most precious memories as beautiful works of art.  “Like” them on Facebook and check out their site to continue being inspired by their beautiful work!

10 Must Have Tips For Finding The Right Baby Nurse or Doula

Baby Nurse or Doula:

10 Must Have Tips For Finding The Right Baby Nurse or Doula

When I was pregnant with my daughter and looking for a baby nurse, I found the process daunting.  I wasn’t sure where to begin, what questions to ask, and what to even expect once I hired one.  After going through the process, meeting many other moms who went through their own searches, and talking with many baby nurses and doulas—I feel much more informed.  And now I’d like to pass these tips onto you so you have an easier time getting started.

5 Tips for finding your Baby Nurse

Start your search as early as you can.  Some women book their baby nurses within days of finding out they’re pregnant, so the longer you wait, the fewer available baby nurses there will be.  But, if you’re nearing your due date and haven’t booked a baby nurse yet, don’t panic.  You can still find someone great—you may just have to dig a little deeper.
There are a lot of baby nurses in the local New York area, which means that you have flexibility in the hours you want!  If you don’t want someone 24/7 then you don’t have to make that type of commitment.  She can commute to you for just nights or just days.
Ask her about her approach to establishing a sleep routine and if you are going to breastfeed, her approach on breastfeeding.  Does she advocate for supplementing with formula?  When would she suggest introducing the bottle?  There are different schools of thought for both sleep and feeding, and even if you don’t fully know what you want to do and how you want to do it, you’ll still get a sense if your thinking aligns.
When interviewing a baby nurse ask about her family and what she likes to do - it’s the best way to get to know a person and see if you are comfortable with her.  And being comfortable with your baby nurse, and feeling like you “click” is extremely important.
Interview carefully.  Evaluate her certifications (which can include Infant Care Specialist, infant CPR, LPN, LVN RN), years of experience and skill level, and find out if this is somebody you are comfortable with.  You can use Rate My Baby Nurse’s Baby Nurse Interview Questions to get started.

5 Tips for finding your Doula

Observe the doula during the interview.  Does she listen to you?  Does she involve your partner in the conversation?  She should do both, and both are important for a positive experience.  Here is a list of Doula Interview Questionsto get you started.

Do you connect with this person?  Will you want her by your side during your labor and delivery, or in the weeks that follow?  Will you feel comfortable communicating with her?
If you’ve already chosen your OB or Midwife and know where you are delivering, find out if the doula you are interviewing has experience working with any of them.  Also get a sense if the experiences were positive.
Determine if your doula has experience with any personal circumstances or goals you may have, and if her philosophies on childbirth or postpartum decisions align with yours.  For instance if you are considering an epidural what does she think about that?
Research whomever you are considering.  Check certifications (some include DONA, CAPPA, ICEA, ALACE) and references.  Determine how much training she has had, as different certification programs involve varying levels.  And especially for a postpartum doula run a background check.   

Don’t ignore your gut feeling.  It’s there for a reason, so follow it!  And of course research whomever you are considering.  Check certifications and references, and run a background check.

Check out mamaviews.com for a comprehensive list of interview questions to get started:
Baby Nurse Interview Questions
Doula Interview Questions

Melissa Lutzke is the founder of  www.mamaviews.com, the largest national review site fully dedicated to providing real parent feedback on baby nurses and doulas. Moms can search based on important criteria like reliability, infant care knowledge and trustworthiness. You can reach Melissa at Melissa@mamaviews.com.

The Desire for Butlers is Increasing Worldwide


In his insightful article, Pádraig Belton highlights the growing popularity of new-age butlers:

"The stereotype of a butler as a lifelong position held by an older man is no longer the case. Many butlers are career changers. With cutbacks in the armed forces, many butlers were previously in military service. There are also a good number of former actors, unsurprising given the element of performance required in the role. The average age of a newly employed butler is 41.

‘Super-butlers’ – those who boast good references from the stateliest hotels or who work for particularly wealthy principals are becoming more and more desired. Whereas regular butler salaries average from $57,000 to $71,000, these super-butlers easily earn  $143,000 to $157,000 annually. One such super-butler is John Deery, in his mid-40s and a native of Northern Ireland. Along with planning travel arrangements for his principal, a businessman, and valeting, serving meals, and making sure visas are up to date, Deery manages three of his employer’s properties. One is in the Balkans with 34 staff, there is a London residence with another 12, and a third is being developed.

'You need to know when to be in the background, not too intrusive, very respectful of his time and space to ensure his comfort at all times and that the household runs like clockwork,' Deery says. 'You have to be on your toes, very dedicated, and you don’t have too much of a private life. But I have to say, I love it.'

The butlers of yesteryear may not have approved. But it seems safe to assume that they would, at least, be glad to see their profession flourishing."

To read the full article published by BBC Capital, please click here.

Don’t Hire the Wrong Person to Care for your Baby, PLEASE!


I speak from experience when I say that parents don’t always hire the right baby nurses or newborn care specialists to care for their children.  Unfortunately for my first newborn, I made some mistakes with care providers that my second child will never have to deal with because I did all the experimenting and bad decision-making with his brother. 

That’s how parenting goes.  You live and learn because unfortunately, parenting doesn’t have a training ground and everything is learned on the job.  But my hope for you in this blog post is for you to learn from my mistakes so your missteps will be fewer and farther between.  So here it goes…

1. Not every care provider was created equally.  There are typically three types of people who can help you after your baby is born and they all have varying degrees of experience, training and rates of pay.  Take a few minutes to Google them and find out their training but here is a little summary for you.

- A postpartum doula – A trained professional specializing in the care of the mother while she cares for her baby.  Doulas teach mothers how to care for their babies, soothing techniques, personal care for the mother, infant care and can be a tremendous help as you navigate your way through breastfeeding.  Some postpartum doulas will also help you fold laundry, tidy up around the house, organize yourself and all your new baby gear, demonstrate how to wear your baby and much more. Doulas leave mothers feeling confident and secure so they can care for themselves and their entire families.  Postpartum doulas are trained and certified, CPR certified and insured.  Some are Lactation Counselors, not to be confused with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, but not to be taken lightly.  Some doulas sent from the heavens even do overnights!

- Baby Nurses – An experienced woman in newborn care who may or may not have formal training as a Newborn Care Specialist, Registered Nurse (RN) credentials or breastfeeding knowledge or experience.  A baby nurse's focus is on the baby and not the mother, though they may have some wonderful tips on infant care.  Baby Nurses may also go by the term nanny, night nurse or night nanny. Some baby nurses, especially those represented by British American Household Staffing, are higher quality and their Baby Nurses are trainied and have the education to understand the needs of the parents as well as the newborn and infant.

- Infant Care Specialist – At times also known as Baby Nurses and Maternity Nurses, specialize in infant and newborn care.  They typically work either 24-hour or 12-hour shifts during the first three to six months of an infant’s life.  A qualified Infant/Newborn Care Specialist will often hold certifications in sleep training, lactation and have experience and training in a variety of areas such as premature births, multiples and twins as well as surrogates.  A Newborn Care Specialist will attend to the needs of the mother during recuperation as well as the infant’s development.  They may be certified in areas including: breastfeeding, lactation consulting, psychological development, sleep training, bonding, and more. 

2. Stick to your guns:  You know what’s right for your baby, not the person you hired.  This is your baby and, though your mother’s instinct is always developing, you and your partner know what is best for your baby and how you want to parent your child.  Write down what that is, make sure you and your partner are on the same page and stand by your own philosophies.

3. Be prepared for your interview:  I know it’s not easy and I’d be lying if I told you I was ever prepared for an interview with a pediatrician, daycare provider, baby nurse, newborn care specialist, nanny, governess or sitter.  But I did my family and myself a disservice.  Make a note on your phone or send yourself an email one day while breastfeeding or on the train with notes and questions.  Work backwards by thinking of what you want in a childcare provider and what is most important to you and your family.  Once you have a nice little list, think of three questions you would like the interviewee to answer – NOT ones that can be answered with yes or no answers, but with nice long descriptions.  If you’re looking for someone who is kind and gentle, ask her to tell you a time she felt her kindness changed someone’s day.  You want stories because they will get you to know her better.  And don’t assume everyone is just kind and gentle and that’s why they are doing this job.  It’s not always true!!

4. Know what you’re looking for: People love to say “I’ll know it when I see it”.  But what if you're very pregnant or you have a newborn or infant and sleep isn’t a thing that you’re doing these days?  Have a list, or better yet ask your partner what their list is.  This will help get them involved in the process and give you ideas you can build off of or add onto.

5. Develop a contract:  Contracts are not just a formality, they are designed so that everyone is aware of what the other person's expectations are.  Most of all, you want to let your caregiver (baby nurse, newborn care specialist, doula, infant care specialist, nanny, governess) know that you take this very seriously.  Lastly, writing a contact will help you solidify your needs, wants and expectations.

6. Pay a fair and living wage:  This is an extremely important factor in hiring someone to care for the person you love most dearly in this world.  Think of the times you’ve worked for less money than you were worth, or if you never have, ask someone who has and consider yourself VERY lucky.  Being paid less than you’re worth feels horrible and living pay check to pay check - or not even that - is extremely scary and anxiety producing.  Don’t be the person putting someone in that position.  If you have questions or concerns about what the living wage is in your area, MIT designed an amazing Living Wage Calculator to help you with this.  You can also take a look at the non-profit agency Hand In Hand who can teach you all you need to know about being a good domestic employer – because that is what you are and thinking of yourself as someone’s employer is a really good start to learning how to treat them right.

7. Last but not least – Go to an agency that has a great reputation:  Finding a good agency with a good reputation and a great online presence can be priceless.  The benefit of going this route is that a good agency will get to know who YOU are and what your needs and concerns are.  They can then search their pool of trained, certified and insured professionals and set you up with a few people they think you would love. As about their baby nurses and newborn care specialists - what experience do they have, how are their references, what baby nurse or newborn care qualifications do the baby nurses or newborn care specialists have? When you work with a legitimate business in this way, you know that their reputation is on the line, so they are going to do their best to make sure you’re satisfied. If they have a great web presence, you can read what their mission statement is and make sure it matches with your personality. Read through their reviews and find reviews from baby nurses or newborn care specialists or from parents who possibly hired a baby nurse or infant care specialist or a nanny or governess.

So there you have it, a simple guideline to help guide you through the forest of care givers.  Once you get this down, you’ll be ready for your full education on how to get your child into the right Pre-K.

This world of childcare and education is a rocky and murky sea that never seems to end.  So, do yourself a favor and find an expert to help you as you continue on your journey.

Many thanks to our friends over at Baby Caravan for this guest blog post.

The Benefits of Newborn Care Specialists and Postpartum Doulas


Baby Nurses, Newborn Care Specialists and Postpartum Doulas are very unique and transformative in the lives of parents and newborns. They typically provide a very calming presence to new parents and allow moms and dads to return to playing the role of Friend, Working Professional, Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle, etc., that they were afraid of having to give up when they first learned that their family unit was going to expand. The extra support that a Baby Nurse, Newborn Care Specialist or Postpartum Doula can provide will truly change the experience of a new parent from a time of high stress to a period of full enjoyment.

The article below, written for Expectant Mother's Guide, delves further into the details of the role of a newborn care specialist in contrast to a postpartum doula and how they become integrated into a family's life while making the parents feel included and cared for every step of the way. 

Baby Nurses & Postpartum Doulas

"Doulas: The Differences and Benefits
As any parent will tell you, a typical newborn/infant is awake and in need of care for several hours every night for at least 3-5 months. In the past, most parents had extended family members to help with this 24-hour schedule, and mothers were able to remain in the birthing center or hospital to recuperate. Today, however, family members are geographically spread out or cannot leave work themselves, and most mothers are not given the chance to properly heal before being sent back home (and back to work!). In order to get the vital sleep needed to care for their family and function at work outside the home, some new parents choose to employ postpartum help such as baby nurses, newborn caregivers or postpartum doulas.

Baby Nurse

Traditionally, overnight nanny responsibilities have been held by women with the title of baby nurse. Usually this was family member or well-respected woman in the community. By today’s modern standards, however, a baby nurse is a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) with specific training in the clinical and practical care of newborns and infants. Further, in many states the term “baby nurse” can only be used legally if the person practicing this profession is an actual RN or LPN.

For individuals who have experience in newborn care but do not hold specific medical licenses, the term newborn care specialist is now used. However, state and national licenses for the care of 1-3 children do not exist, so there is no certification or monitoring of individuals who use this title. The extent of the caregiver’s experience can vary widely.

A baby nurse performs all tasks related to baby’s well-being. While they are required to keep the child’s room orderly and clean, they do not perform household duties. The role of the baby nurse includes: bottle feeding, diapering, changing linens, changing clothing and soothing the child through the night. An important component of this care is holding baby upright for 20-30 minutes after feeding, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For parents who choose to use formula at night, 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep is typical. For mothers who exclusively breastfeed, a baby nurse can use expressed breast milk in a bottle, or bring the child to mother. The nurse then provides all other care for baby by burping, soothing, changing and easing baby back to sleep. For breastfeeding moms this means an average of 2-3 extra hours per night of sleep.

With both clinical and practical experience, the baby nurse helps the whole family. Knowing baby is in capable, nurturing hands just as s/he was in the hospital nursery, mothers get the deep restorative sleep their bodies need to recuperate from the emotional and physical demands of childbirth. For mothers who work outside the home and stay-at-home moms alike, baby nurses allow for proper rest so she can be present and effective during the day. New dads and partners benefit in these same ways.

Siblings also benefit from baby nurses. Parents can be available to comfort older children when they inevitably wake up during the night as they adjust to new baby sounds and activity. Toddlers in particular, who cannot yet articulate their feelings and may be confused, need extra parental comfort as they adjust to life with the new little one. For families with twins or more, overnight help allows parents to bond with each child individually or simply have relief from the demanding feeding schedule of multiple babies.

For the babies themselves of course, the baby nurse allows their needs to be met quickly and lovingly by a professional pediatric caregiver. The nurse does not replace family, rather she is another nurturing presence caring for and monitoring the child. For this reason, she often becomes regarded as “one of the family.”

Postpartum Doulas

The role of the postpartum doula is to be available to all members of the family as they transform into a new family unit. While it is true that the doula “mothers the mother,” assisting mom with anything she needs to be able to care for the child, she also tends to siblings, and provides support to fathers and partners. According to Doulas of North America (DONA), “The doula provides non-medical support and companionship, assists with newborn care and sibling adjustment, meal preparation and household organization.” A doula will not exclusively care for baby overnight, rather she will provide whatever the family needs to take care of themselves as well as their newest member. Her role is to support the family unit as much as needed.

While doulas do not perform medical tasks or clinical care, a large part of their role is to provide evidence-based education for families. They assist with instruction about baby care, breastfeeding and teaching other family members how to take care of mother. Additionally, the doula provides fathers and partners with support. This can mean providing gentle support with early bonding and questions, or simply listening to the new parent’s concerns.

Required to have contact information for at least 45 outside care resources such as La Leche League, postpartum support groups or other parent organizations, the doula is also a vital source of information if needed. It is important to note that the doula does not judge or take a position on any parenting decisions. Rather she helps to provide a calm, encouraging environment for families to find their own path as they journey into their new family dynamic.

The times a doula works with a family vary greatly. She may live-in, work during the day or provide care overnight. Since a large part of the doula’s scope of care is to help the family discover self-confidence in their child and family care abilities, there is no exact timeframe to use a doula. The goal is that as families grow more confident, the need for a doula’s care naturally diminishes. Because of the positive, nurturing impact of a doula, she is oftentimes regarded as a member of the family.

The type of care parents select as they evolve into a new family unit is a deeply personal choice. Whether it is family or church members, a baby nurse or postpartum doula, good outside help can contribute to the overall well being of the family. Each of these caregivers gives new parents the gift of health, rest and peace of mind."

Reasons To Hire A Baby Nurse

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Having a baby nurse is a luxury that allows parents to feel knowledgeable, confident, in control, and fully equipped to welcome a new member into the household. Baby nurses act as live-in consultants who are accessible 24 hours a day. They come with a wealth of knowledge on infant products, feeding and sleep schedules, swaddling, infant development and can answer any questions a new or overwhelmed parent might have. Most importantly, baby nurses work with families during the first few weeks or months of a newborn’s life, an incredibly crucial stage of physical, emotional, and cognitive development. One area baby nurses specialize in is sleep training, the benefits of which are seen throughout childhood and can help a child grow into a more structured and settled adult.

Although baby nurses are able to provide full charge care, they are always encouraging of parental involvement and never limit a parent’s desire to be hands-on. With a truly experienced and professional baby nurse’s expertise, new moms and dads are able to receive all the postpartum help necessary while being able to get enough rest to really enjoy all of the excitement their new bundle of joy brings. The article below, written for NY Metro Parents, delves further into the details of a baby nurse's role and integration into a family. 


Should You Hire A Baby Nurse?

"If this is your first pregnancy stop worrying about labor and giving birth. The real exhaustion of childbirth comes afterwards; even if you have a perfectly normal delivery, expect at least a two-week recovery period. Not only will you not feel well, you will have a little baby to take care of and probably limited experience with newborns. Many New York couples survive this time and enjoy their child's first few weeks of life with the help of a baby nurse.

What is a baby nurse and what does one do? She is an experienced nanny with training in newborn skills. She is responsible for the care of your baby 24 hours a day. She will get up for nighttime feedings while the new mother gets her much needed rest. If the baby is breastfeeding, the nurse will get up with the new mother, help position the baby, and carry him back and forth.

A baby nurse will do the baby's laundry everyday and help with light housekeeping and snacks. She will teach you to change diapers, bathe, and feed the baby, or she will do it all for you. She will answer your questions. She will hold the baby throughout the day providing security and affection when you need a break. She will keep you company, or disappear when you want to be alone with your new family.

When interviewing a potential baby nurse, tell her your expectations. One friend who stops pregnant women on the street to recommend her baby nurse said she wanted to feel like a Victorian lady. She wanted her little one brought to her clean, fed and ready to sleep on her lap. She wanted the baby taken away to be changed and brought back in a fresh, new little outfit.

Baby nurses take a tremendous burden off new fathers who may not feel capable of providing the nurturing a new baby and recovering wife need. If a husband can't take time off from work, he knows he is not leaving his wife to fend for herself.

Can't Mom help? Your mother or mother-in-law may be selflessly offering to stay with you as long as you need at no cost to you. Is it wise in your postpartum emotional state to have the woman who told you what to do your whole life living with you? If you think a baby nurse will intimidate you or force her childrearing ways on you, it won't compare to what your mother can do, - this is her grandchild. If you don't like the idea of a stranger knowing your family business, remember that she leaves in two weeks and doesn't have any stake in your life.

If your relationship with your mother or mother-in-law is such that you have no problem with her staying with you, by all means graciously accept her help. If this is her first grandchild, you may find a completely different woman in your house.

When you have family help, you will be open to receiving visitors or risk hurting someone's feelings. But you may not feel like being seen or you may want to spend at least the first week enjoying your new immediate family. You probably don't want a lot of people holding your baby, but if you have visitors you will oblige them. Avoid the situation altogether. Tell everyone, including grandparents, you'll see them next week.

The doula option Depending on what you expect of your childbirth experience, you may consider hiring a doula. - a woman who provides the mother with support before, during and after childbirth. She will help you come up with a birth plan and be in the delivery room with you if you want. Most New York area doulas, however, specialize in the postpartum period. They offer the new mother guidance and encouragement. Some are even lactation specialists. The idea is to nurture the new mother, they do not take care of your baby.

The duties of a baby nurse are more flexible. She can offer you advice and teach you parenting skills. If you are too tired or too overwhelmed to learn anything, take advantage of the nurse's willingness to take care of your baby while you recover.

So how do you find a baby nurse? Everyone I asked said through word-of-mouth. Ask couples with kids in New York City. Someone will have used one. Most nanny agencies can help you find a baby nurse; some specialize in them.

Every pregnancy is different and you can't predict what kind of recovery you will have. Hiring a baby nurse is like buying an insurance policy. It can ensure that you and your baby come home to a calm environment where you can enjoy every moment as a new family."

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