Tag Archive for: new families

There isn’t a handbook for pregnancy, birth, or parenthood and that can be overwhelming. If you’re finding yourself with notebooks or spreadsheets full of information to wade through, you’re not alone. We have access to an entire internet full of recommendations, be they current or outdated. Finding reasonable, science-backed answers can feel like an uphill battle and a lonely one at that. Are childbirth classes really necessary? Are newborn care classes worth it?Where can I find newborn classes and childbirth education in Baltimore?

That’s a call only you and your partner can make.

Childbirth Education

What is Childbirth Education?

Childbirth Education Classes are educational programs taught by experienced instructors well versed in the field of Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum. Childbirth Education curriculum varies and classes attended are generally chosen based on your preferences. Some focus heavily on a larger, trademarked curriculum such as Evidence Based Birth or Lamaze, while others are completely unique to the instructor such as Doulas of Baltimore’s signature Complete Childbirth Education Series.

Childbirth Education classes can be taught in person, online, in a group setting, or on an individual basis. There are many options and approaches, the bottom line is finding one that someone you trust teaches.


What should my class cover?

While there are many different types of curriculum, and the benefits of childbirth education still require more official study, it’s well known that access to education increases positive outcomes. When looking at classes, ensure yours covers these basic topics:

  • Decision making strategies to ensure you remain an active participant in your birth story
  • Tips for staying healthy and comfortable in late pregnancy
  • Physiology and the process of labor and birth
  • Common interventions and medication options
  • How to create and communicate your birth preferences
  • Hands-on coping, comfort and relaxation techniques 
  • Preparing for the postpartum experience


Whether you’re planning on going through childbirth without an epidural or are open to medication, understanding these key topics can help you create the birth and postpartum experience that will set you up for success.


Doulas of Baltimore is hosting our Spring session of our Complete Childbirth Series on Saturdays beginning April 6th, 2024 in Baltimore and our One Day Baby 101 workshop in Frederick. Our Complete Childbirth Series runs 4 weeks and covers 12 hours of science-backed education in an affirming and open environment. Our Baby 101 workshop is a one day intensive that gives new parents all the essential information they need. Learn more and register here!

Newborn Care Classes

What are Newborn Care Classes?

Newborn Care Classes are educational sessions for anyone who needs updated information on the care and keeping of newborn babies. Experienced teachers lead these classes who have taken professional training and work in the field. There are many different options for taking these classes including Hospital-based programs and more uniquely designed curriculum created by individuals. Ensure the source and how frequently the materials are updated are considered when searching for your classes. Safety standards for newborns and infants change regularly and ensuring you have the latest information ensures you’re able to keep your baby safe and those around your baby updated.

What should my class cover?

All Newborn Care classes should cover the basics of baby care such as feeding and diapering as well as:

  • Preparing your home and family for a newborn
  • Common baby gear and gadgets
  • Normal newborn characteristics
  • Hygiene including diapering, bathing, and dressing
  • Crying and newborn communication
  • Comfort and bonding techniques
  • Newborn sleep patterns and safe sleep
  • Feeding options and techniques
  • Hunger and satiation cues
  • Common feeding obstacles


Doulas of Baltimore has an opportunity for Newborn Care Education this Spring. Join us in Baltimore for our 4 Week Essential Newborn Care Series. This class runs 4 weeks and covers 12 hours of science-backed education in an affirming and open environment. Learn more and register here!


When considering the question, “What childbirth classes should I take?” consider who is teaching it, what the course covers, and if the curriculum is aligned with your birth wishes. If you’re searching for infant care classes for new parents we recommend ensuring that the course is based in science and has up-to-date information on safety and development for newborn babies. We recommend if you’re searching for Newborn classes and Childbirth Education in Baltimore or Frederick, consider Doulas of Baltimore!


We believe education is one of the most important things you can invest in. Above all when we educate ourselves we empower ourselves to make sound decisions, enter any situation with confidence, and create a great environment for a positive experience. Generally taking classes with your birth partner prior to giving birth can deeply connect you to one another creating a sense of safety and support.

Pinterest graphic about classes for new parents to take

It’s that dreaded time of year again. Goodbye to standard time. Daylight savings time begins. Every time shift can be challenging, though “springing ahead” is thought to be the easier of the two. But that’s little consolation when the sun is still shining bright at your little one’s bedtime!

For parents of newborns and most babies under six months old – rejoice! Younger babies hardly notice the change and it has little effect on their sleep patterns. It’s not often that you get good news about newborn babies and their sleep! Of course many of you are still working on predictable and consistent sleep. And you and your partner will be affected by the time change so try to adjust your own sleep routine to minimize this impact.

For parents of older infants and toddlers (and older kids too!), your child’s circadian rhythm will be affected by this jump ahead and we know of no parents who look forward to this biannual scourge…er, um, event!

Four tips of helping your child adjust to the daylight savings time change:

1. Lots of outside time and sunshine

Good for everyone, everyday. And even more so when our circadian rhythm and sleep patterns need adjusting. Morning sunshine is especially helpful!

2. Blackout curtains and dim lights

Honestly? We recommend blackout curtains for everyone! A consistent sleep routine is easier to accomplish when you control the light. An hour ahead of bedtime, pull the blinds and dim the lights. This shift stimulates the production of melatonin and helps set your little one up for a better night’s sleep.

3. Gradual sleep schedule adjustment

You can gradually adjust the sleep schedule ahead of time or start the morning after. You can use 15- or 30-minute increments, mostly dependent on the age of temperament of your little one. Kim West, aka The Sleep Lady, has some great tips on schedule adjustment for “springing ahead” (and she is an overall fantastic resource for all things related to sleep for babies and children!). 

4. Nothing

That’s right. You can opt for doing nothing ahead of time or any specific adjustments afterwards. This works better for babies and children with “easy to adapt” temperaments. If this does not describe your child, your whole family may do better overall with some proactive strategies to work with your child’s temperament and minimize the stress.

Bonus Tip: Patience

Regardless of what approach you end up taking, the adjustment to daylight savings time takes about a week. Offering some patience to your little one, your partner, yourself, and anyone else you interact with is never a bad approach, especially the week after daylight savings time begins! In a few short weeks, you’ll be enjoying some time to yourself with the later setting sun after your little one is asleep – hopefully with some gardening, walking with a friend, reading a good book, or any other activity you enjoy! 

As we all know, sleep is a topic of interest for all parents, especially new parents. Read on to get more information on:

Understanding and shaping newborn sleep habits.

How our overnight newborn care can help you rest while setting a foundation of healthy sleep habits with your little one.


Who among us doesn’t treasure a great night’s sleep? And how many new or expectant parents have heard the horror stories of newborn sleep skills (or lack thereof!) and their parents who can’t recall the last time they woke up in the morning feeling refreshed? There’s no denying that finding a way to get some good rest is a challenge in the early months of new parenthood, so let’s talk about it!

Babies Sleep, Just Not the Way We’d Like!

First, let’s explore what to expect from your baby at night, and why they do what they do. The first three months of an infant’s life are commonly referred to as the “Fourth Trimester”. During this time their physical and emotional development that began in the womb are completed. Their brains begin the process of learning by association and are busy sorting out the world. Their bodies are learning to eat and sleep with purpose, and they need their parents’ help to develop patterns which will help their systems regulate.

With their tiny tummies, newborns need to eat every three to four hours at night. Parents might wish for a great night’s sleep, the health and survival of their baby is likely to demand otherwise for a while. Day and night are still meaningless to them, and their circadian rhythm has yet to develop, so their bodies aren’t giving them cues to sleep just because night has come.

If you’ve done any research or talked to other parents, you have seen and heard lots of advice on how to get your baby to sleep, some of which directly contradicts other recommendations. You may be left confused and anxious. And wondering how you are supposed to know the best way to get it right from the beginning. While the task at hand can seem monumental and overwhelming, some simple steps can get you and your babies on the right track for excellent rest. 

Basics of Safe, Comfortable Newborn Sleep

Start with the basics – a safe sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with no additional blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumpers, or cushions. Next, decide where in the home baby will be sleeping. Will you be rooming in for a few weeks, or starting from day 1 in the nursery? Both have their pros and cons, and only you can make the choice about what will get your family the best rest possible! Some families find having baby close at hand makes responding to their needs at night quicker and less overall distracting from peaceful sleep. Others find they hear every little noise, and thus need the distance of a wall between them and baby so they can actually fall asleep in between feeding and soothing sessions.

Sleep Associations – use them!

Next, let’s talk about comfort and routine. Building healthy sleep associations from day 1 can actually help mitigate the need for intense sleep training months later. All babies are born with a biological need to feel safe, secure, and soothed whether it’s day or night. How do we meet those needs while we rest? 

  1. Womb Service. During the day, babies are often happy to sleep anywhere, through any amount of noise and light. But when it comes to nighttime sleep, it really helps to think about recreating the environment your baby just left. What about it can be translated into a safe and soothing aid for sleeping in your home? Baby’s room should be dark (think black out curtains!). Set a comfortable temperature without drafts (68-72 degrees, though cooler is better than warmer for babies). Lastly, add ambient white noise to muffle the minor disruptions from the rest of the household.
  2. Swaddle. Babies sleep better when swaddled in their first weeks! Why? They’ve been swaddled their whole lives in the cushy, cozy environment of the womb before birth. The trick is getting a snug, secure swaddle that baby can’t easily wriggle out of. Hell hath no fury like a baby who got their arm out of a swaddle before they were really ready to wake up! Velcro and snap swaddle pods are appealing, but if your newborn is particularly tiny, they often don’t get tight enough. Stick to the tried and true large, muslin swaddle blankets and a good old fashioned baby-burrito-wrap. Check out the video demo on our YouTube channel, or let us teach you in person. Our postpartum doulas are often deemed magical when we show parents how we swaddle during a night shift! 
  3. Soothe. Babies are born with a biological need to suck for comfort and as a prevention from SIDS. Sucking actually helps them regulate their breathing! If you don’t want to or can’t nurse an infant 24/7, they’re going to have to fulfill this need elsewhere. Pacifiers are an indispensable tool in healthy newborn sleep in this regard! A well-fed infant who is steadily gaining weight can safely be offered a pacifier for sleep soothing without concern it will impact their feeding relationship. 

Don’t Try to Keep Them Up!

While at first it might seem counterintuitive, sleep begets sleep. Set a consistent nap routine as soon as you are able during the day. Overtired infants are actually harder to get to sleep. Newborns should generally not stay awake between naps more than 45 minutes to 1 hour (for more on periods of wakefulness as baby ages, see Precious Little Sleep). Watching for signs and signals your newborn is ready for rest is just as key as setting the right tone for their sleep environment. Avoiding meltdowns from exhaustion means noticing your baby’s sleep cues. Do they start to rub their eyes, ears, neck, or head? Do they give you a ‘thousand yard stare’ with half-drooping eyelids? Are they yawning repeatedly? Don’t wait for your baby to start crying to get them ready for sleep. Instead, pay attention to the signs and jump right into their sleep routine.

Sleep When Baby Sleeps??

While the old adage ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ still rings true to a point, often it’s easier said than done. Sometimes your brain just isn’t wired for rest when your baby lies down. To the best of your ability, at least practice periods of quiet when your baby naps during the day. If you can’t actually sleep, definitely don’t take that precious naptime as an opportunity to catch up on every household chore you’ve been missing. Lie down, read a book, or watch a show. On another day go sit outside in the sunshine for a bit. Take a shower. And always make sure to grab something nutritious to snack on and rehydrate. Even small periods of wakeful rest can do wonders for your outlook when a tiny baby has your schedule out of whack.

Prioritize Nighttime Sleep

When it comes to night sleep, getting your own rest becomes even more important than during the day. Your postpartum recovery and mental health depend on getting adequate rest. Even the most well-adjusted babies wake multiple times a night with needs to be met. Prioritize the help of a partner swapping off changing duties if you’re the primary feeding parent, if possible. Doulas of Baltimore can step in to give expert and compassionate care to your newborn while you sleep the night away, and without interrupting your feeding relationship or bonding experience. A professional postpartum doula or Newborn Care Specialist is there to make sure that you wake feeling as rested and refreshed as possible.

Keep the faith! Long winter nights eventually give way to sunny spring mornings. And your tiny, sleepless offspring develop into a more mature and settled creature who can tell night from day. Like the countless families who came before you and will follow in your footsteps, you will become a rested, confident parent who will grow to treasure your nighttime time with your child, whether it’s a bath, an evening stroll around the neighborhood, or the 900th reading of Goodnight Moon.

Three little words that parents dread: “What’s for dinner?” At the best of times this question can send grown adults into a state of confusion and panic, and for a new family it may seem too much to comprehend to come up with a plan for postpartum meals. Throw the winter holiday season into the mix, and you have a recipe that calls for crawling into a cave and hiding till summer. But, you’d have to find food to bring with you anyway, so you might as well just figure this out now.

Planning for the early days

The first postpartum months are likely to find you in survival mode, just hoping to keep yourself and your family nourished for another day. You may think fondly back a few weeks ago to lunches out with friends or coworkers, as you scrape together a plate of crackers and deli turkey and wish for a food fairy to appear in your kitchen. Believe it or not, you are just a handful of ingredients and a few pots and spoons away from some delicious, filling, and festive dishes!

When planning meals for these early postpartum months, keep in mind the dietary needs that you have most likely discussed with your care provider. Most new parents need protein, fiber, and iron, along with plenty of liquids for hydration. If you are tempted to begin a new diet to address baby weight gain, please be upfront with your provider about your plans to ensure that you are being safe and getting everything you need for proper nutrition and recovery. Allow yourself to rest from the demands of trying to bounce back in your “4th trimester”, and plan to ease into health over at least 12 weeks. Newborns mean your time and your hands will be in demand, so your goal should be meals that are quick, simple, and packed with nutrition.

Your first step is to release yourself from expectations and obligations, and to embrace shortcuts and outside help. This can be especially difficult if you love to spend time creating in your kitchen and if holiday meals spark joy for you. If this resonates, try to ask for and carve out some time to spend a few hours immersed in the cooking process while others care for your newborn. Remember, though, that your responsibilities for feeding others in these first months with an infant begin and end within the walls of your home. This is not the year for a five-course meal for 16 relatives.

Don’t shy away from outside help

There is no shame in using frozen pie crust instead of homemade, and a pre-made mirepoix from the grocery store is much easier than buying, cleaning, and chopping those vegetables on your own. Online ordering and home delivery can be your BFFs; consider them to be essentials rather than luxuries during this special time. A grocery delivery subscription can be a great registry item for those well-meaning but long-distance relatives!

When searching for meal options, one great possibility is dump recipes that consist mostly of opening cans and heating the dish in one pot, like a stockpot or slow cooker. Brisket is crazy-easy and delicious in a slow cooker; you can find directions and recipes for quick homemade BBQ sauce online, or just use your favorite bottled sauce. With a package of refrigerated tortellini, a few cans of vegetable or chicken broth, and some shredded carrots, you have soup. How about a low-fuss turkey dinner in a slow cooker? You can do it with this recipe from Taste of Home. Make a simple, festive potato dish fit for any celebration by swirling mashed potatoes together with mashed sweet potatoes in a casserole baker, and topping with paprika and parsley and warming through in an oven.

Considering opting out of the temptation for ‘fast food’ that can leave you feeling sluggish and bloated during this especially vulnerable time of healing. Many local favorites such as Graul’s or Eddie’s of Roland Park offer wonderfully nutritious pre-made meal options that can feed you and your whole crowd of holiday cohorts!

Lastly, let’s not forget dessert!

Desserts are an essential part of the holidays for many of us, and can be done simply at home if it’s meaningful to you to make your own rather than pick something up at your favorite bakery. Again, a frozen pie crust or its relative, frozen puff pastry, can be a lifesaver when paired with your choice of canned or fresh seasonal fruit. Top pies and tarts with a few cranberries or pomegranate arils or a shake of cinnamon sugar for a pop of festive color and flavor.

If this isn’t your first rodeo with a new baby at home and you have older children, try to set aside a weekend afternoon for a baking session with them. They will remember and love the time with you, and there will not be so many sprinkles on the floor that they’ll be impossible to clean later. If you can grab a little time, mix up some sugar cookie dough, then divide it and color some of it with the holiday colors you like so your young ones can shape, pat, and twist candy cane cookies or wreaths. If you don’t have time to mix your own, you can find delicious sugar cookie dough in refrigerated tubes at grocery stores.

Depending on the needs of your baby and yourself, you may need an extra hand or two even with the most straightforward meal plan. Enlisting the help of a friend, relative, or doula may give you a few treasured hours to accomplish more than you might feel is possible on your own. Doulas of Baltimore can provide an experienced set of hands to assist with light meal prep and kitchen help, or will occupy your wee ones while you escape to the kitchen for a few blissful hours. Whether preparing dinner is a source of comfort or a source of anxiety, with a little practice and the right ingredients you may find that you’re capable of some pretty great meals. Happy and delicious holidays to you and your family!

You’ve welcomed a new baby into your home, you’re feeling up to getting out of the house together, and you’ve picked a location! Now what?

Taking a day trip with a tiny one can seem daunting, whether you’re traveling on vacation or just going to the grocery store. Babies seem to need so much stuff. With some doula-tested strategies and an eye on streamlining your packing process, you CAN manage to enjoy the big world outside without feeling like a pack horse in the process! Try our tips below for stress-free errands and excursions, no matter where you go.

Tip 1: Start with a great bag.

Before you decide what to bring with you when you go out and about, you need to decide where you’re going to put it all. Enter the trusty diaper bag! Diaper bags have come a long way in recent years, incorporating everything from insulated bottle compartments to holes for earbuds to thread through. Choose a bag that’s both sturdy in construction and fitting for your lifestyle. Are you outdoorsy, or will your bag be doubling as a board room briefcase some days? Do you love bold patterns, or traditional neutrals? Take space into consideration too- will you be packing cloth or disposable diapers? Are you traveling with multiple children? This will make a difference! Make sure whichever bag you choose has multiple interior and exterior pockets and compartments. Items stay more organized (and thus easy to access quickly) when they each have a designated place.

Tip 2: Stick to the Essentials

The best way to simplify your days out with baby is to bring only what you’ll actually need. While this can vary widely from family to family, try not to plan for every possibility under the sun. Leave surplus supplies in your car if you’ll be too far from home to pop back in quickly for unexpected emergencies. Include the basics – diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes, then branch out. Think of what baby will need to eat (will you need a bottle?), what the weather will be like (sun hat?), and if at all possible – multi-purpose! Blankets can also be changing pads and sun shades (we love these classic muslin style). Bibs can also be spit rags. Frozen water bottles can keep milk cold while doubling as a drink for you when they thaw. Leave the heaps of toys & gadgets at home.

Tip 3: Suit up

Don’t just think about what you’ll bring along when you venture out – think about what you and baby will be wearing! Dressing for success doesn’t end at the office. When venturing out with little ones, what you and they wear can make or break how enjoyable our day is.  

For parents, dressing in comfortable layers and choosing clothing with pockets can be hugely beneficial! No one ever plans for spit up or diaper leaks, but they happen. Being able to easily cover a small stain temporarily with a cardigan or scarf or making your undershirt your “over-shirt” can save your day from ending abruptly.

Keys and phones are easy to lose when juggling a baby and diaper bag. You set them down, turn around, and suddenly can’t remember where you saw them last. Keep them close in pockets when possible and avoid the hassle the search altogether.

For baby, we all know how cute ruffles and buckles are on small humans!

But when out and about, think minimalism on baby. Headbands get pulled off and lost, buckles can pinch in car seats (no one loves a crying baby on a commute), and outfits without snap-bottoms are both inconvenient and messy should a diaper disaster occur. Dress baby is breathable fabrics with quick access for diaper changes and outfit swaps. You’ll save yourself time and have the bonus of a more comfortable kiddo! We love snap-bottom rompers like this one during summer – they wash and wear great and can easily be paired with a sweater on chilly evenings.

Remember that every outing is a new chance to learn and make memories with your baby, no matter how small the reason! It’s okay to forget things and make mistakes. Like most things, the more you practice, the more confidence you gain. So get out there- the world is waiting!