The Importance of Newborn Care as a Specialty

We recently enjoyed a professional development workshop (online, of course!) with my long-time friend and colleague Tonya Sakowicz. Tonya runs Phoenix-based Newborn Care Solutions, an educational organisation that aims to benefit parents and children by providing nannies and other child carers with specialist training in the care of newborns (generally the first 12 to 16 weeks).

Tonya has had a particular focus in, and passion for, this area for most of her career, and her enthusiasm for newborn care is immediately apparent when you hear her speak.

As she points out, those first few months of a child’s life are very different to almost any other phase of development, and this can put a lot of pressure on the new parent. This is made worse in the information age. The term ‘drinking from a fire hose’ is often used to describe information overload, and for the new parent the expression has never been more apt!

The nanny who has been trained in newborn care can provide enormous relief for new parents, sharing knowledge about what’s normal … and what’s not. They can help create an environment that will give the infant the optimal opportunity to thrive.

Nannies who are newborn care specialists aren’t medical professionals (unless from a previous career), but they can be effective at recognising early signs of, say, illness, and seeking help at the earliest opportunity. Tonya gave the example of nannies identifying the signs of the potentially dangerous pyloric stenosis, a narrowing of the opening from the stomach to the first part of the small intestine which can occur (albeit rarely) in the first weeks of life.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, newborn care specialists often have particular strengths in assisting with breastfeeding and in providing sleep support. 

Tonya is a powerful advocate for international standards to be applied to newborn care. She has always had a strong bent towards using scientific research to guide her thinking, and some of that research has recently reinforced her view that, while cultural differences obviously exist all over the world, the basic needs of the newborn baby are always the same and never change. After all, the baby doesn’t know what culture it has been born into!

Another topic that Tonya is passionate about, and which is incorporated into her training courses, is the concept of ‘greenproofing’ a home, and especially a nursery, ahead of the arrival of a new baby.

Greenproofing in practice involves making preparations by, for instance, ‘off-gassing’ new items (car seats, cot mattresses, plastic toys). This means unwrapping these items and exposing them to fresh air and, ideally, sunlight, for some weeks before they will be used. The action allows potentially toxic gases (the ‘new car smell’) to disperse before babies are exposed to them. Other greenproofing initiatives you can take include investigating non-toxic personal care products (shampoo, soap, etc.) and encouraging plenty of fresh air into the nursery.

If any of our nannies are interested in undertaking Tonya’s program (or if a parent is interested in assisting their nanny to do so), please get in touch with us. It is available via various online means, and if there is enough interest we could put a group together.

This article was originally posted by Placement Solutions.

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