Three years ago Melissa Moog was pregnant with her first child and clueless as to what kinds of items she'd need to help welcome her new daughter into the world. She'd just moved from California to Oregon and didn't have any close friends with children to point her in the right direction. To her relief, her sister-in-law came to the rescue and took her shopping. But somehow, at Babies "R" Us, things took a turn for the worse. "By the fourth aisle, when I saw 200-some-odd strollers I was completely overwhelmed. On top of that I was pregnant, bloated, had swollen ankles, and had no desire to keep shopping the whole store."
Psst: Want to know 12 things no one ever tells you about babies?
That's when her business plan was born: Moog decided to create a concierge service for expectant mothers. Just as brides benefit from wedding planners, mothers-to-be could benefit from baby planners. So in 2006, she opened up her business, Itsabelly, which focuses on helping families plan for their children, while also emphasizing non-toxic, environmentally safe products. The business was met with such success that in 2007, Moog founded the National Baby Planner Association. Now, there are about 60 baby planners worldwide, with more positioned to join the ranks.
Moog says a baby planner works by saving a mother or couple time and money. Baby planners advise parents-to-be on what to register for, and also clue them in on what items are unnecessary (like bottle warmers and diaper stackers). They help design nurseries and research birth options. They even remain available over time to help with things like babyproofing or other tasks.
"We have the information at our fingertips because we've done all the research and we've tested the products," says Moog. "And we also know what services are available in our communities because we're tied into the community of lactation consultants and doulas and birthing professionals. You don't have to waste your time on trying to find that information as a pregnant mom or expectant couples."
Moog says that most baby planners offer hourly rates ranging from $50 to $200 per hour, and many also offer packages.
When asked about the five items that every new mother must have, Moog says, "Itsabelly really focuses on the key things that a newborn and a new parent are going to go through and that's sleeping, eating and changing diapers." She shared the following:
1. Breast pump
A new mom-especially one going back to work-should have a good breastfeeding tool. Medela makes a great breast pump and also offers BPA-free storage containers.
2. Diapering system.
Itsabelly recommends that new mothers consider a non-toxic diapering system, meaning an eco-diaper with fewer chemicals, like Seventh Generation, Nature Babycare, or gDiapers. Cloth diapers are also an excellent route for parents who are comfortable with the bit of extra work involved.
3. Carrier or sling.
This enables you to walk around the house with your hands free while also bonding with your baby. Whether you prefer front- or back-side options, find what best fits your body. ERGObaby and Moby Wrap are two good brands.
4. Good-quality swaddle blanket.
A soothing swaddle helps babies to sleep securely. Swaddledesigns.com has many great options.
5. Car seat.
If you're driving, you can't even leave the hospital without putting your child in a car seat within your car. Britax creates reliable, safety-tested car seats and strollers.
Want more tips on preparing for baby?Get last-minute tips from Parents' before-baby-comes checklist!
Want to find out more about baby planners? Go to http://www.nationalbabyplannerassociation.com/, For additional information about Itsabelly go to http://www2.itsa-belly.com/
By Kate Silver for Parents.com