Ep 155: Sleep Sacks and Baby Naps with Tara Williams of Dreamland Baby

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Bad news, everyone: losing sleep is part of having a baby. However, the good news is that there are things you can do to help your baby (and you!) catch more of that oh-so-important shut eye. You can stick to a sleep schedule or have a special bedtime routine so your baby knows when it’s time to wind down. And for some, products may help, as well. 

Tara WIlliams is a mom of four and the founder and CEO of Dreamland Baby. When she could not find a weighted blanket that her six-month-old could safely wear to help him sleep, she decided to create her own. The result was a doctor-approved, evenly-weighted, wearable sleep sack. Now, of course there is no one-size-fits-all sleep solution, but Tara created her company because it helped her baby sleep and it just might help your little one, too!

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Why Tara started Dreamland Baby
  • What is a sleep sack, what is a sleep swaddle, and what is the difference
  • Why might it be helpful to use a sleep sack or a sleep swaddle
  • Why might it be helpful to use a weighted sleep product
  • What did Dreamland Baby do to ensure their product is safe
  • What are some tips that new parents can use to promote better sleep for their newborns
  • How to protect your sleep during the newborn period

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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Ep 155: Sleep Sacks and Baby Naps with Tara Williams of Dreamland Baby

Nicole: In this episode, we're talking all about baby sleep with dreamland baby co-founder Tara Williams. Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OBGYN who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it.

Nicole: Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 155. Thank you for being here with me today. In today's episode, we have Tara Williams. Tara is a mom of four and the founder and CEO of Dream Land Baby. In 2018, when Tara could not find a weighted blanket her six month old son could safely wear to help him sleep, she decided to create her own. And when you hear about how he was sleeping in the episode, you will understand why she really felt compelled to do this. Now, the result was a doctor approved, evenly waited, wearable SleepSack and after making a deal on Shark Tank, yes, that is ABC's Shark Tank. Tara's weighted sleeps solutions are now helping hundreds of thousands of babies and their families worldwide get the sleep they need. So in this episode, we chat all about what is a sleep sack, what is a sleep swaddle?

Nicole: Why might it be helpful to use a sleep sack or sleep swaddle? Why might it be helpful to use a weighted sleep product? We also talk a lot about what they did to make sure that their products are considered safe, as well as some tips that new parents can do to help promote good sleep for their newborns and tips for parents themselves, to help them through that newborn period and the challenges with sleep. There is tons of great information in this episode, and I know that you are going to find it helpful. Now, before we get into the episode, I do have a question for you. Have you made a birth plan yet? If not, you need to make one. A birth plan is a great way to help you have the birth that you want. The thing though, is that it needs to be done the right way. And the right way to make a birth plan doesn't involve a template. It doesn't involve a form. It doesn't involve a checklist. It's actually a process where you ask questions to make sure that the doctor who's there, the hospital where you give birth are actually on your side for the things that you want for your birth. And it's a process that needs to happen while you're still pregnant, when things aren't stressful. If you wait until you get to the hospital and present this birth plan, and you have no idea whether or not the doctor in hospital actually support what's in your birth plan, you are so seriously potentially setting yourself up for disappointment and disaster, really, because by that point, you can't just leave and go someplace else. And you can't really find another doctor or it's really hard to do so. So in my class Make A Birth Plan The Right Way I teach you an easy step by step process that's going to help you make a birth plan that actually helps you understand and know that your doctor and hospital actually support what you want for your birth. And this class is an hour it's packed with information, super informative, folks find it very helpful, and it is incredibly affordable. So check out the birth plan class, Make A Birth Plan The Right Way at drnicolerankins.com/register. All right, let's get into the conversation with Tara from Dreamland Baby.

Nicole: Thanks so much, Tara, for agreeing to come onto the podcast. I'm excited to chat

Tara: Me too. Thank you for having me, Nicole.

Nicole: Yeah. So why don't we start off by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your work and your family?

Tara: Absolutely. Um, my name's Tara Williams. I live in Danville, California, so right outside of San Francisco. Um, I'm a mom of four. I have, um, two girls and two boys. They are 9, 8, 7, and almost four. And, um, I'm the founder and CEO of Dreamland Baby, where we make weighted, swaddles sleep sacks and blankets for babies and toddlers.

Nicole: Awesome. You have a full house there.

Tara: I do.

Nicole: But uh, even split two and two.

Tara: Yes, it's perfect.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So what led you to start Dreamland Baby?

Tara: Yeah, so my three oldest kids slept really great. And then my baby Luke was six months old. He was still waking up every hour and a half. So for those listeners who are parents, they know that it's like a newborn. Um, it was quite unbearable and we had bought everything. We had tried everything, nothing worked for him. And one day my husband, I were just like hanging out, watching TV. Other kids were in bed and I laid this heavy throw blanket on Luke. And I noticed immediately he started to calm down and just have this like calm over his face. And I thought right away he needs a weighted blanket. And so I went on, I think Amazon first and looked it up and I was like, wow, this is really weird. They don't have anything that's wearable like a SleepSack it was only loose. And then, um, looked on Google and I was like, what, how can this product not exist? So I was so sure that that was the right product for my son, um, called my mother-in-law and, and she's a master seamstress she sewed it up for me. It took a couple weeks to get, and then the first night he wore it, he slept for 12 hours.

Nicole: Wow.

Tara: So it was just, it was immediate. It was amazing. It truly was life changing for us. And from there, I just started telling people about it like, oh, you know, I'm getting sleep again. Um, I made this it for my son and it was so immediate and so fast that, you know, the response was pretty much, um, I would, that would've been super beneficial for my child. You know, we, we did dangerous practices like stacking heavy blankets or pillows. Um, can I get one for my friend or my sister or myself or the third was that there's no way that doesn't already exist. It's so obvious. So it was very, um, overwhelmingly positive. And within a very short amount of time, I recognized this is a product that truly changed the life of my family. And we could help, you know, at first I thought hundreds and then thousands, and now we're hundreds of thousands of families, um, as well. So I decided to pursue it as a business.

Nicole: Gotcha. So how long between, when you, you know, first came up with the idea and then when the business started?

Tara: Uh, it was about a year to, to kind of take off.

Nicole: Okay. Okay. And then sleeping at six months, every like waking up, I should say rather every hour and a half. My God. That was painful.

Tara: Awful. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. Like nothing like, um, you know, as they say necessity is the mother of invention.

Tara: Exactly, yes.

Nicole: Yes, yes, yes, yes. So lots of people have ideas about things, but then, you know, there's, there's a difference between like having the idea and then making it happen. So what kind out of training and expertise did you have about sleep for babies before you created this, this product?

Tara: You know, that's, it's an interesting question because I, I actually get that a lot. People are like, how did you, how were you qualified and how do you know? So my background while it was different than having a consumer product, I think it, um, prepared me well for this entrepreneurial journey. So I had spent the last 10 years in medical device, um, sales and market development. So bringing new products to market, um, it's, it was different because the whole element of eCommerce and consumer product wasn't there, where we were really working with, um, you know, surgeons and tertiary training hospitals, more one on one. And then, um, the trickle down effect from training, their fellows and residents, and, and then they go out into the world and then they train people and they do the procedures. So it's a little bit different of a, of a market development avenue, but I had actually worked for two separate startups and, um, was quite involved in terms of understanding everything from like, this is what HR does.

Tara: And, you know, I, at one company, my manager was like, I am the HR agent. I was like, oh, you don't seem qualified for that. Um, but just really having exposure to the CEO of both of those companies and understanding the manufacturing product process, and, you know, a lot of that was done overseas and just kind of having a front row to that. And really, I think if, if nothing else, it just gave me the confidence that if these people can do it, so can I, um, while talented, they weren't unique in the world in any way. And so I didn't view it as this big mountain. I know a lot of people look at starting a business as something that is so difficult and so overwhelming. And I never looked at it like that. I just thought, oh, you know, I can do this.

Tara: This is not, it's not that hard. Um, and so what was also unique about my background, um, I spent a lot of time with, um, you know, working with the FDA to getting different, um, devices, uh, cleared and working with surgeons and, uh, pediatricians and pulmonologists and, and different, um, folks in the medical community for clinical trials. So when I looked at this product, while it is a consumer product, um, I really went quite overboard with the safety element, almost treating it as if it was a medical device that's gonna to be injected or implanted in a human's body. I mean, that is a level of scrutiny I took on this, so I didn't launch it until there had been a clinical trial that was done. And we partner with that hospital. Now we're doing more clinical trial works, looking at safety and efficacy of the product.

Tara: Um, we have a strong partnership with NIS across the country. The product is wonderful for infants who are born exposed. So their mother has done some type of, um, drug while they're in and they're addicted upon birth and they're withdrawing. So, um, this is a great, what is called a non-pharmacological solution, meaning instead of receiving additional methadone to counteract their withdrawals, they can now receive less, more of, you know, drugs, right. And have this as a solution. So it's something that's really needed in the opioid crisis that the United States is currently in. Um, so it's something our company's really proud of that we're able to contribute and, um, you know, partner on, on a philanthropic level and do research as well. So it's definitely, I mean, people say, oh, wow, that's a lot for just a baby blanket. Right. But this is something that I was putting on my son every single night. And I wanted to know was certainty that it was 1000% safe. So that's definitely a lens. Um, I think that's a little bit different about me as a founder that I brought to the organization.

Nicole: Sure, sure, sure. Well, we'll, um, talk about the safety in, in a minute, but I wanna first talk about just like some basics. So what, what is a sleep sack? And then, because I know you have a sleep sack and then what is a sleep swaddle and what's the difference between those just in general?

Tara: Yeah, absolutely. So sleep sack and swaddle market is I would say a very crowded market. Um, ours is very differentiated because while a swaddle, um, either you could use the word restrain, I guess, but essentially holds down the baby's arms. Think about like a baby burrito where they're wrapped up to simulate that, um, environment that was in the womb. They're kind of clo really like, like a cocoon almost. And the idea behind the swaddle is that infants are born with something called the Morrow or startle reflex. So if you've ever seen a baby, um, shoot their arms up in the air, literally like they're startled. That happens quite often because they just don't have the external stimuli to be able to regulate their, their body pretty much. So that's why anybody swaddles and then a SleepSack is when baby starts to show signs of rolling.

Tara: So that can happen anywhere from three on the early side to six months on the later side. And then you do not wanna use a swaddle anymore because if baby was able to, um, roll themselves while their arms were pinned down, it could be a potential suffocation risk in that they couldn't turn back right. To get back onto their back to be able to breathe safely. So we have a weighted swaddle and our, our products are evenly distributed weight, and then we have a weighted SleepSack so pretty much it mirrors what's on the market, but differentiated with the weighted component.

Nicole: Gotcha. And then a SleepSack is different, cuz it's literally just like a little sack that they're in.

Tara: Yeah, exactly. In other words, people call it is a wearable blanket. So if you think about, well, if you had a blanket that was over your shoulders and then there were two cutouts for arms that your arms could stick out. So you could turn over, lay on your stomach, roll back.

Nicole: Gotcha. Now why might it be helpful to use either one of those at all?

Tara: Yeah, so I mean, they're super commonly used and, and um, actually the first wearable blanket came out in the nineties. So anybody, uh, born, you know, about 1990 and after most likely your parents used it on you, but they didn't have 'em before that. And it actually came from the founder of halo. His daughter had died of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. Um, uh, quite often that is affiliated with suffocation. So they have the definition of SIDS now. So his, his child suffocated, and he said, you know, I don't ever want any parent to go through this. Um, you know, how can we make this safer? And so one of the biggest suffocation risks was a loose blanket in the crib. So now American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend a loose blanket go in the crib until baby is age two or they're out of the crib.

Tara: Um, and so that's where, when I first thought of this concept for my son, with the, the weighted blanket, there were loose weighted blankets that were obviously smaller, like a baby size and weigh less. I mean, if we think of a weighted blanket, now we think of those adult twin sizes that are almost 10, 15, 20 pounds. So it was, it was like a lighter version, but nonetheless, I, I knew that was not safe and we are super safe sleep, um, like follow dot the i's, cross the t's on safety with sleep. Um, and so that was not something I was going to even entertain or try. Um, and so I was looking for a wearable blanket, like wearable solution and put those arm holes. So it, it completely mitigates the risk of going over baby's face because there's a spot for their head and there's a spot for their arms.

Tara: So it literally cannot come up on your face because the arms are appropriately sized and it's, it's held down by your shoulders. So it eliminates suffocation. So now parents the think, okay, my baby's cold or I want them to be cozy. So they will wrap them up in blankets or put blankets in the crib. But, um, the wearable blanket, it is a substitution for that. So at least in the United States, I don't know if you have listeners from other countries, they are very widely kind of known and adopted. And I would say, um, even people who are our customers, they purchase several different wearable blankets or swaddles because, you know, they might like a different material or they just wanna try see what works for their baby. Um, a lot of times parents will come to us and we're a newer company, so, oh, I didn't hear of you. Or, um, you know, I'm desperate for sleep. I need something different. Like ours is different because it's a sleep solution. So all the other ones, they offer a sleep, a, a safety alternative. And while we offer the safety alternative, we also offer the sleep solution from the even distribution of weight.

Nicole: Gotcha. Now, speaking of that, why is that weight a sleep solution?

Tara: So if, if anyone's familiar with weighted blankets for adults, it's the exact same concept. So you're giving babies and especially babies, because when we talked about that moral or startle reflex, it really comes back to the environmental stimuli. So our babies before the nineties, um, around the time that these wearable blankets came out, the AAP American Academy of Pediatrics also transitioned parents to having their baby sleep on their back. So we often hear back is best, but before that babies would sleep on their stomach. So they would get this weighted external stimuli. We talk about from their literally their own weight, because they're laying down on their stomach. It is comforting. It is soothing. And it is almost mimicking the swaddle sensation, right? Because baby is, is getting that St stimulation. Now the baby is on their back. This is a completely new, um, just something they've never experienced.

Tara: So if you think about baby going, being inside a mother's stomach for nine months, growing there, living there closed tight space. And even if you think about adults, like, I, I, I always call myself a baby the way I sleep with my eye mask, I need my, the darkened room. I need all the things. I, I need a weighted blanket, but I sleep a little bit curled up because that's the most comfortable position for me. And that is coming from being a baby and a kid and how I slept all along. And as an adult, like, that's my safe position. So it's not natural or safe for us to sleep on our back. It's just not a comfortable, you're not getting any kind of external stimulation. So sure. As, as a baby it's even further heightened, but it really just comes down to, um, science really.

Tara: And so with the even distribution of weight, it helps lower cortisol, which is that fight or flight. Like you feel scared you wanna run away. Increase serotonin the happy hormone, increase melatonin, which is that sleepy hormone. Gotcha. So you just, baby's gonna feel like it's, it's immediate, just like when an adult puts on a weighted blanket, they feel this immediate rush, almost like, um, thinking about being hugged, a hugging sensation has that same kind of little bit of Abu dopamine. It's very same thing. So they feel hugged, calm, relaxed, and now they're ready to move into sleep.

Nicole: Okay. Okay. Now I wanna talk about the safety. So, uh, I've seen some concerns that having something weighted on the baby, like you talked about could prevent the baby from moving around and, and, and rolling back over if need be. And that could theoretically increase the risk of SIDS. So how did you determine that your product is safe? What does that mean?

Tara: Yeah, so I think there's definitely, um, you know, there's some misinformation, so we do market our product as it is a wearable weighted blanket. And so people hear that. I think they often, again, think number one, loose, blanket. Number two, heavy, just like with adults. So ours is very light. It's 10% or less body weight. So for example, on our size small, which is indicated for infants who are eight pounds and larger, it is 0.8 pounds of beads. So it's a very light gentle sensation, but because it is distributed, there's no area that holds or weighs the baby down so that your baby can sit, they can stand, um, they can walk, they can turn, they can do anything they could do in a non weighted SleepSack. So there's no, there's no restriction of movement whatsoever.

Nicole: Okay.

Tara: Yeah. And there's movement in the legs to, to move around as well. Um, so, you know, I think, again, some people say, oh, AAP says no blankets until age two and you have a weighted blanket, but we have a wearable weighted blanket and the wearable blankets are encouraged by AAP for safe sleep. So we do follow the guidelines for that.

Nicole: Okay. So when you say wearable blanket, is that the same as the sleep sack?

Tara: Exactly.

Nicole: Okay. And what kind of like testing, or have you done any types of things to make sure that, you know, babies don't have trouble with, with it when they sleep?

Tara: Yeah, absolutely. So, um, we partnered with a hospital in Cincinnati who did a, a clinical trial. So they had infants in the NICU who were from five pounds to seven and half pounds using a one pound weighted blanket. And they had 24/7 observation vitals. Um, did not see any, there were no adverse reactions, um, efficacy in terms of helping maybe feel calm and extend sleep patterns was positive and all the safety elements were positive as well. In development of this product. It worked extensively with pediatricians, with pulmonologists, which study, um, breathing with certified sleep consultants who are, you know, were testing it with their patients and trying it out, not patients, uh, customers rather, um, who helped with their babies. We did internal testing and, um, you know, every, every marker. I mean, I looked at every possible scenario. You know, what, if this baby has an underlining pneumonia that the parent is not aware of and the weight is just not substantial enough to impede on breathing, to impede on movement, to weigh baby down because it is evenly distributed.

Tara: It is not isolated in any one particular place it's all over the body so there's no, you know, and, and we have a medical, um, we have a medical board, we have, um, a trial that we're gonna be starting in Boston, uh, in the next few months here that will look at, you know, deeper, larger trial multicenter study. Um, and I actually sit on one of the ASTM boards that defines standards for sleep sacks. So safety really is at the heart of everything we do as a mom of four and somebody with a medical background. I mean, I think again, we probably go overboard. And then in terms of like the CPSC and all the testing, we've done all the required testing, um, plus some, so

Nicole: What is, what is CPSC?

Tara: Um, it is the consumer product and safety commission. Okay. They set the standards for things like small parts for flammability, for sizing, for tag labeling. Um, I mean, there's probably 20 different things we test for.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And so, yeah, obviously that's encouraging that you've done studies in the NICU population, which is arguably potentially more vulnerable. I'm curious. How long did they wear the blankets in the, or wear the sacks at a time?

Tara: Um, I think they looked at like hour long hour, long segments or two hours. I'd have to look back at it, but, um, you know, it was 24/7 24/7 monitoring and the, the trial went on for, I wanna say like six months. So it was a series of, of duration of time.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. And then, um, I guess my last question related to safely safety, have you ever had any safety complaints that you know, regarding the products?

Tara: No, we have not. Nope.

Nicole: Okay. Okay. All right. So let's move on and give folks some just general practical advice about helping with sleep in general. So what are things that, or three things that new parents can do to help promote good sleep for their babies? Especially newborns.

Tara: Yeah. Oh, those newborns. Well, you know, when I started this business, um, we were on Shark Tank. And so now I was on the show and I, I shared my story and that my son at the time was six months old. So he was old enough to sleep on his own. Right. He was not a newborn right. Could have been sleeping through the night. And he wasn't. Um, you know, at that point I was, I had, had dropped the nighttime feed. So it was, it was not, there was nothing preventing him from sleeping other than he just wasn't sleeping. So when I first started the business, as, as every, um, entrepreneur, you are, you are doing the customer service and you're doing the social media post. Right. And so we, I would get at, especially right after the show, I'd have customers emailing us and saying, you know, the product didn't work my one week old, didn't sleep for 12 hours. And I'm like, whoa, whoa, whoa.

Nicole: Back it up, buttercup. That's not how it works.

Tara: I think it sounds so ridiculous to anyone, but, you know, I think sometimes first time moms, they just don't know what they don't know. And they hear sleep for 12 hours. Well, I want that too. And it's like, no, no, no, no, you need to be awake. Feeding your baby. Um, so I think the first thing is just, um, adjusting expectations and realizing when a baby comes home and they're a newborn, like there is nothing that is going to help them sleep through the night and they shouldn't be sleeping through the night because they need to be fed on demand, especially for those first few weeks to handle on what, um, kind of sleep you can expect for the baby's age. So I would say that's the first, I know it's a, it's a very crowded and noisy, um, with social media and where do you go?

Tara: And, and, you know, I always say like American Academy of Pediatrics is really gonna be the go to, if you are just looking for a straight scientific answer. We have some sleep consultants that we, that we work with and we love that are super reputable and, you know, they have clinical backgrounds and they put out some really great information. Um, I'd be happy to send you those after, so you can, um, you know, add 'em to the show notes if people wanna find them. Sure. So, you know, find somebody that you think is trusted and follow them because there's a lot of really great free advice on the internet, especially on Instagram, you know, from those trusted sources and, um, they'll do lives and they'll do free classes. And then, um, you know, at least you can have a baseline to really understand, like when should my baby be sleeping, how long should they be sleeping? So I think that would be the first thing I would say to new parents. It's like, really just understand that baseline.

Nicole: A hundred percent. Yeah.

Tara: The second thing that I hear, I feel like at this point I could be a sleep consultant for how I, I work with these guys and, and, uh, you know, really study. And we, we, um, again, safe sleep is just so important to our, my team and our company. I mean, it's really like our, our north star, if you will. So sure. Partner with first candle and we, our whole team is certified in their safe sleep training. So, you know, the next thing really would be in both safe, safe sleep, and just sleep in general would be get the baby into their own crib. And, um, you, if possible, do not co-sleep if you choose to co-sleep, then there's some great resources how to do that safely. Um, it's every mom's decision, but you know, if you are really just going for like, how do I have the safest sleep and the most effective sleep it's gonna be baby in their crib or bassinet on their own, um, putting baby to, into their bed awake.

Tara: That's a huge one and placing them on their back. So the idea behind why you wanna put baby to bed versus we see some moms who rock to sleep, who nursed, and then they do that kind of ninja crawl away. You are doing that. And then your baby is using you as a sleep cue. They're not able identify their environment and identify when to sleep on their own. So if your baby then wakes up at two in the morning, let's say, they're going to look for you to rock them back to sleep, to nurse them back to sleep. Versus if you are putting them asleep in their crib on their own, then they can learn the skills, how to fall asleep on their own for the first time. So then when they wake up at two in the morning, instead of crying for you, they're gonna look around and say, I've been here before I've done this before I can do this again.

Tara: So right. Sleep is actually a learned skill. I think as parents, we believe, okay, you are born and it's just natural to like eat, you know, eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, right? Like those are just things that were innately knowing how to do. But if you think about the first time, um, you've fed your baby rice cereal, for example, it's that first time where they're trying solids, they spit it out. It's all over their face. Like they don't know how to swallow it. Um, or even the first time breastfeeding, like there's a training time to happen for that to happen. And so sleep is the same thing. It's not babies, just a get born and know how to sleep. They truly have to learn a skill. So this is why sleep training has become so popular. And again, it's, for some people it's not for everyone.

Tara: And you really need to you as a mom know what's best, but in terms of putting your baby to bed, um, awake, that is going to be the single, like number one thing you can do to give your baby that skill. And then the third tip that I would say is really just getting on a routine and a schedule and sticking to it. So for example, with dream line, baby, our product, um, at six months old, my son was old enough to recognize that when he saw that he would cry because he knew it was time for that he was gonna go for a nap or nighttime. So you get your baby to a point where when they walk into their room, they cry a little bit because they know it's time, it's time for a nap because they know the environment. They know that when they go into their crib, it's time for a nap when they get that bath and they get the book with mom and they get the rocking in the chair and maybe some milk before bed, like they know they're starting to wind down. So it's not necessarily that they need to cry, but that's not uncommon. And a lot of parents think, oh, my baby just hates the nursery or they hate their crib. Well, no, they know that they're going to sleep. And even now my son he's the best sleeper in the world, which I truly never thought I'd say, but he's gonna be four, um, on March 29th. And it's early February now. So in about a month and he still sleeps, he takes a three hour nap every day.

Nicole: Nice. Okay.

Tara: Truly like amazing. And now he has graduated up to, he sleeps with a weight, a loose weighted blanket. Um, so he's it up to, that's a little bit heavier. So it's appropriate for his body size and weight. And we just keep making bigger siz bigger sizes for him. But, you know, going back to the environment, you wanna get that routine. And then, um, you wanna have a nap schedule as well. So schedule and routine. So if you're waking up your baby every day at eight o'clock, you know, you really wanna try to stick to that on the weekends as well. And this is, I understand Nicole easier said than done, like when I had my fourth. I mean, if he got a nap in the car that was great because I was shuttling around three other kids and picking him up from school. So it's not always possible, but if you had extra help or it's your first baby, that's really the most ideal. So wake time, same every day, nap time, same every day, uh, bedtime with a routine, same time every day that that's gonna be your most consistent, um, um, way to get more sleep.

Nicole: Yep. Excellent. Excellent advice. And you said, you mentioned first candle. What is that?

Tara: So first candle is, um, they are a safe sleep and bereavement organization, the United States. Um, and so they focus on, um, safe sleep, really and giving, um, advice to women. And, um, they, they work with EV everyone really, but, um, they have a special emphasis on, um, just education and, you know, some partnerships with underprivileged communities where education might be lacking to really give women tools of safe sleep. One thing that I love so much about them, like I had mentioned the, the co-sleeping right. They brought a new set to my eyes where, you know, traditionally I say, oh, co-sleeping is not safe, but they said, you know what? We are not gonna shame women. We're gonna meet them where they are. So if they are co-sleeping, we're gonna show 'em the safest way to do that. And, you know, with the eventual goal of getting baby to their own bed, but like, if women are smoking, we're gonna try to give them the best tools to, you know, quit smoking or not smoking your baby.

Tara: You know, cause these are all risks of SIDS, right? To really help educate women, to get them to a spot where they can give their baby the safest sleep environment. And they also offer bereavement services. So if you've had a loss, um, and that can range from miscarriage to, um, a SIDs death an accidental death, any kind of infant, um, death that occurs, they have a hotline that you can reach, uh, 24/7 and a wonderful community to, um, you know, really grieve and with other people who have walked in your shoes. So they really have a dual purpose, but all, all of it is surrounding safe sleep with newborns.

Nicole: Okay. I never heard of it before, so oh yeah. That's why I ask yeah. Learn something new every day. So then what are some tips, um, for parents like parents, things that, that they can do for themselves, like, and to help manage the challenges of sleep when you have a new baby.

Tara: Oh, that is a good one. So I actually, um, I actually have a podcast and we don't, we don't talk about dreamland baby, but it's more for community. It it's, uh, it's a mom manual and we give, um, kind of tips and tricks. And so I had a sleep consult come on and she actually does, um, maternity sleep, which is so specialized and something I'd never even known was a thing. And she talked about how, when you are pregnant sleep that you get can not always, but it can be a factor in your infants sleep. So there's, there's a biological factor. And then there's also kind of a, um, nature versus nurture right? Like the environment you're in factor. Sure. And so it's talking about, and this is, I was telling someone on our team about it and they were like, oh, great. Like give, you know, moms who are pregnant and nervous one more thing. And I said,

Tara: It's, that's not the intent. That is like, if you're not doing this, your baby's gonna be a terrible sleeper, but it's just more to emphasize like how important sleep really is. I mean, it's so important for anybody but particularly. Yeah. When you are growing a human, like you're tired, you need extra sleep, you need to slow down. I think as women, we try to do it all and be it all. And in this culture that says, you know, do more, be more, go work full time, run the house full time. Yeah. And so I think it's, it's, it's really just emphasizing, you know, take care of you, take some rest time, make sure that you are getting kind of basically the sleep you need. Don't be burning the candle at both ends. But I thought that was really interesting. So, um, it's gonna be the same thing for an adult as a baby, really.

Tara: Like you wanna get that routine for yourself. So if that is a bath to wind down, if it's reading a book, if it's, um, you know, we, we know the big, no-no is don't be on the phone late at night. Not only cuz you get sucked into Instagram, but also because looking at a blue light, you shouldn't watch TV before bed, you should have a dark room. Um, and it's gonna be personal sleep preference. So for me, I don't like to hear any noise. So I sleep with earplugs and I don't like any light at all. So I sleep with a sound with an eye mask and I like to have the stimulation of the, and I shouldn't use the word stimulation because it's, it's the opposite of that, the calming effect of the weighted blanket. So I sleep with a weighted blanket as well.

Tara: So I feel like I really am in this kind of cocoon when I go to sleep in, you know, that's, that's what works for me. I prioritize eight hours of sleep. I think I really could use about 10 every night, but anywhere from seven to nine is what most, um, adults need. And eight is really that sweet spot. Um, but it's really just making it a priority and you know, I, I love, um, there's a, a quote or saying and, and it talks about like the best way to prepare for your morning is the night before. And so if we can just know, you know, if oftentimes I get it, like my, I have four kids were running around like at night, a lot of times, that's the time for me to like connect with my husband and watch a show together and talk. But you know, we're both, we're both really busy and I wake up at six 30 every day, so I need to be asleep at 10 30 and my kids don't go to bed until about 8, 8 30.

Tara: So it's not a lot of time to hang out or do anything after, but I am committed to getting my eight hours of sleep cuz I know if I don't, I'm just gonna not feel great the next day. Um, so that commitment, getting yourself a routine, um, and then waking up early every day, like at the same time every day, again, just like kind of a baby, like if you are waking up every day at six 30, for example, but then on the weekends you sleep till 12, you're gonna get out of your cycle of going to bed early, waking up early or you know, average time, whatever you wanna say. So it's just being consistent in your times that you go to sleep and wake up.

Nicole: Sure, sure. Now obviously those things are a bit challenging when you have a newborn, but there's certainly goals to look for in the or things you can do during pregnancy, for sure. And then once you get through that newborn period, things to look forward to, or to try to strive for, um, once you get past that initial craziness of having a newborn.

Tara: Yeah. And I would say, you know, if you, if you have a partner, um, that can help you, uh, or you know, a friend or a parent and they say, Hey, let me, let me come over and take the baby for an hour. So you can take a nap during the day. Um, or let me, you know, if you have someone who lives with you, you know, partner, mom, I'll take the baby tonight, so you can sleep through the night. You know, if you're breastfeeding, maybe you pump ahead of time. But I would say really again, we, I think oftentimes try to be like superwoman and it's, you know, the more suffering we can have, the, the better we're doing. And it's just not the case. Like if you have help ask for it and if you don't do, you know, if you can't afford it, um, a nightmare, which, I mean, I couldn't, but could you trade off with a friend or, you know, exchange in some other way, but just get that help and don't be shy to ask for it cuz people wanna help you too. I mean, I think that's a takeaway.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think it definitely our society, doesn't always, you know, support people asking for help, but when you have a new baby, definitely ask for help. One of the things that I talk about is maybe considering like, uh, a lot of folks know about a doula during pregnancy, but you can also have a postpartum doula. Yeah. Who can certainly help a lot. It's one of the things that I tell folks like don't, you don't necessarily need to put 500 onesies on your, um, baby registry. Maybe you have someone contribute towards your postpartum doula and even, and even if you can't get how, like some people are like, well, God, I can't afford a doula. You'd be surprised. Number one, it doesn't necessarily have to be every single night in order to help you. Right? Like even if you can know like, Ooh, Sunday night is my night where I know the person is coming and I'm gonna be able to sleep or I'm gonna be able to do the things that I need to do. Even those little bits, little bits, um, of help can, can, can make a, a huge difference. So definitely think about that for sure.

Tara: Absolutely. And you know, the other one, I think to that effect too, is sleep when your baby's sleeping. So I, I know when I had my first daughter, I was like, oh, okay, she's sleeping now. Now is my time to do the laundry or make a dinner or, you know, clean up the house or whatever. But in those first few months, like you really just focus us on yourself. It doesn't matter what your house looks like. It doesn't matter if your husband or partner or boyfriend, if they're fed, like they can feed themselves. We have DoorDash now, right? Like again, just, we don't have to be that superhero. So sleep when the baby sleeps that's that's, which only really works for the first, because then you have a toddler with the second that's out the window. But, um, definitely, maybe the takeaway is as a first time mom, you still have it really good. I know a lot first time moms feel really overwhelmed, but just remember there's nobody else you need to take care of, but you and the baby, so really lean into that and take advantage of that.

Nicole: Yes. Yes. And just to, to put the, you know, wrap that, that point up, that is another thing when you're asking for help, you can ask for help that says, Hey, come over and can you just do my laundry or can you, you know, cook dinner? Or can you bring me a meal so that you don't feel like when the baby is sleeping, that you have to go clean up that you have to go do the laundry, cuz you can ask your help to do those other things too.

Tara: Right? Exactly.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So as we wrap up, what is the most frustrating part of your work

Tara: Of my work? Hmm. Well, in the last year it's been shipping if anyone's been oh

Nicole: Yeah, yeah.

Tara: Following the logistics, it has um, gone up, I think 4000% and uh, uh, slowed down about 200%. It hasn't been great. But um, you know, I think outside of that, you know, I, I have, um, a group of friends who are all women, all moms, all own baby brands. And we, we linked up all when we first started. So we're all about two to three years into the business. And um, you know, somebody was complaining about something in their day and, and I was like, you guys, you know, and I'm having a particularly good week. So it was, it was able to be, I was able to be the uplifting one of the group, but I said, you know, this is such a journey. And there was this, um, thing on Instagram and it said, I quit my nine to five to work 24/7, which is what it is with a, with a small business.

Tara: But, um, it's so rewarding and being able to build something and you know, for me, we get these emails from, from parents and uh, grandparents and gift givers and you know, the mom and the dad and, and they're saying things like you changed my life. You've saved my life. You gave me my life back and it's, it's so rewarding to know that we are helping other parents get sleep. And as a mom of four who had three kids who slept fairly well. And I remember just how much I loved and adored those first months to be able to contrast that to my son who was up every hour and a half. And I was truly miserable. I was angry at him. I resented my newborn baby. And it was really sad. I, it was a dark, sad time of my life. I didn't really leave my house.

Tara: I was a bad mom. I was a bad friend. I did nothing for myself. I love working out. It's like my mental, just my mental break for, you know, 30, 40 minutes every day. And I didn't work out. I didn't even go on a walk. I barely went outside. And so to contrast those two, um, kind of experiences, well really three experiences to the one. I know what parents are going through moms in particular. And just to be able to help a woman who says like I was there, I was in that horrible place. I'm like, I know where you were. Like, I walked in your shoes and to hear that they've come out the other side cuz of our product. I mean, truly it is. There's nothing more rewarding than that. So awesome. It's enjoying the journey and um, you know, clinging onto any wins and celebrating the wins with our team. Uh, I think that's what gets me through the, the tough times of being an entrepreneur.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha. Gotcha. And then last thing, what's your favorite piece of advice that you like to give to expecting families?

Tara: Oh, expecting families. Um, Hmm. I think really just, you know, it, you hear all the time like, oh, you're gonna blink and they're in college and I have a daughter who's nine now. And it feels like that where it was just a moment ago. She was this little chubby toddler running into my arms and now she's moving toward these teenage years and same thing with, with a baby where, you know, this too shall pass. And if it feels really hard and heavy and a lot, and especially moms that have postpartum depression, like it, it will pass and try to really enjoy the moment because it goes very quickly. And depending on how many kids you have, you won't, you won't, I mean, you'll never get this experience of being a first time mom or a second time mom or a third time mom again with that particular baby. So as hard as it is, note that the hard times will pass and just really try to be present in the moment and like smell those newborn smells and hold those newborn fingers and just try to take a mental shot of it because it just goes by so quick.

Nicole: I mean, that is so true. It, it, it sounds so cliche, but it really, really is true. Like we're my oldest who was a 32 week preemie, you know, is now and spent a month in the NICU is now in ninth grade. And we're like, gettin ready to start thinking about college. And that like gives me anxiety

Tara: During those times. So eight weeks you were in the NICU, you were like, I just wanna get past this. I wanna leave this. I wanna be, you know, I'm sure you would say to yourself like this, this taught you, you know, taught you so much and made you resistant and gave you resilience and just helped you be the mom that you are today. Like just, just try to embrace like the positive and the moments of, of this motherhood journey and just like journey. Right. We so often are looking for where is the destination? When will they sleep? When will they not be in diapers anymore? When will they stop crying? When can they buckle themselves? And all of a sudden you take a step back and you're like, I'm wishing my child's life away, their childhood. Right. Right. And, and I, I tell you, as my girls are entering pre preteen, uh, the baby phase is pretty darn easy.

Nicole: Yeah. That brings a whole new set of challenge.

Tara: Exactly. You go from a physical challenge to a mental challenge. So

Nicole: For sure, for sure. So where can people find you and, um, dream land, baby?

Tara: Yeah, so we, we're on, uh, we're kind of on all the places and our handle is dreamlandbabyco. So dreamland baby co.com and then we're on Instagram, um, TikTok, you know, Twitter. I mean, we're, we're literally in all the places, but I would say most active on Instagram.

Nicole: Okay. All right. Well, thank you so much. This was a really informative conversation. I know folks will find it helpful.

Tara: Yeah. Thank you for having me, Nicole have a wonderful day.

Nicole: So wasn't it a great conversation. I just think it's so inspiring that she started this business from an idea that she had just, you know, with her own experience and then how it has grown to help so many others. Now, after every episode, when I have someone on, I do something called Dr. Nicole's Notes, where I talk about my top takeaways from the conversation, and here are my Dr. Nicole's Notes from my conversation with Tara. Number one, I really found it interesting, the explanation that she talked about, of how the weighted concept would work for babies, especially with them being back to sleep. Like I can totally see how being curled up and that weight of being on the baby would be comforting and how, when you put them on their back, they lose that. So I totally, totally, um, really appreciated that explanation. Now, with that being said, I do wanna be clear that there's no guarantee that all products will work, will work for every person or every baby.

Nicole: So don't expect any like miracles or, you know, don't be disappointed if you try something and it doesn't necessarily work. We'll find the same thing with like toys and, and gadgets and things sometimes that you have for baby. So there's no guarantee, but this is certainly worth a try. If you're having difficulties in trouble with your baby sleeping. Number two, I want to echo what she said about finding trusted sources and sticking with them. You do not need to follow everyone. You do not need to be like everywhere. Doing all the things all the time, pick two or three trusted sources that resonate with you. I consider myself a trusted source, but pick two or three trusted sources that resonate with you about pregnancy, about birth, about postpartum period, about children. Don't feel like you have to follow all the things and all the people, because honestly, in some ways we're saying similar things, we're just saying it in different ways because he, people are going to hear it and receive it in different ways.

Nicole: So find trusted sources, stick with them. Don't need to follow everyone. Of course, if you do wanna follow me, do come follow me on Instagram. That's my main platform where I hang out and provide information, show up live. Good, great stuff there. So follow me on Instagram @drnicoleankins. All right. Number three, your sleep is important. So don't forget to focus on your own sleep in the context of having a newborn baby. Don't forget that or something I always say is that in order to have a healthy baby, you first have to have a healthy mom. So do focus on your own health as well. Your sleep is important. Also related to that, give yourself some grace, try out sleep routine, do the best you can. I remember with my older one, she would like if she saw us after we laid her down, she would immediately start screaming.

Nicole: So we would have to lay her in the crib and then like get down on the floor and like ninja crawl out of the room. That was the only way to get her to sleep. And when she was really, really little, we had to swaddle her really tight and put a pacifier just a certain way to get her to sleep. So give yourself some grace, try different things, do the best you can. And also remember that your sleep is important too. And then the last thing I wanna say is that if you want to try out some of the dream land baby products, I have a discount code for you. It's called Dr. Nicole 15, and you will get a discount on the products that is an affiliate code. So I do get a little bit of anything that you, um, buy using that code, but you get a discount to again, that's Dr.

Nicole: Nicole 15, D R N I C O L E 1 5. DrNicole15 and their website is dreamlandbabyco.com. All right. So there you have it. Do me a favor, share this episode with a friend. Also subscribe to the podcast wherever you are listening to me right now and leave me overview. I'd love to hear what you think about the show and it helps the show to grow. And don't forget to check out the birth plan class, Make A Birth Plan The Right Way that's drnicolerankins.com/register. All right. So that's it for this episode do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.