by Kim Chappell, Editorial Director of Milk-Drunk
You will know when you have met a mom who has used the Moms on Call method for sleep training and well, raising a baby. You’ll know because they likely won’t shut up about how it changed their life, how well their baby sleeps, and how they actual feel sane again. We wanted to get straight to the source of the hype and learn what the founders of Moms on Call (two moms who were on call nurses that answered all of the parents’ questions in the middle of the night for years) believe in when it comes to getting a baby to sleep through the night, fed, and the change they’ve seen in parenting since they started this company more than a decade ago. Let’s dive right in.
Q: Moms on Call has become the go-to resource for thousands of moms looking for structure for their baby and guidance on routine, scheduling, and what the heck to do when they get home from the hospital with baby. Why do you think parents are seeking this out now more than ever?
MOC: A concise guide that is not filled with options – just a right hand line and a left hand line and a clear way forward. Parents today have information overload, too many voices. At Moms on Call we recommend that parents limit the number of voices speaking into their intimate parenting decisions to people who have an invested interest in the outcome, maybe a few good friends with kids and a small number of resources but overall the absolute best person to make decisions on behalf of that baby or babies is the parent. We want to empower parents to be well-rested, have some predictable times in their routine to sleep, feed, laugh and love this incredible journey. Instead of the “struggle is real” – we say “the juggle is real!” There is work and home and changes of all varieties, and we consider it a privilege to partner with parents all over the world to make sustainable habits that serve everyone.
Q: What is the basis of the Moms on Call Method and how do you all know that it works?
MOC: More than 30 years of Pediatric nursing experience, 8 kids of our own and partnering with thousands of families for over 18 years. We spread by word of mouth as one of the first resources to be written from the perspective of the mom who was actually implementing the day-to-day. We knew what moms wanted to know because we are moms – we felt the same feelings and had the same thoughts and brought that perspective to what we wrote and did (and why our books are in outline format – quick and simple). At first we just put together everything we thought new families needed to know to sleep and have a bit more confidence in the daily activities of life. We were surprised at how consistently it worked over and over and we now have thousands of testimonials (that we did not ask for – they just came rolling in and still do!) and that is when we knew we had to do what it took to make this available in households everywhere – because it was changing lives, saving marriages and giving direction to so many families and they reached out wanting to send our resources everywhere from a neighboring state to half-way across the world. The most satisfying part of that is that we are bringing confidence to parents in the midst of all the day to day realities. Providing a consistent environment and routine has families telling us that they are more confident, happy and rested. That thrills us to this day.
Q: You all were founded by two moms who were the on call nurses that used to field middle of the night questions from parents more than a decade ago. How do you think parenting has changed since you started MOC- what have you all seen first hand in how moms and dads approach parenting?
MOC: When we started MOC most homes still had VCR players and dial up internet! We were one of the first resources to include an instructional DVD in the back (which our kids helped us paste into the back of our books). No one was more excited to have the video accesses we have today then us (and our kids!). The ease of access has changed to where now you have all the info at your fingertips. But that has also been negative, as when you have too much information you have a hard time deciding which direction to go. Families look different than they did. We see many more families that may consist of two moms, two dads, single parents. MIllennial dads are some of our favorites.They are attentive and loving dads. They are so present and involved. And Millennial moms have to sort through more information than any other time in history – every one of these sweet mommas is sorting and reading and searching. And there is this pressure to cultivate a parenting style or voice that is acceptable to the masses. That kind of pressure takes such mental energy (as if raising a baby wasn’t enough!). But the love that parents have for their kids – that has not changed. And babies and toddlers that respond to basic routine and love sleeping long stretches – that hasn’t changed.
Q: Your Book is known for the holy grail of schedules. The one page that helps a new parent understand what a typical day looks like. What does a structured and consistent daytime routine have to do with nighttime sleep?
MOC: When we have key things in place it helps everyone to tell time, to know what comes next and to have some predictability without being so scheduled you can’t enjoy life or so flexible that you cannot enjoy your baby. There is a nice middle ground and it does not change on the basis of what time the baby woke up last. It harnesses this powerful thing called a 24 hour clock that ticks inside of us all and is connected to hormones and the restorative nature of sleep. And raising a newborn especially gives you so many things to count – not just fingers and toes but number of ounces, number of diapers, intervals between feedings, and so, as far as the schedule is concerned, we do all the math! We just write it out with times and instructions to give this solid foundation that anchors our home life.
Q: One of the biggest myths you like to dispel is “never wake a sleeping baby.” Why is it that we actually sometimes NEED to wake a sleeping baby to guarantee more sleep later?
MOC: If they sleep too long during the day then that little rhythm gets off and their nights and days can get mixed up. So, we try to stick to about 2 hours max (give or take ) during the day so that we can get longer stretches at night. So for us – starting around 2-4 weeks of age never wake a healthy, sleeping baby (that is growing and thriving) at night – but wake them up all day long (our routines tell you when and how so there is no guess-work). We have step-bystep daytime and nighttime instructions so we can get those longer stretches in developmentally appropriate increments.
Q: What is your advice for dealing with nagging grandparents or friends who don’t think there is any value in a schedule or don’t follow baby’s schedule?
MOC: Well we always come from you can only control what you can control and grandparents are not one of them. We feel the best way to communicate that is to simply say “This allows us to enjoy the day and have a plan.” And the value of having grandparents in your child’s life (even ones that are not interested in using methods that you put in place) is so valuable. So, we encourage parents to embrace the value of that. Find the good moments and we can fill your inner voice with encouragement at Moms on Call, just in case you do not have a friend or a family member that does it for you.Seriously – it is almost the entire intent of our Instagram and woven into everything we do. Thank you for supporting us in that
Q: Let’s talk about feeding- what I appreciate most is that you all prioritize breastfeeding- but not at all costs. If it works, great, but if it doesn’t you openly talk about and recommend formula in your book. What is the Moms on Call approach to feeding?
MOC: We believe that good parents feed their babies. We have been there. We have nursed, we have nursed and supplemented, we have done only bottles. You know what? Nobody knows which kid was which. And they all bonded beautifully. We believe that you find what works in your family, in this season of life and with the baby you got. The most important thing isn’t how you chose to feed but it is the heart of the one doing the feeding that makes the bond – which is a great and hopeful message not only for moms of all varieties but for dads, grandparents, foster families, adoptive parents, aunts, uncles and caregivers.
Q: How have you seen the pressure to exclusively breastfeed hit a boiling point since you started MOC? Why do you think moms feel like they have to feed a certain way and what can we do to change the judgement that often comes with formula?
MOC: With social media everyone seems to “know” what everyone is doing. Yes, with that, opinions can be very LOUD. Encouraging families to make the decisions for their families without the voices of every “friend or follower” helping. Understanding that your situation is unique. Your goals are unique. That you do not have to be all nursing or all formula. There are options. And we always encourage our parents to parent out of truth and not fear. So, if something they are reading is constantly making them afraid they are not enough or that they are not doing this beautiful, chaotic thing called parenting right – then it is time to find the voices that tell you the truth about who you are and the decisions you make will follow.
Q: Let’s talk about swaddling. You all swear by it- so much so you designed your own swaddle. Is swaddling a must for the moms on call method?
MOC: There are three things nurses know about swaddles. It has to be tight in the right places, it cannot restrict movement of the hip and it has to be secure up to the time that the baby begins to lose that startle reflex (typically around 3 months). So we take all of those into account. First it is safe, then it is soft and it is tight in all the right places.(Oh, and it is huge – so that baby that typically doubles their birth weight by 4 months of age can fit into it snugly until around that 3 month mark). It takes some practice to get it right but we have tried every swaddle known to mankind (manufacturing these was never our intent) but there is just nothing that we have found that works the same way the MOC technique does. The right swaddle can be the difference between a 2 hour stretch of sleep and a 4-6 hour stretch of sleep. We have found that when swaddled correctly they sleep better which then results in them feeding better which then means they eat better! It is all connected
Q: What else did I miss? How can people connect and how to start with MOC?