The more things change, the more things stay the same, it’s said. Breastfeeding babies has been around as long as there have been…well, babies to feed; and La Leche League has been around since the 1950s. But we still read news stories like the recent one about a Michigan judge who publicly humiliated a woman for nursing her sick infant while waiting for hours for her case to be heard in his courtroom.
Though public attitudes sometimes take a long time to catch up with social progress, women who choose to breastfeed their infants, or to use cloth diapers instead of disposables, at least have more options available today than in earlier decades. There are lots of small entrepreneurs out there — many of them new mothers themselves, who identified an unfilled market niche based on their own babies’ needs — coming up with innovative solutions for parents who seek healthy, holistic, environmentally friendly ways to care for their little ones.
The trick is finding a one-stop shop where a broad selection of these new baby-friendly products can be obtained — preferably without having to travel a great distance. Donna Bruschi of New Paltz, who was a La Leche League volunteer for 13 years while studying to obtain her credentials as an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant, noticed that the women in the mothers’ groups that she led had to drive to Poughkeepsie or Kingston or even further to purchase a nursing bra or rent a breast pump. She began to stock some of the products that she and her clients liked best in a space that she was renting at the Sanctuary Holistic Center on Academy Street. They proved so popular that Bruschi’s operation soon outgrew the space, and she set out to identify a new location.
The results of her search have now been unveiled to the public: New Baby New Paltz held its grand opening this past Saturday. The new space is located on the ground floor of the wood-sided building at 15 Plattekill Avenue, accessible via a ground-level “stroller entrance” directly from the municipal parking lot. It includes a bright, baby-friendly playroom with mats covering the floor, where parent/child playgroups can meet regularly; a separate office space for private lactation consultations; and a central retail area, jam-packed with great baby stuff that you’d normally need to surf the Web to purchase.
For instance, New Baby New Paltz sells nursing bras in 46 sizes, as well as reasonably priced nursing tops — a popular tank line goes for only $15.99 each. There’s a whole section of breast pumps and nursing pads, related gadgets and storage systems that make it easier than most of us older Moms ever dreamed to pump while on breaks at work and keep the breast milk at a safe temperature until we could bring it home. There are homeopathic remedies for the common complaints of infancy, smoothly sanded wooden rattles and teething toys, easy-to-carry containers of organic baby snacks, adorable handknit and crocheted baby hats and booties.
One product that impressed me was the Serene Sling. This Japanese invention, made of compact, stretchy, breathable knit fabric, is light-years ahead of the voluminous cotton-sheeting sling that was the only thing available back in the days when my teenager was an infant. Several of the Moms browsing the shop at the Grand Opening were carrying their babies snugly nested against their chests in Serene Slings. But if you want another brand — the kind with all sorts of adjustable straps and buckles — Donna Bruschi has a workshop for you, titled “Bring Your Sling,” where the mysteries of how to wear it are thoroughly explained for the neophyte.
In these times when we’re becoming more aware of the need to reduce our carbon footprints — even for tiny baby feet — many parents are looking for travel-friendly alternatives to the use of disposable diapers that are clogging our landfills. Using cloth diapers is kinder to the environment and healthier for babies’ bottoms; but transporting soiled nappies home after a changing used to seem too unwieldy for many parents on the go.
Part of New Baby New Paltz is set aside for products designed to address these issues: Michelle Nacy — known around town as the Diaper Diva — is representing the GroVia line of all-in-one diaper wraps with attached cloth diaper inserts. They’re form-fitting like a disposable, breathable like a regular cloth diaper and launder like a dream: You just throw the whole thing, diaper and wrap together, into the wash. You can even dodge the unpleasant task of rinsing out the solid wastes first by inserting a thin, compostable, flushable liner called a BioSoaker. “You can buy a washer and dryer for what you’d spend on disposables for a single baby,” notes Nacy, who has her own website at www.positivelybirth.com. “We use this stuff, so we’re here to answer all the questions.”
Besides selling a great selection of baby gear that you just can’t find all in one place anywhere else in New Paltz, Bruschi will use the new space to host all sorts of discussion groups for new parents featuring guest speakers from the community, as well as activity-intensive playgroups for the little ones, such as Music Together classes. There will even be a “Moms’ Night Out” once a month, where the Dads and babies will convene in the play space while the Moms get a rare breather from being the primary caregiver.
“I love my work,” says Bruschi. “I love empowering Moms to do the best things for their kids.” As she will continue with her lactation consulting work, which requires her to make house calls, she will keep New Baby New Paltz open officially from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays — and on Sundays through the holidays — but is also available by appointment at other times. Find out more about the myriad of services and products available through New Baby New Paltz at https://donnabruschi.com/New_Baby_New_Paltz.html, or call 750-4402. ++