Interview with Tonya Sakowicz: Founder of Newborn Care Solutions
Tonya Sakowicz, the founder of Newborn Care Solutions, is a child care professional with 31 years of experience. She is a board member of the INA and regularly teaches at national child care conferences. She is also the author of The Newborn Care Training Workbook.
During an interview, she speaks about her experience, the reasons why she created her company and elaborates on the value that newborn care specialists bring to the families they work with.
Interview with Tonya Sakowicz
by Clarke Illmatical
Based on the information I found online, you’ve been working in newborn care for over 29 years?
“I’ve been working in the nanny industry, this is actually my 31st year… We’re almost exclusively with newborns. When I work with a family, I start when they have a newborn.”
You developed an interest in newborns when you were very young…
“I started babysitting when I was 10 and literally had a newborn when I was only 11 years old, a mom handed me a two-week old baby… I’ve been working full-time as a nanny since I was 19 years old. I learned very early on that I like working with newborns especially.”
Are you a member of the INA?
“Yes. I’m a member and I sit on their international board as executive vice president.”
What are some of the things a newborn care specialist should be concerned with compared to another nanny?
“A newborn care specialist is predominately focused on establishing a good routine that works well with the family, nannies do that as well, but when nannies come along that routine is already established. They really focus on healthy eating and sleep habits. A well trained newborn care specialist is going to recognize potential medical issues that are specific to newborns, that show up during the first few weeks of life. They’re not doctors… but they can alert families of potential problems. And many times a nanny, even if the family has a new baby, she doesn’t have specific training in that. A nanny, a qualified newborn care specialist should be able to support a mother who is breastfeeding… They should understand how to establish a good pattern, how to establish good sleep habits, how to recognize symptoms of postpartum depression, we’re not medical professionals, but we should be trained in recognizing the symptoms and point the family to their select professionals who can help them.”
How was your newborn care training program developed?
“I’ve been doing training for the International Nanny Association, I use to do training for the National Association, I trained for something in here in the U.S. called National Nanny Training Day and then I’ve been doing training for agencies… the more classes that I started developing, people would say to me ‘Can you come in and teach a class on this?’ I realized there was a huge void out there on high-quality information on working with newborns. My husband is an entrepreneur and has been pushing me for a long time to develop and turn this into an official business, rather than just teach a class here and there, to be perfectly honest he was a big driving force behind turning this into a formal business.”
I notice that you have books on Amazon and on your website, do you offer a certification program?
“When they take our class, we have different levels of training, our foundational program which is the first program, is our introductory level program. It is specifically designed for nannies and others who already have childcare experience. Our class is not for someone who doesn’t know how to change a diaper, it’s not for someone who doesn’t understand baby basics. Ours is specifically geared towards people who have experience working with babies and maybe not necessarily newborns. Or they want to exclusively focus on and that training, it goes in-depth on everything they need to know, to really get started working as a newborn care specialist. Our books that are on Amazon are supportive of our training… we have three other levels beyond our foundational and advanced… We have what’s called our New Elite and Experienced Elite. Those are both one year long programs. Then we have a Master NCS program which is an additional one-year long program.”
This training, is this something that students do online?
“Our foundational and advanced are available online. We also teach them in-person… Our New Elite, Experienced Elite and Master NCS program are not available in general as online programs. That’s something that you actually have to apply to be part of. Be approved to be part of that program, then it is customized every year for the group of students that are in it… I teach it live every single month.”
Why aren’t more nannies members of the INA?
“I think a lot of them don’t even know about the INA and we’re working really hard to change that. But also, I think there are a lot of nannies who don’t see the value in INA. That’s something we’re working to change, showing them the value of being a part of a professional organization, or sometimes they don’t want to be held to a professional standard… a lot of times, they’re being paid cash and that’s illegal. And they don’t understand that it’s a negative for them to be paid cash…”
If a nanny or a newborn care specialist does her job well, does this indirectly promote jealousy?
“There are certain women who do experience that, it is not uncommon for them to feel that, but I would say that a very good newborn care specialist is paying attention to what they are seeing and our role is always to support and encourage that mother and child relationship. That doesn’t mean that those feelings don’t exist, I think they’re very normal and very natural, especially for a postpartum mother. A newborn care specialist pays attention to what’s going on and works to support and encourage moms to make her feel confident and ultimately, that is my goal whenever I work with a family… when I leave, I leave a healthy, confident and empowered mother.”
Professionally, shouldn’t nannies be doing things to increase their marketability? Is it beneficial for them to enroll in your training?
“It’s only beneficial if newborns are what they enjoy doing. Everybody thinks it is just holding and rocking babies and it’s not. It particular, what we do is either we’re working around the clock, 24-hour shifts, or we are working overnight. While I think it benefits a nanny’s portfolio to have training, and I always encourage training, if newborns are not your thing, if you don’t like newborn babies there is no point in doing it, but if you like newborns and working with them it is very beneficial.”
Do parents do enough research when it comes to newborn care, hiring the right people?
“It’s a new concept to parents, they don’t necessarily do enough research into what is really a high-quality newborn care specialist. I have worked with many people who call themselves newborn care specialists and they have no business doing that… they’re doing lots of things, in my opinion, and from a scientific standpoint, not necessarily beneficial to the babies that they’re taking care of. A lot of times parents don’t realize that they have someone in their home that isn’t doing a good job. I don’t think it’s that parents aren’t good at doing the research, I think it’s more that it’s an unfamiliar concept, that they don’t even know what they should look for.”
A newborn care specialist, what duration of time will they work with a family?
“In general, most newborn care specialist are hired to work with a family, approximately between two and twelve to sixteen weeks. I would say twelve to sixteen weeks is more the norm…”
Are there any emotional effects of working in newborn care?
“It’s no different that any other profession when you’re caring for children. If you’re good at it, you care about kids. You can’t do this for any length of time if you don’t care about children, particularly newborn care… they’re working 12 to 24 hours a day… they’re working long, long hours. They have to love what they do.”
At the end of the 16 weeks, what are their objectives?
Being successful of course is dependent on the family and the goals of the family… in general by 16 weeks, the goal is that the baby has nice strong healthy eating habits, whether that is breastfeeding or whether that is bottle feeding or whether it’s a combination of both. A newborn care specialist role is not to judge the decision that the mother makes or the parents make. Her role is to support and help them be successful. With whatever decision they’ve made. To have those patterns really well established. And good daytime and nighttime sleep habits. It’s not always a mother, we work with all types of families… The goal is that you leave parents behind who feel healthy and feel confident in the ability to care for their child or children. If there is a nanny being brought in, that nanny understands the patterns and needs of that baby before they leave.”
A newborn care specialist, their role in the family is different. What are your thoughts on nannies, should they be considered a friend and a family member?
“It depends on the nanny and their personality and what they want, but they are generally there for extended periods of time they are there much longer than a newborn care specialist is. Their role is different. They are more like a member of the family. Some families view them almost like a third parent. Newborn care specialist are usually viewed more in the role of a professional service provider… we have a very specific and timed goal. We have an end date, we know when we’re leaving.”
Are parents doing as much as they should be doing in terms of educating themselves about newborns?
“I think a lot of parents are doing a lot to research and educate themselves, but the mistake I see them making, is they’re trusting what their girlfriends tell them or what their friends tell them or sometimes what other professionals are telling them. They’re not actually doing the scientific research behind what’s being told. It’s just ‘Oh, this worked for my girlfriend, so it’s gotta be right.” Forgetting that every baby is an individual and that every baby may have different needs… I see them trusting other people’s word, instead of really thoroughly researching things. But, I see them trying, I think that’s a good thing. They are trying to get information, it’s just where they’re getting the information, it’s not what I would love to see.”
A newborn care specialist, what’s their relationship with a pediatrician? Should they offer their opinions?
“A newborn care specialist is not a doctor, they’re not a nurse, we never diagnose medical conditions. However, because we work with a large variety of newborns in such an intimate setting, we generally recognize pretty quickly, if there is a problem. For example, one of the most common things we see is infant reflux and GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). We will recognize those signs. The role of a newborn care specialist is to say ‘I recognize the signs of a potential problem, I would suggest that you consider taking your child to see your pediatrician’ and share with them these symptoms that we’re seeing… sometimes they will go with the parents to the pediatrician. It depends on the pediatrician, it depends on the parent, it depends on how comfortable they are, but certainly, it is the newborn care specialist role to speak up if they see a potential problem.”
Why is there such a demand for newborn care? Was this sparked by a celebrity?
I don’t know if this is necessarily and endorsement by celebrities… when a celebrity is open about the fact that she has a newborn care specialist in her house, she gets attacked online. They generally aren’t out there advertising this… I think that the rise in the demand is because so many mothers are working now and need to go back to work, but newborn care specialist, we are what’s called ‘The modern village’ because forty, fifty years ago, everybody lived in the same town, grandmas, and aunts… everybody was close together. You had that family unit that took up and offered a lot of love that’s just not available anymore… newborn care specialist fill that role many times for families. It’s also a recognition, it’s okay to say ‘I can’t do it all,’ I gotta go back to work in eight weeks, I got to back to work in six weeks… I need to heal from giving birth, I need be healthy and strong and be able to be there for my baby. I think it’s become okay to say, ‘I really could use some help!’
For more information about Tonya Sakowicz and Newborn Care Solutions visit: newborncaresolutions.com
Handpicked Related Articles
Need a Nanny Job?
Sitter.com is an online community connecting qualified nannies, sitters, and child care specialists with a nationwide network of parents look for caregivers.
Need a Nanny?
Quickly and easily find a nanny, babysitter and child care specialist in your area, anywhere in the United States and Canada.