West Linn mom earns $15,000 from Huggies
Parenting-inspired invention aims to test online baby sleep coaching program by February
Using experience and ingenuity to help new parents reclaim their precious sleeping hours, West Linn mother and entrepreneur Suzanne Hansen has been awarded a $15,000 grant through the Huggies MomInspired Grant Program to develop an online baby sleep coaching program.
The MomInspired Grant Program was launched in 2010, providing mothers with inventive ideas of how to make parenting easier with seed money and business resources to further their products and start-up businesses. It is, essentially, a sleep coach for your baby. And if the baby isn't sleeping, neither is the mother.
This year's nine winners - chosen from a pool of 500 - include FDA-approved acupressure wristbands for the relief of nausea caused by morning sickness, travel, chemotherapy and anesthesia; magnetic-fastening infant wear; a 'colic cradler' - a fully adjustable chair and carrier with an automated massager design to imitate a two-handed colic-cradle hold - and Hansen's online baby sleep coaching program.
'I took a tremendous amount of time filling out the application and sharing with (Huggies) the need for the program in that, nothing like this exists,' she said of what she called an 'exhaustive' entry process. 'They want some things that are really unique that aren't really out there.'
Hansen, who has worked as a high-risk labor and delivery nurse, a childbirth educator and a postpartum doula, is also the author of the New York Times best-selling book, 'You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again: The Adventures of a Hollywood Nanny,' which chronicles her time served as a nanny in several Hollywood homes, including that of Michael Ovitz, the once-president of the Walt Disney Corporation.
'My children were really poor sleepers, and I thought I was going to lose my mind (on) sleep-deprived days, and I had a lot of friends having the same experience,' she said. 'As my children got older … I just really saw the need for the sleep coaching, because parents were really needing help with sleep issues.'
Drawing on these professional and personal experiences, she's worked as a sleep coach for nearly five years through her practice, Ruby Sky Coaching.
For part of her application, Hansen interviewed some of the mothers she's worked with so they could explain how frequently families have this problem and how serious its effects can be.
'I really want it to be able to help virtually any family to know that they don't have to live sleep deprived,' she said. 'I want my product to essentially help every family, because everyone can't afford to have one-on-one coaching and there's only one of me.'
Hansen said that, in her work as a sleep coach, she's always wanted an online product that was interactive and could be personalized. Instead, most information available online is generalized, and 'You're saying, 'But my toddler's not doing that. OK, I did that, but what do I do next?''
Users of Hansen's online baby sleep coach program will input their personal information to receive an initial plan, and then report what happens after each night just as they would if they were seeing Hansen in person.
The program will then take users through a decision tree to find a method to try the next time around.
'I really believe every family needs their own program because every baby is different and every family,' Hansen said. 'I used a hodge-podge of different (techniques) for myself, and that's what I do for my clients now, too.'
She said her program will support a variety of family dynamics, ranging from families who choose to co-sleep to those looking for the quickest solution and anyone in between.
Hansen said she will use her Huggies grant to finance her programming and development phase and her goal is to have the program ready to test by Feb. 10. While she concentrates on developing the program, she'll be taking on new in-person clients in a limited capacity.
'Sleep deprivation does not have to be an unavoidable sacrifice of motherhood,' she said. 'That's kind of been the general thought… We've always thought, 'Just laugh about all of the sleep deprivation and how wacky you're getting from lack of sleep.'
'I just really want to share that it doesn't have to be that way.'
For more information about Hansen's baby sleep coaching, visit www.babysleepcoaching.com.