We had the good fortune of connecting with Sara McAllister and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sara, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” — T.S. Eliot Risk taking has defined my life and my career. I take big leaps! These big leaps have always shaped my life and decided my path. At 17 years old, only days after graduating high school, I boarded a plane to Ayacucho, a small city located in the Andes Mountains in south-central Peru. Traveling alone, much to my family’s protest, I arrived in Peru not knowing a soul or speaking the language. I spent my days volunteering in a government run childcare program, caring for the infants of mothers incarcerated in the coca trade. An infant’s need for care, attachment, routine, and love is universal. Holding those babies, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life working with newborns. I have carried the passion I found in Ayacucho with me ever since.
In 2011, not long after graduation from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, I was ready for another life-changing leap! I packed my life into a rented minivan and drove 3000 miles to California where I furthered my newborn education while working as a career nanny and household assistant. This move opened the doors to building my business in a market that could support a business in my industry.
In 2016, I took my biggest risk yet. I quit my full time, stable 9-5 job and Welcome Home Baby was born. Over the next 4 years, I worked 80-100+ hours most weeks, building my business in Orange County.
This year, one more big risk! I moved from Orange County to West Hollywood, moving this amazing business I have built away from my client base and into a new city. I am so very excited to explore Los Angeles, connect with those in the newborn care world, and support many more new families for years into the future!
Risk has not only defined my professional life, I truly encompass risk taking in my daily life. I love to travel the world, have gone on safari, will be the first to swim with sharks and rays, climb the tallest cliffs, and skydiving is on my bucket list for sure!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Through my business, Welcome Home Baby, I provide services as a dual certified International Certified Newborn Care Specialist (NCI) and Advanced Certified Newborn Care Specialist (NCSA). A Newborn Care Specialist (NCS) is a care professional with a unique combination of specialized skills and advanced education to provide expert care for infants as well as education for their parents. Most NCS tend to be sleep based, having advanced expertise on sleep conditioning, the act of creating healthy sleep habits from day one and encouraging independent sleep. Typically, an NCS will work with a family for the first 12-16 weeks. I offer maternity consultations, assistance in building baby registries, nursery setup, overnight sleep conditioning support, daytime newborn care and education, newborn sleep planning, 24/7 travel support, as well as teach virtual and in-person new parenting classes and speak at conferences locally and nationwide. I will also be launching a series of online newborn care and parenting classes in the near future!
The most common service offered as an NCS is overnight newborn care, providing support and education to new parents while giving them some much-needed sleep during the overnight hours. I, personally, am a sleep based Newborn Care Specialist. I believe in providing newborns with the building blocks to form strong loving attachments, healthy sleep habits, and a routine that helps both baby and family thrive. I come into the home with the goal of establishing a schedule for baby that will allow baby to be sleeping through the night (7pm-7am) by approximately 12 weeks old! When following baby’s cues and establishing a routine around the needs of baby and family, babies are set up for success for years into the future. I help clients establish this healthy routine through sleep conditioning, giving baby the tools to establish healthy sleep habits from day one (not to be confused with Cry-It-Out sleep training!).
Educating new parents and normalizing NCS work has been my greatest challenge! Many new parents are unaware of the resources and support that are available to them. There are also many misconceptions out there around infant care, sleep, and feeding. So many new parents associate the idea of independent infant sleep with Cry-It-Out style sleep training as opposed to gentle sleep conditioning and have no idea that it is possible for their newborn to learn these healthy sleep habits from day one, even while supporting a healthy breast/chest feeding relationship if that is a goal! Unfortunately, there is a lot of “parent-shaming” in modern day parenting society. Online parenting groups and forums often create an atmosphere surrounded by misinformation, misconceptions, extreme or polarizing parenting philosophies, outdated practices, and shaming/guilt around so many everyday parenting decisions. As an NCS, I am able to be the evidence-based resource for my clients to get clear answers and information, allowing them to make their own informed parenting decisions. I am able to guide and support them through those first 3 months, setting them up for success for years into the future.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Being new to the city, what are you most excited to experience here in LA?
I will be the first to admit, I am not a city girl. I grew up in a suburban, small beach town in Rhode Island then moved to a small island off the coast of Rhode Island throughout college. I have spent the last 10 years in Orange County, just suburban enough for my beach loving heart! So this move to West Hollywood is an adjustment for me! That said, I am a foodie! Being able to walk out my door and experience countless types of cuisines and eateries ranging from hole-in-the-wall bagel shops to multiple Michelin Star restaurants is exciting! I cannot wait to experience all that LA has to offer in the culinary world! I also spend as much of my down time as possible in nature, so cannot wait to explore the beaches and forests that surround Los Angeles. I have no doubt that I am going to love my city!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Before starting Welcome Home Baby, I was working as a career nanny. I became very involved in the childcare industry, co-founding the Orange County Nanny Network and networking with childcare industry leaders nationwide. In 2014, I attended my first national nanny conference, Nannypalooza. While attending, I first learned about the NCS profession. I learned about the training options, the certification process, and the business opportunities this career path could offer. On the final day of conference, Newborn Care Training Academy raffled off one Newborn Care Specialist training course tuition. And I won. Winning that initial training changed the course of my career.
As I continued my education in the newborn care field, the childcare industry leaders I met through national conferences and education opportunities became cherished friends and colleagues. Sue Downey is the owner of Nannypalooza and organizes the national conference, interNational Nanny Training Day, and is on the Board of Directors for the International Nanny Association. Lora Brawley is the owner of Nanny Care Hub and My Nanny University. Through their individual platforms, Sue and Lora have both opened doors for my career as I built Welcome Home Baby, inviting me to speak at their events, building my teaching experience and recognition in the newborn care field. They both embody professionalism and growth in the childcare field.
So my shoutout is dedicated to those promoting excellence in the Newborn Care Specialist industry and childcare world as a whole. To those normalizing NCS work, elevating professionalism, and promoting excellence through professional standards in practice and education.
Today, there are multiple organizations, training companies, and associations within the Newborn Care Specialist industry. The Newborn Care Specialist Association, Newborn Care International, Newborn Care Training Academy, Newborn Care Solutions, and many others are putting in the work in order to meet these industry goals! My shoutout goes out to them!
On a personal note, I am getting married to my incredible partner, Ryann, at the beginning of next year. So I shout out to her endless support of my wild, free, risk taking spirit! When you talk about the idea of “risk”, Ryann and I are on opposite ends of the extremes. She is my rock of stability and safety. But she supports my big leaps without question, she supports my passion and my drive in my business. She is my balance and I am so incredibly lucky to have someone who loves me but leaves me wild!
Cover Photo: Nico Photo Studio