NYS Paid Family Leave- Got Questions?

I’ve been seeing a lot of discussions on Momally Astoria about the new New York State Paid Family Leave (NYSPFL) law that went into effect on January 1, 2018.  Turns out that most people (myself included) don’t know much about it.  Lucky for us, one of our Momallies, Dana Shurz is not most people!!

Dana is a new mom to an eight-month old girl, and also happens to be a full-time human resources professional specializing in benefits management at a major nonprofit in New York City. She and I will be doing a Facebook Live video chat on Sunday, June 10th at 8PM on Momally Astoria to talk with other moms and answer any questions you have, whether it’s about NYS PFL, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and how to arrange reasonable accommodations under both. Before our chat, here are the most important things you need to know about New York State Paid Family Leave:

  • Although it became effective in 2018, if you gave birth at any time in 2017, you may be entitled to benefits under this law.
  • Like FMLA, NYS PFL guarantees job protection during the time that you are out on leave.
  • If you are a full-time employee who works 20+ hours per week, you are eligible for NYSPFL after having completed 26 consecutive weeks of full-time employment.
  • If you are a part-time employee working a regular schedule of LESS than 20 hours per week, you are eligible for NYS PFL after working for 175 days (these do NOT need to be consecutive for part-timers).
  • NYS PFL is set to phase in over the next 4 years. During 2018, those who take NYSPFL can take up to 8 weeks of paid family leave time, 50% of their average weekly wage, capped at the New York State average weekly wage (approx. $600). This means that the maximum weekly NYSPFL benefit for 2018 is approx. $300.
  • If you take NYS PFL and receive health insurance through your employer, you are entitled to keep your health insurance coverage but must still continue paying for your portion of the premium.

Can’t wait to see everyone on our Facebook Live chat on June 10th!

Please email me any questions you might have in advance. Andrea@momally.com


 …and the reasons why your reasons don’t hold water:

1. I’m tired.

Dude. Everyone’s tired. You’re going to be tired for the next 1-25 years. GO.

 2. The baby needs to nap.

 There’s a very short window of time in the beginning when babies can sleep anytime and anywhere. There’s no such thing as a schedule yet. Your sanity and social life are more important than that bit of sleep.

3. What if the baby freaks out and cries the whole time?

He might.  You’ll be in a room full of moms who have been there and who will offer you nothing but love and support.  And there *may* even be a facilitator who loves to hold and soothe crying babies.

4. What if I cry?

You might. Most people do at some point. It’s really hard. If you are in the weeds and crying more than you have since you were a baby, you need the group more than anyone.

5. It’s too cold.

People have babies in Siberia.  There are places in the world where people put babies in their pram outside in the cold outside for a nap because it is believed that cold air is good for them.  If you stay inside because of cold, you’re going to have long lonely winters for a couple of years.  Bundle up and GET OUTSIDE.

6. It’s too hot.

Babies are born at the equator.  Your baby previously lived 24/7 in an environment that was 98 degrees.  You don’t want to hang out in 100 degree+ weather, but GET OUTSIDE and get where you need to go.

7. It’s raining.

Use an umbrella and wear the baby in a carrier.  Or wear a raincoat and push the baby in a stroller with a rain cover. Babies can get wet.  You’re MUCH more likely to feel isolated and depressed if you stay home alone with a baby on a rainy day.  GET OUTSIDE.

8. I won’t know anyone.

No one knows anyone their first time.  Fast forward five years to your little one’s first day of kindergarten.  Will you let her stay home because she doesn’t know anyone? Nope. You’ll tell her that she’s got to be brave. You’ll tell her that it’s ok to be nervous and that you KNOW she will make friends and become a part of the community.

9. I’m not a “support group” kind of person.

You need community.  Your baby needs community.  The new mom group is the foundation from which you’ll build your tribe.  Out of the 10 mom in the room, you may meet one that you’ll grab coffee with next week.  Then you’ll have each other over and you’ll get to know each other’s spouses.  These will become the people you’ll have over for dinner or you’ll go camping with when you’ve got toddlers. They’ll be the emergency contact on your kid’s school forms.

You *may* be super outgoing and have no trouble making friends wherever you go.  I know some moms who have  built amazing mom communities at the park or in coffee shops.  If that’s you: kudos.  If you are a little shy or hesitant to make new friends when you’re feeling so vulnerable–GET TO A NEW MOM GROUP.

10. a million more WHAT IF’s…

What if I’m the only one who is breastfeeding? What if I’m the only one who is bottle feeding? What if I’m doing something wrong?  What if I don’t know how to get the stroller folded?  What if I can’t get the baby to latch?  What if I haven’t showered?  What if I am doing great and I feel like I’m supposed to be a mess?  What if I don’t like anyone?  What if no one likes me?  What if…

Shhh…breathe…don’t listen to the what-ifs.  What is the worst thing that can happen?  At WORST, you’ve gotten out of the house and tried something.  It is far more likely, though, that you will have planted a seed that will grow into your future community.

If you’re in or near the Astoria, NY community, please join meetup.com/momallyparenting for access to the full calendar of support groups and parent hosted events.


Need Sleep Help?

Parents, I know how you feel. You haven’t slept. Baby hasn’t slept. You’re so tired you use your metrocard at the ATM.  All you can think about is sleep. Because you are ….




As a parent, I was in your shoes not to long ago. Always exhausted, irritable and feeling ill. Eventually, we all slept, but it took me a long time to figure out the right sleep plan, strategy and support.

If I had only know them what I know now as a certified sleep consultant. I’ve helped dozens of families across the NYC area find the best way to teach their little one to sleep.  There is a way to do it. There is a way to get your baby to sleep.

Join me and other parents for my 90-minute sleep workshop.  We’ll cover the basics of sleep science, and focus on establishing good sleep habits to last a lifetime. We’ll talk about how to handle sleep regressions, interruptions in sleep habits, and roles for each parent. You’ll leave the workshop with a plan to help your little one become a healthy sleeper.

Each workshop is limited to 3 families in attendance, and is adults only. Sorry little ones, but we have a lot of material to cover to make sure you sleep well soon.

Each family will also receive a 20 minute follow up consultation with me. We’ll talk about your progress and  troubleshoot any issues. You can schedule this with me up to one month after the workshop.

Click below to register

Saturday, June 18
10:30 – 12:00 pm – For parents of children 4 – 12 months old 
1:30 – 3:00 pm – For parents of children 1-5 years old

The workshops will be held in my home, located in Astoria, NY. Address and further details will be provided upon registration.


Andrea Scannell is a mom, an infant care educator, a certified pediatric sleep consultant and a certified lactation counselor.  She’s helped hundreds of families get the sleep they need!

For more information about Andrea’s services, visit MOMally

Bottle Refusal Sucks

Ten Tips to Help Your Breastfed Baby Take a Bottle


Bottle refusal is STRESSFUL, to say the least.  I have talked with countless moms who are in an absolute panic about going back to work and their 3 or 4 month old is out-right refusing to take a bottle.

One assumes that since you are reading this, you are already in the weeds with a bottle refusing babe.  If, by some lucky chance, you are happening upon this article as the new mom or dad of a newborn who is under 4 weeks old, lean in and listen closely: INTRODUCE A BOTTLE NOW!!!  4-6 weeks is a magic spot where babies are not likely to be confused by an artificial nipple and also not likely to prefer the bottle.  Once you introduce it, give ONE BOTTLE EVERY DAY so your baby has a chance to practice the skill (and you get a break!!)

It’s more likely though, that you, dear reader, are the panicking mom whose baby would rather starve than take anything other than your breast for sustenance.  I have seen some stubborn babes in my time, but *MOST* of them eventually relent. The ones that don’t relent do NOT starve themselves, they learn other ways to get milk.  It’s just a little more complex for the caregivers.

Assume that your baby is one of the majority who will relent.  Here are the things to try:

  1. Have someone other than mom give the bottle. Mom smells like nursing and feels like nursing and babies just want to nurse when they’re on mom.  Sometimes it’s even hard for babies to take a bottle if mom is anywhere in the vicinity.  Some people wrap the bottle in moms pillowcase so it smells like her.  Some desperate dads wear moms bathrobe (if you try this, take pictures PLEASE). Try skin to skin, which will elicit newborn instincts to suck.  Sit where mom sits to nurse.
  2. Have MOM give the bottle.  Yes, dear reader, that is a DIRECT contradiction to suggestion #1.  You see, babies are not robots.  There is NEVER one right answer to anything.  Some of them decide that ONLY mom can feed them and they don’t care how.  If they’ll take a bottle from mom, rest assured, they know how to do it and will eventually take it from someone else.
  3. Bait and switch.  Start by nursing and deftly do a quick switcheroo for the bottle.
  4. Try different bottles.  Now I firmly believe that it’s insane to take out a second mortgage to support the industry that is capitalizing on breastfeeding mothers and marketing “the perfect bottle for breastfed babies”.  There is no such thing. Don’t go crazy.  Don’t spend a fortune.  But try out some different shape nipples.  Common wisdom is to find a nipple that is shaped like mom’s.  The problem with that is that no human nipple in it’s normal relaxed state remotely resembles a bottle nipple.  Ask around and see if friends have tried different bottles- even borrow one or two to try them out (sterilize thoroughly, of course). For what it’s worth, one bottle that I have seen some people have success with is the Playtex Nurser.
  5. Play with the bottle temperature.  Some babies (mine, for example) are just particular about the temperature.   Aim for body temperature.  Adjust up and down and see if it makes a difference.
  6. Change the scene.  A strong association between the spot where mom usually feeds can work for you or against you.  Baby A may ONLY take a bottle in that glider.  Baby B may REFUSE to take anything other than the breast there.  Try different rooms.  Go outside.
  7. Try movement.  Walk around and hold the baby while offering the bottle.  Sometimes the distraction of being soothed by movement makes them forget their mission of refusal.
  8. Try the car seat, the swing, the bouncy seat- any place that’s different.
  9. Consider the positioning.  Baby A may only take a bottle in a snuggled-in nursing position.  Baby B may need to sit upright.
  10. Combine variables.  One of my moms joked that she needed an Excel chart to keep track of what combinations she had tried.  But seriously- it could be the magic combination of dad, wearing moms bathrobe feeding his sitting upright baby with a Playtex nurser in which the milk is EXACLTY 98 degrees.  Stranger things have happened.

Most importantly, JUST KEEP TRYING.  Try EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  More likely than not, one day, that baby will surprise you and will suck away as if they’ve been doing it forever.  If your baby is among the few who are just stubborn enough to wait to eat until you come home, caregivers can feed with a cup or a syringe.  Your baby will not starve without a bottle.  And someday you’ll be proud of that sense of commitment to a cause.


5 Tips for helping your baby sleep on vacation

DSC_0347For most of us, schedules and routines go out the window when we’re on vacation.  That’s kind of the point, right? Unfortunately, babies and toddlers don’t really get the whole vacation thing.  They don’t suddenly stop needing 13+ hours of sleep a day.  A sleep deficit (even an hour or two) can make for unhappy babies and therefore a less than relaxing vacation.  Here are some tips to minimize the disruption:



Try to recreate the home environment as much as possible. Replicate the light in the room: if you have blackout shades at home, use black garbage bags and tape to make the room really dark.  If you use a nightlight, bring it.

If you don’t use a white noise machine at home, start using one! Bring the machine on vacation to make any room feel like home. There are also some white noise apps.

If you’re using a pack-n-play or  another portable crib, have the baby sleep in it for a few nights at home so it’s familiar.

Bring sheets from home that the baby has slept on.  This will make the crib smell and feel like home.


Don’t forget:  monitor if you need one, books, sound machine, sheets, night light, blackout shades (or black garbage bags/tape), and most importantly,  DON’T FORGET THE LOVEY!!


As much as possible, respect bedtime!  It’s so easy to lose track of time and have babies up for hours after their bedtime.  Set a goal to have the baby in bed on time for 75% of the nights you’re away. If this means hiring a local sitter so you can go out, do it!

Try, try, try to get naps in when you can.  Make sure you have at least a few down days where the baby can nap in the crib.  For on-the-go days, try hard for car or stroller naps.  One day without a nap can throw off the whole week’s sleep.  Remember that it’s harder for babies to sleep well when they’re overtired.

Try to replicate your bedtime rituals exactly.  Do things in the same order.  Repeat the same phrases.  Read the same books.  Sing the same songs.


You know your baby best: if you have a very scheduled baby who is sensitive to change, it’s best to stick to the time zone you live in and adjust your schedule.  The exception to this is if you are traveling for more than a week. In that case, you could start adjusting before you go by moving the whole day up (or back) in 15 minute increments every few days, leaving the last 1/2 hour or hour for the first days you’re in the new time zone..

If your baby is more go-with-the flow, you could just start on the new clock as soon as you arrive.  You’ll likely miss a nap or two and it may take a few days, but some babies adjust very easily.


You’re on vacation after all!!

Don’t be afraid to break the rules.  It’s highly likely that your baby will have some trouble adjusting to a new environment.  If you have sleep trained your baby, you may want to be careful not to reintroduce crutches you’ve worked hard to get rid of (bouncing, rocking, nursing to sleep), but if your baby needs you to stay in the room while they fall asleep, do it!  Gentle pats, extra pick-ups and verbal reassurances are fine.

At the end of the day, however, if he or she is having a particularly hard time falling asleep or staying asleep in a new environment do WHATEVER you need to do to get the sleep.  Don’t stress out about creating bad habits: it can be undone and you’ll get back to normal when you get home.

If you do none of the above and vacation sleep is a disaster- don’t sweat it!  A week of being overtired will have short term consequences for sure, and you may have to do some re-teaching, but everyone will recover and get back to normal within a week or so.

The Right Answer

In the age of instant access to worlds of information it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the conflicting advice and overabundance of opinions.  Every mom I know has taken a trip or two (or many) down the rabbit hole of the internet in search of the right answer. We search for the best products, the best pediatricians and the best preschools.  We hunt for answers to our questions about illnesses, tantrums, bullying, and endless other issues our children face.

The truth of the matter is that there is NO answer.  There is NO right way to do it.  Nobody has cornered the market on parenting or baby advice.  There have been opinions (and judgements) about how to best parent since the beginning of time.  It is human nature to think that there is a right or wrong.  There is not.

Have compassion for yourself first.  Breathe.  Trust your instincts.  They are there.  Seek advice from people, websites, books, blogs and other sources you trust and get support!  Call a parent coach~ MOMally, for example! Take it all in, then consider what you know and then make YOUR OWN choices.  YOU are the expert on your own child.  Nobody knows them like you do.  Educate yourself and then act with confidence!!!