Written & Photographed by: Kathleen Knuth.
" She's a mama, science educator, pediatric sleep consultant, baby sign language teacher, prenatal yoga instructor, and the founder of FEED PLAY REST "
Kat Knuth (K): Hi, Nupur! Welcome. It's so nice to have you here and to be chatting with you today. Let's begin with an introduction: Tell us a little about yourself.
Nupur Israni (N): Hi Kat! It's so good to be here, thanks for having me. I'm Nupur... I'm a mama to an almost 3-year-old, I'm married to my partner Arup and I'm an aspiring yogi. We live in Boulder, CO and I am a Baby & Parent Consultant with FEED PLAY REST. I taught middle and high school science for twelve years, and also trained in prenatal yoga, sleep consulting and baby sign language. Hmmm...what else about me...oh yes! I've moved a lot haha...9 spaces in 10 years actually, so I've lived in a lot of different places...Canada (which is home to me) and then New York, New Jersey, Dallas and now Colorado.
(K): Wow! That's a lot of places and a lot of moving! Would you say one place has shaped you more than others?
(N): Well, every place had its charm and every move taught us a lot, but we've been really lucky to find community everywhere we've lived. I don't know that one 'place' in particular has shaped me, so to speak, but meeting so many different people over years has certainly shaped me.
(K): Yea, I bet! That’s really interesting that it's been the people more than the places, I can certainly see that. And professionally: Tell me a little more about your background, career, and what led you to start FEED PLAY REST?
(N): My formal training is in Science and in Education. I have a BSc in Biology and Chemistry and a Masters in Education from the University of Toronto. I trained to be a middle and high school teacher and taught for over 10 years in both public and private schools in Canada, New York and Dallas. I'm also trained in Hatha, Vinyasa and Prenatal yoga.
I had my daughter in January of 2020 and as you know the pandemic began soon afterwards. I was on leave and home with her, and after a few months we settled into a nice routine. But the teacher in me was getting antsy. I loved being with her, but missed using the other side of my brain. I wasn't quite ready to go back, but needed something intellectually stimulating, so I started filling our days with activities and thinking deeply about matching them with her skill-level and developmental milestones. The mama in me wanted to document it all and capture all the moments because time was flying, but I also wanted to use my teacher brain a little more. As an educator, I'd been really interested in signing, so I took a Baby Sign Language certification during my pregnancy. So we were spending our days reading, signing, and learning through play, and like many new mamas, I was learning on the job. Eventually I built myself a small library of resources to refer back to. And because we were in lockdown and there were no baby-and-me classes or opportunities to mingle with other mamas, I began chatting virtually with other moms. I reached out through Facebook groups and started sharing some of my resources. We'd chat about what was working and what wasn't- and really I was just connecting with others and learning a whole lot.
Then in mid 2021, when the world was feeling a little less chaotic and my daughter was about a year and a half, I shared some of my materials with some close mama friends, who then went on to recommend me to their friends, and soon things just kinda started happening! I was connecting with more mamas (and even some papas!) and realized I was passionate about helping parents! I kept working pretty casually with families, and it was wonderful because I was home with my daughter, but still connecting with and serving in the community.
A few months later, I certified as a Pediatric Sleep Consultant and then eventually as a Prenatal Yoga teacher and these were the last two pieces that got me thinking about a consulting company. The more families I connected with and got feedback from, the more I realized, I wanted this to be my career! So later that year, with a LOT of support and encouragement from my partner, my family and many parents I had worked with, I launched FEED PLAY REST.
(K): Wow! What an amazing story, so much to unpack there. It’s so interesting that the pandemic and your motherhood experiences coincided to changing your career trajectory. A lot of people, I think, have gone through that kind of shake up lately. Is there anything you'd do differently or lessons you've learned that you'd like to share?
(N): I'd say the most important thing I've learned is to be true to yourself and not shy away from what really makes you happy. Raising a newborn in isolation in those early pandemic days, had its moments for sure, but the greatest gift I got- was time and space. We were busy, don't get me wrong but the opportunity to have time with my daughter to bond and just BE- really allowed me to reflect on my priorities and how I wanted to spend my time going forward. And that added sense of fulfillment I was getting from helping families reach their goals made it a no-brainer. I questioned and deeply reflected on what I wanted my post-pandemic, working-mom life to look like and knew I was moving in the right direction. I have to say-I'm so thankful for the support of my partner, my family and the families I worked with. It was their encouragement that definitely nudged me down this path.
(K): That is amazing. And I hear you...that support piece is so key. Ok so tell me, what exactly is a 'Baby Consultant' ?
(N): Ha...good question! I like to think of a FEED PLAY REST Consultant as a one-stop shop and support system for families who need anything FEED PLAY or REST related. And that's support for both babies and their parents. Families are provided with evidence-based information to help them and their babies meet their goals. We identify areas of need, and then I support them by creating a plan and helping them execute it. And it's all custom and personalized support, so no two plans are alike, because obviously no two babies or families are alike!
For example: one mama was exclusively breastfeeding and co-sleeping with her baby, and her goals were to introduce play, get better sleep and continue to breastfeed as long as she could. Another mama was exclusively pumping and had her baby sleeping in the crib at 6 weeks. Her goals were to increase her milk supply, establish healthy sleep patterns for her baby, use baby sign language, and get her little guy into a better routine with his feedings. So two families with two very different goals. Once I know what they want to tackle, we break it down, find a service or package that suits the family and then get to work.
(K): Speaking of services, how are yours structured?
(N): My goal is to support families in any way that I can- big or small, so I offer a variety of options. No matter what, we always begin with a free discovery call and the purpose of this is twofold: first to identify the family's goals and second to ensure that we are a good fit. It's really important to me that the family is comfortable working with me and they know what they're signing up for, because ultimately they are doing the heavy lifting and putting the plan into motion. I consult and provide recommendations but their efforts determine success. I work mostly virtually which means I can serve families anywhere and that's been amazing because I've been able to work with families in New York, Dallas, Toronto, India, Dubai and of course locally here in Colorado as well! Now that things are opening up post-pandemic, I also do in-person consults in the Boulder and Denver areas.
After that first call, and we've determine what we're tackling, families either choose a Mini Consult (these are usually 1 or 2 sessions long and they last 1-2 hours each) or a Package that is 1, 2, 4 or 8 weeks long, where they get access to my FEED PLAY REST Guides. With packages, we can take a deep dive and assess what's happening at a fundamental level versus the shorter consults. But I always look at all three components- FEED, PLAY and REST because they are interconnected. A baby's sleep depends on how hungry or well-fed he/she is, as well as how stimulated he/she has been during wake times. By the same token, babies feed well if they aren't groggy, sleepy or over-stimulated by play. So it really is an overall perspective and I create customized toolkits with logs, feeding guides, activity guides, book-lists, music, sound exploration and baby sign language to tackle our goals. And everything is customized, which means every family gets something different out of the process. No matter what the family chooses, one thing is always for sure: I never leave them with PDFs and just walk away. Every consult- small or big, always includes daily check-ins with me, so we are always communicating. I also offer Mama Consults to support parents with anything from registry building, hospital prep and nursery set-up to virtual or in-person prenatal and postnatal yoga classes.
(K): Wow..this sounds really cool. You offer so many different services and what an amazing way to connect and build community. Can you tell me more about what drew you to these particular categories: FEED PLAY and REST?
(N): Absolutely! I had a LOT of ideas when this first started to take shape, but no real plan on how to execute, haha! Eventually I realized that I needed to figure out two main things: one- what could I offer to families that would add value, and two- how could I effectively package these offerings so families could easily access them. I shared my ideas with a lot of people (over a hundred, actually) and the more I shared, the more I realized the services fell into three main categories: Feed, Play, and Rest! And these categories support both babies and parents so beautifully.
FEEDing is important for babies obviously but also for new mamas regardless of whether or not they are breastfeeding. It's critical for them to consume nutrient dense foods to recover and rebuild stamina during the postpartum stages.
PLAY is such a huge part of how babies, infants and toddlers engage with the world around them whether through books, toys, music or sign language and for mamas PLAY can translate to "down time, rest and opportunities to refill their cup".This is where prenatal and postnatal yoga offerings made most sense!
And then REST- I mean sleep is always a hot topic for both babies and parents, especially new ones, haha and so it just took shape that way and FEED PLAY REST seemed so logical.
(K): That's so true! I totally agree. You've done a great job of packaging all your services so neatly into these three groups! Well it sounds amazing and like you've really got a good handle on how you're bringing these services to families. Is there anything you're hoping to offer in the future that you don't currently?
(N): Right now, I feel pretty good about what I'm offering. That being said, I'm not opposed to adding anything that would benefit the community, and the beauty of customized services means the possibilities are endless!
(K): That's so true! Well this has been super informative and fascinating! Thanks so much for chatting with me and for answering my questions. I'll leave you with one last question and it’s a little personal: FEED PLAY REST seems to be a fulfilling and beautiful thing that you've created but if you had to pick one thing, just one that you absolutely love about it the most, what would it be?
(N): Ah! Just one thing- I'd say connection hands-down! I can't tell you how fulfilling it is to speak to parents and help them troubleshoot in real time! There's always something to work on because babies and toddlers keep us on our toes, but the feedback I get most often is how happy they are to share and talk to a real human! There's so much information out there and it's easy to get lost in that online abyss! So I'd definitely say sharing, listening, talking and connecting with families is the most fulfilling part of this work.
(K): Well, thank you so much for joining me today and for telling us all about FEED PLAY REST. It sounds like an amazing thing you've got going and I wish you all the best with it!
(N): Thanks so much Kat. And I just want to say thank you to YOU for interviewing me and for all of the beautiful photography you've been doing with me as I've been on this journey! It's been such a pleasure to work together and I look forward to many, more projects in the future.
(K): Right back at ya. Thanks for chatting and for choosing Kat Knuth Photography as well!
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About the author: Kat Knuth is a sought after family and newborn photographer in Longmont, CO, serving the entire NoCo area. Always an artist, photography allows her to help her clients tell their stories: their precious moments, their milestones, their family histories and events. She loves to create beautiful, heirloom-quality images they can treasure for generations. When she isn't behind her lens, she is poking about town with her two littles and her sweet husband.