Hi! I'm Lara Elfstrand, early learning specialist

 My positive, playful team

My positive, playful team

 The day we became parents, 2007

The day we became parents, 2007

 Our son, summer 2008

Our son, summer 2008

Building resilience and learning in parents and children

I am a bilingual early learning specialist. I love to help parents to become a positive, playful parenting team. I work with parents and families of all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities so that all children can be known, loved, and motivated to move, communicate, solve problems, and care about others. I have provided support to English and Spanish-speaking families since 2009.

Little Elf Family Services is named in honor of our son, Timothy, who we lost to mitochondrial disease at 17 months of age. Parenting him was both the greatest joy and greatest challenge of my life, and it tested our parenting relationship beyond what we thought we could handle.  We made it through, and I want to support all families to get through the joys and struggles of parenting together!  Dr. T. Berry Brazelton talked about the idea that with every pregnancy there are 3 babies: the dream baby who is smiling and cooing; the feared baby who has special needs or other challenges; and the real baby.  Infant mortality rates are falling in the U.S. (click for more details), and it is unlikely that you will have the level of challenges that we had. But no matter what happens, I feel that part of my job is to help you as a new family to figure out the real baby that has come into your life.  Our son's life has inspired me to help families get off to the very best start. I feel so fortunate to have found a career path that I'm very passionate about, where I can help families to be resilient. 

I hold a Masters of Arts in Early Childhood Special Education and a Level 1 California teaching credential from Santa Clara University, and I am a 2016-2017 graduate of the Napa Infant Parent Mental Health Fellowship through U.C. Davis Extension. I live in Northern California with my husband, Marshall, and our dog, Brutus. My goal is to support families to build positive, playful parenting teams. I help parents to know, love, and motivate each child and to maximize the potential of all children.  I am certified to teach Bringing Baby Home through the Gottman Institute, and I am certified to do newborn behavioral observations (the basis for "What's my baby saying?") through the Brazelton Institute. I'm excited to be teaching the Bringing Baby Home program because of its track record in building strong families and in improving developmental outcomes for young children.  My speaking engagements have also included:  Building Positive, Playful Co-Parenting Teams to Support the Potential of all Children at Infant Development Association, a guest appearance on TLC's Rattled (not aired yet), and guest speaker at San Jose State University's typical/atypical development class.  

It’s easy to see that you have a wonderful soul and are extremely successful at making those around you feel loved, warm, and safe.
— Mother of an 18-month old