Are you expecting a baby and anxious about how you or your partner will connect with your baby AND stay connected to each other? Are you a parent of a fussy infant? Are you a parent who is struggling with the “terrible two’s”? Are you struggling with overwhelm and sleep deprivation because you have a young child or children at home, and you need some support to create routines that work for your family?
Hi! I'm Lara Elfstrand. My passion is to cultivate relationships so that together we grow families and communities that are healthy, joyful, and resilient. I work with families to reduce feelings of isolation, resentment, and chaos so that we can enjoy our families more and children thrive! After losing our son to mitochondrial disease, my husband and I almost lost our marriage as well. Since then, we have learned what makes families fail and what makes them succeed. This gave me a passion for life and for helping others build well connected families where each person feels KALM (known, appreciated, loved, and therefore motivated to grow and connect).
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to discover what kind of family you want to build and to co-create a plan for how you are going to get there, and to prepare for the inevitable obstacles that are going to get in your way.
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 live in Northern California with my husband, Marshall, and our dog, Brutus.
I am a bilingual English/Spanish-speaking new parent sanity specialist, with a background in early learning and infant family transdisciplinary mental health. I have been called “a tour guide on the adventure into early parenting.” During pregnancy, I can help you to prepare for your life with a baby by thinking together about where you want to go as a family and how you are going to get there. I can help you to be aware of roadblocks that other families have experienced. I can reduce your risk for isolation, resentment, and divorce postpartum. I can ask you questions that you might not have thought of on your own. I can support you to build a positive, playful parenting team by teaching and applying the principles of the Gottman Institute’s Bringing Baby Home program. After your baby is born, I can help to interpret for “the natives” by helping you to read your child’s cues. I can support you in laying a path for resilience by teaching you how to massage your baby. I can support you if you find yourself with a fussy baby. My expertise in early childhood special education has taught me how to use each child's interests and to break learning into little pieces so that every child can learn within their "just right challenge."
Education and expertise: I hold a master’s degree and teaching credential in early childhood special education from Santa Clara University. I am a 2016-2017 graduate of the Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship through U.C. Davis Extension and have been endorsed by the California Center for Infant Family and Early Childhood Mental Health as an Infant Family Advanced Transdisciplinary Mental Health Practitioner. In addition to being a certified Gottman Bringing Baby Home educator, I have expertise in the Pyramid Model through the Center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL); Love and Logic positive parenting techniques; Brazelton’s TouchPoints and Newborn Behavior Observations; the NCAST Parent-Child Interaction Feeding Scale; SPARK Communication early intervention strategies through the Hanen Centre; and the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics through the Child Trauma Academy.
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), and guest speaker at San Jose State University's typical/atypical development class, as well as at Mothers of Preschoolers, Kaiser new parent support groups, and more. Email me at email@example.com if you need a speaker for a parenting or childrearing-related event.