Hi! I'm Lara Elfstrand, early learning specialist and "tour guide on the adventure into parenthood"

 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 English/Spanish-speaking early learning specialist. 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 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."  

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.

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. 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 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

Lara was great with her child development insight and expertise.
— An expectant mother in Pacifica, CA