We know it takes a village to prepare for and welcome your new baby. Of course, finding that village, from childbirth instructors to doulas to the best babysitting service, can seem overwhelming—there is so much information out there these days. But don’t worry! Your fellow readers have stepped up to help. Our annual Best: Moms & Babies survey features the best of the best in all these topics (and more), chosen by you. Consider it our baby gift to you.
Best Childbirth Instructor & Best Doula
Melissa Espey-Mueller, ProDoula CD Labor & Educator, CLE – North Dallas Doula Associates
As director of new parent education at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and Medical City Las Colinas, Espey-Mueller’s motto is that the best birth is an informed and supported birth. Given her slogan and extensive experience (she’s celebrating 20 years at North Dallas Doula Associates), it’s no wonder our readers vote for her in our survey year after year. Her class menu includes just about every topic you could imagine (seriously!), from Prenatal Wellness to Rocking Dads—yep, partners are included, too.
As owner and directory of NDDA, Espey-Mueller offers doula services to thousands of families each year; moms trust her for her dedication to each birth and array of services. Espey-Mueller—a DONA- and ProDoula-trained, master-level doula—keeps up with moms after delivery through postpartum doula support (from emotional support to pumping and bottle feeding aid) and offers placenta encapsulation, pre-conception planning and certified lactation consulting––to name a few of her services. She also is a gynecologic teaching associate (GTA) through Texas A&M Health Science Center.
107 Murray St., Dallas, northdallasdoulas.com
Childbirth instructor: Rosemary Zinser – Medical City Dallas
Doula: Keisha Baker, CD (DONA) – Dallas Birth Doulas
Best Hospital To Have a Baby
Baylor University Medical Center
We know choosing the right hospital to deliver your family’s newest addition is important. Our readers trust Baylor University Medical Center for their attentive physicians and comfortable amenities––for both you and your family. The New Family Center includes private rooms and a daybed for your support person. Services for you, Mom, include nitrous oxide, wireless fetal monitoring, aromatherapy and snacks upon entering the postpartum room. After birth, baby will stay with you in the Family Center, as you both receive care together. This is part of Baylor Dallas’ mission to promote education and confidence between you, your family and your new baby. Baylor Dallas also recently partnered with North Dallas Doula Associates to offer childbirth classes.
3500 Gaston Ave., Dallas; bswhealth.com/dallaschildbirth
Runner-up: Medical City Dallas
Best Birthing Center
Lovers Lane Birth Center
For the birth center experience or birthing at home, our readers choose Lovers Lane Birth Center, a midwifery practice in Richardson (near Cottonwood Park). Located in a quiet neighborhood, the center is decorated in calming colors, like soft blue and green, plus there’s a family room and kitchen. Here, soon-to-be moms can opt to see the center’s midwives early on for prenatal visits; discussions touch on overall health, including the best diet and supplement options. The midwives typically check on moms two to three days after the birth, too. Sign up online for a tour.
304 S. Cottonwood Drive, Suite A, Richardson; dallasmidwife.com
Runner-up: Urban Family Co-Op (formally Dallas Birth Center)
Taylor Houser, DNP, CNM – Dallas Midwife Associates
Led by a belief that every woman deserves choices, certified nurse-midwife Taylor Houser (who also holds a doctorate of nursing practice) has seven years of experience serving women and babies. Along with her mother, she founded Dallas Midwife Associates, where she offers boutique-style prenatal, labor, birth and postpartum care. Additionally, the practice provides well-woman services, including pre-conception counseling and family planning options. This year, DMA is welcoming a fifth midwife to the practice and expanding its postpartum program to offer amenities like a fitness series and support group.
3611 Swiss Ave., Suite 200, Dallas; dallasmidwifeassociates.com
Runner-up: Adrienne Jones, MSN, RN, CNM – Modern Midwifery & Wellness
Our readers trust Primrose Schools, which was founded over 30 years ago, for their babies’ educational growth. The private preschools provide care and classes for littles as young as 6 weeks old, nurturing infants’ development through movement, music, sign language and more. Titled Balanced Learning, the curriculum places equal value on a variety of learning areas so kids leave fully equipped to enter preschool or big-kid school. All teachers have experience in child development and are first aid- and CPR-trained.
Multiple locations; primroseschools.com
Runner-up: Bright Horizons
Best Babysitting Service
Mom’s Best Friend
When our readers and their partners need to take the night off, they call Mom’s Best Friend—a household staffing agency (with decades of experience serving families) that is quite literally a mom’s best friend. Much more than a babysitting service, MBF matches families throughout Dallas-Fort Worth with full- and part-time nannies, housekeepers, personal assistants––even chefs. Their sitters are all certified in CPR and first aid, in addition to completing a 10-step screening process. They can care for littles as young as newborns. Find your next babysitter (or chef) by calling or searching online.
Best Parent + Baby Classes
The Little Gym
For fun time with a side of educational play, The Little Gym’s parent and child classes are a favorite among our readers. The 45-minute classes (for babies as young as 4 months) involve age-appropriate activities and exercises; the theme, music and gym setup change each week. As young children are exploring and learning about the big world around them, classes focus on developing strength, balance and spatial awareness, plus social skills.
6465 E. Mockingbird Lane, Suite 410, Dallas
11909 Preston Road, Suite 1442, Dallas; thelittlegym.com
Best Infant Swim Classes
Emler Swim School
With heated, saltwater pools (with a max depth of 4 feet), it’s no wonder families flock to Emler Swim School for kiddos to earn their fins. As an added bonus, pools have ultraviolet water purification systems, and some locations boast dehumidifiers. The veteran Best: Moms & Babies winner offers year-round swim lessons for children as young as 2 months. Swimmers move up levels as they get older and master breath control and independent movement; until then, as your little one splashes away, you are right there in the water with them.
9820 N. Central Expressway, Suite 500, Dallas
11909 Preston Road, Suite 1422, Dallas; emlerswimschool.com
Runner-up: YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas
Best Sleep Consultant
Rest To Your Nest with Mary Cantwell
Our readers continually trust certified sleep consultant Mary Cantwell for her dedication to bringing restful nights to families across Dallas-Fort Worth. Rest To Your Nest was born from Cantwell’s own struggles with sleep upon giving birth to her first son. Her program begins with an evaluation call, followed by a customized sleep plan. Cantwell educates families on the art and science of sleep, with the goal of bringing clarity and sanity back to your brood.
Runner-up: Live Love Sleep
Best Sleep Disorder Experts
Children’s Health Sleep Disorders Center
Sleep is baby’s (and Mom’s) best friend, we know. So when things are going awry in the snooze department, our readers call the Children’s Health Sleep Disorders Center. Their board-certified physicians, psychologists, respiratory therapists and sleep technologists (yep—it’s a whole team!) determine your child’s diagnosis and come up with a personalized plan. Plus, their facilities feature amenities for ultimate kiddie comfort, such as TVs, games and themed rooms.
2620 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas; childrens.com
Runner-up: Pediatric Sleep Institute
Image courtesy of iStock.