Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Sep 15, 2010

The News Magazine for Parents
April 2004

By Liz Warwick

When Lianne Castelino was expecting her first child eight years ago, she signed up for prenatal classes, eager to absorb as much information as possible. During one of the classes, the teacher played a video about breastfeeding.

Lianne’s critical eye as a professional broadcast journalist took over. “I was thinking, I could do better than this,” said Lianne who works at CFCF television. The information was dated and the production values almost nil. “I didn’t know why I was watching it.”

So Lianne went home and did some research. She discovered that while the market for baby information books and gadgets has been flooded, there isn’t that much available on video or DVD. Most audiovisual productions tackle only one topic (breastfeeding for example), are produced in the United States and are rarely updated.

She wrote a business plan for a video designed to show new parents the basics of caring for a newborn. She approached several hospitals and, although they loved the idea, budgets were being cut and money was tight, so Lianne was forced to shelve the idea.

A new collaboration
Jump forward to 2003. After another baby, Lianne decided to dust off the business plan and take another look. This time, she approached another local broadcast journalist, Andrea Howick to work on the project. Between them they had four children and several years experience in television. Three Montreal hospitals 0 the Royal Victoria, Sir Mortimer B. Davis – Jewish General and St. Mary’s – all agreed to be involved.

The guiding philosophy behind the video is to present baby care information in clear, bite-sized nuggets. As Andrea points out, a woman giving birth today rarely spends more than 36 hours in the hospital. “It’s a very short window for parents to learn the basics of bringing a baby home,” she says. “There’s just such an enormous learning curve.” Lianne adds, “The nurses are amazing but with the staff shortages, you just don’t have one-on-one time and people are giving you tons of information.”

In the 70-minute video entitled Bringing Baby Home, nurses and doctors show parents how to care for newborns and babies up to 6 months. There are a number of real infants – some squalling, some calm – as well as nervous new parents who fumble, try again and gain confidence in their ability to care for their child. Topics include breastfeeding, bathing, sleeping, vaccinations, as well as colic, teething and fever. There is a section on postpartum care for the mother and a family therapist offers advice and counsel to couples.

The two women say they are particularly proud of the section addressing car seat use. “You can’t imagine how many people don’t install car seats properly,” says Lianne. A Transport Canada survey suggests at least 30 per cent of car seats are improperly installed, but spot checks by auto safety groups have found improper installation rates run as high as 80 per cent. Andrea and Lianne contacted the Canadian Automobile Associations (CAA) who agreed to participate. In the video, a CAA representative shows step-by-step how to install a rear-facing car seat (the recommended position for a baby under one). There are tips and reminders about the small but important details that, if forgotten, can reduce the effectiveness of the car seat in an accident.

The video also includes an introduction and answers to frequently asked parenting questions by Dr. Denis Leduc, a Montreal pediatrician and vice-president of the Canadian Paediatric Society. Dr. Leduc was a very big proponent of the project, serving as the medical advisor for the video to ensure the information was up-to-date and accurate.

Getting the word out
The two women, who have created their own production company called Liandrea Productions Inc., are now marketing the video across the city. It is currently available at the three hospitals involved in the project as well as at KidLink in NDG. It should be showing up soon at other area hospitals and CLSCs. Their goal is to have it distributed across Canada and the United States.

Lianne says Bringing Baby Home will be updated regularly as new information emerges. They also hope to begin producing an entire series of videos on topics such as first-aid, nutrition, and toilet training. “We really want to continue to hit on topics that parents find important,” she said.
Bringing Baby Home is available in both VHS and DVD format. You can order a copy online.

Published by:Liz Warwick

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