Help, Please: Raegan Moya Jones of Aden + Anais

Chief correspondent and new mom SuChin Pak finds out how other moms parent

aden and anais!

I was one of those new moms who left my baby registry in the more capable hands of friends who had children. In truth, they shooed me away at the sight of my initial list filled with useless, romantic items. I noticed there were a few items that every one of them recommended — Sophie the Giraffe, Good Night Moon, and Aden + Anais swaddle blankets. From day cares to the Kardashians, these simple muslin blankets are universally loved. Australian-born and -bred Raegan Moya Jones, founder and CEO of Aden + Anais, tells me how the whole thing started and how parenting has changed her. — SuChin Pak

How did Aden + Anais start?
The beginning was pretty much the same as most entrepreneurial stories. I had the idea in 2003 after my first daughter, Anais, was born. I went looking for muslin in the United States, and no one had even heard of muslin baby wraps. I then spent the next two years trying to find a manufacturer, and, once we did, I took my savings and placed an order. It arrived at my then business partner’s home [she sold her share of the business to me back in 2008] in Los Angeles, and we proceeded to go door to door to small specialty boutiques. I had the sales background, so I did most of the selling. We went to market with Aden + Anais products in July 2006, and I did not leave my full-time job until May 2009. So when I was on sales trips around the country for work, I would spend my lunch hour taking the products into any boutique that looked like it carried baby products.

Why swaddle with muslin?
When you swaddle a baby, you are effectively wrapping him or her in four to six layers of fabric; anything heavier than a sheetlike fabric is too much for swaddling, and you run the risk of overheating the baby. Muslin is a light, open weave, so it helps reduce the risk of overheating when you swaddle the baby. It also has a natural stretch, which helps make swaddling easier.

Do you remember the moment you knew it was going to be big?
Yes, it wasn’t actually me but the owner of The Upper Breast Side in NYC, Felina Rakowski-Gallagher, who gave me our first indication that we had hit something big. I had sold her a dozen of our four-packs, and she called me two days later to tell me that they had sold all of them. I remember her saying, “Lady, hold onto your hat, because you are in for a wild ride with these blankets.” She was right.

aden and anais!

Tell me about the Swaddle Love Foundation you founded.
A few years back Markos [her husband] and I were looking into adopting a baby. After finding out that at 41 I was considered too old to adopt an infant, I wanted to see if there was a way around the system. After looking into international orphanages, I became aware of the heartbreaking situation of babies left alone for such long periods of time that they conditioned themselves not to cry. They instinctively knew that no one was coming for them. I had just finished writing Swaddle Love, and during that process I had learned about a condition called touch deprivation. It has been scientifically proven that if a baby is not held or interacted with enough in the first few years of [his or her] life, [he or she] will develop physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. So I set up the foundation with the core mission of trying to eliminate touch deprivation.

Besides muslin swaddling, what other Australian traditions do you have at home?
PawPaw ointment was a staple, which was the inspiration behind our Mum + Bub skin care line. And, of course, there’s Vegemite. I personally can’t stand the stuff, but my husband and four daughters love it. Actually, Anais has it on a pita bread every day for her lunch at school. She hasn’t been able to convince any of her friends to try it though, and I don’t blame them. That said, when I tell other Aussies that I can’t stand Vegemite, they want to have me exiled.

What was your “Whoa, I’m a parent” moment?
The first time I said no to another drink because I realized that dealing with a baby the next morning hungover was not worth the fun of the extra glass of champagne.

What was your last big parenting fail?
Bribing Amelie with jelly beans and chocolate when toilet training her, although it ended up a success — she totally got it as soon as I introduced the candy-reward factor.

What was your last big parenting success?
Every time a parent tells me how kind our four girls are to other children and how wonderful their manners are.

The most important bit of advice you’d like to tell your friends without kids.
Wait. Although parenting is without a doubt the most wonderful, fulfilling experience you will ever have, kids also suck the life out of you, and life as you knew it is gone forever once you have babies. It is no longer ever about you and always about them. So make sure you enjoy plenty of nonkid time before you dive into the deep end of parenting.

aden and anais!

Something you’ve learned from watching other parents with kids: That kids are irrational beings who didn’t ask to be here. We chose to bring them into this big, wild world, so it’s our duty to be the grown-up and stay calm when they are being their frustrating, irrational little selves.

Your girls are writing a book about you; what’s the title?
I just asked Anais this question, and without hesitation she said The Life of My Crazy Mum. She’s now grounded.

Rule you never break: I never forget to remind them to say please and thank you, even though, after four kids, I am absolutely sick of the sound of my own voice.

Your biggest vice: Champagne

Thing you miss most since having kids: My prebaby body

Thing you miss least since having kids: Hangovers

Parenting habit you swore you would never do, but now do frequently: I never swore not to do anything, because I had no clue about what I was getting myself into. Like most parents, I just went for it and then had a complete heart attack when Anais was born and I realized after the fact that she didn’t come with an instruction manual.

Beauty item in your makeup bag: BB cream

Bedtime book: Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg

Baby carrier: BabyBjörn

Stroller: I’ve had many over the past nine years, but right now my favorite and most used is the Britax B-Agile.

Meal-time accessory: Emma Bridgewater melamine plates and cups

Go-to family dinner: Tacos

Daily morning reads: My girls’ homework packets and the mountain of school newsletters and notices that come home every day.

aden and anais!

Photos: Niki Dankner & Stephania Stanley / DailyCandy