Niantic shop is a place for moms to get answers and a break

Minttu Ovaska, an employee at the Nurture Nest, located at 9 Methodist St., Niantic, assists a customer on the phone, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (Tim Martin/The Day)
Minttu Ovaska, an employee at the Nurture Nest, located at 9 Methodist St., Niantic, assists a customer on the phone, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (Tim Martin/The Day)

East Lyme — While moving back and forth between southeastern Connecticut and National Guard stations in the South with two kids, Waterford native Korie Witcraft found there weren’t any stores or groups that provided support for breastfeeding, cloth diapering and natural approaches to parenting. With her family’s most recent resettlement in Niantic, she decided to start her own.

Inspired by a cousin who worked in a natural parenting store in Montana, Witcraft opened Nurture Nest in a tiny shopfront on Methodist Street in August 2015, starting with cloth diapers and children’s clothing. The store has since doubled in size and expanded to offer other products as well as classes for children and parents.

“With our route for pregnancy being so medical and not as natural as I had thought it would be growing up, I wanted something to be normal and natural,” she said.

Witcraft said her first daughter had issues breastfeeding while they were stationed in North Carolina, with the only groups around meeting once a month. After her second daughter was born here and she started looking into the chemicals used in baby products, she recognized the need for those services in Connecticut as well.

When it came down to finding a location for it, Niantic was the perfect spot.

“We live in a community which is really focused on shopping locally,” she said, “and we’re particular about what we put in the store. We want to make sure they’re products that are useful and things that you might not necessarily be able to find everywhere.”

Witcraft said that while the store caters to parents interested in eco-friendly clothing, toys and other baby supplies, it’s designed to be a resource for all parents in the area, whether they need help installing a carseat, want to find a locally made sweater, or have a question about their cloth diaper.

Store employee Becky Embree said she came to Nurture Nest as a customer and found it to be a welcoming and nonjudgmental place.

“I loved coming in because I didn’t have many friends who had kids, so this was one of my activities to do,” she said. “Moms get a little break here, you can put your toddler down and you know they’re safe, and you get a little conversation in.”

The store is outfitted with toys, including a bucket of sidewalk chalk outside, for visiting children to play with while their parents shop. Witcraft, who has worked in the childcare field since 2003, also offers children’s classes and play groups, many of which are taught by parents who came to other classes and offered their skills.

For parents, Nurture Nest has hosted a cloth diaper exchange, a Big Latch On event to promote breastfeeding awareness, a baby-wearing lending library, various photo sessions and a new “Mom Mingle” night for moms to get out of the house for an hour or two and hang out with other local moms. Embree said they’ve led mini-sessions on cloth diapering and other popular topics, and often customers pop in with quick questions.

“I just love seeing the moms come back in and saying that something you helped them with made a difference with,” she said. “Even if someone comes in and purchases nothing but you had a good conversation with them, maybe that changed their day a little bit.”

a.hutchinson@theday.com

Nurture Nest, located at 9 Methodist St., Niantic, sells cloth diapers and children’s clothing, as well as holding classes for children and parents. (Tim Martin/The Day)
Nurture Nest, located at 9 Methodist St., Niantic, sells cloth diapers and children’s clothing, as well as holding classes for children and parents. (Tim Martin/The Day)

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