President and founder of Platypus Media, Dia Michels is an internationally published, award-winning parenting writer. While her topics include science and math books for middle grade students, her passion is promoting attachment parenting and supporting breastfeeding.

A popular speaker, she lectures frequently at universities, libraries, and conferences across the country, including Gold Lactation, the Child Health Education and Care Summit, BreastfeedLA, and National WIC.

Read about her talks below.

1000 Days in Gap City

Exploring the Relationship Between the Breastfeeding Gap and the Word Gap

The first 1000 days of life is an extraordinary period of potential; tragically, almost half of America’s babies and toddlers live in or near poverty, and research shows that poverty diminishes brain growth. One source of diminished brain potential is the 30-Million-Word Gap—the differential in the number of words children in different socio-economic groups hear in the first three years. The Word Gap is receiving quite a bit of attention, but less noticed is the parallel Breastfeeding Gap. Children who are not breastfed exhibit lower health and intellectual outcomes throughout life, mirroring the symptoms that accompany the Word Gap. Significantly, the behaviors that accompany breastfeeding provide opportunities to sing, talk, and read with your child, offering a strategy to attack this disparity. Examining the relationship between the Breastfeeding and the Word Gap helps us understand the unique role breastfeeding plays in promoting literacy and reducing the Word Gap. 

At the end of this session the participant will be able to... 

  • Appreciate the importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life and understand that what happens in the home before the child begins school can affect not just kindergarten readiness, but a person’s achievement throughout life.

  • Explore how the behaviors that happen organically in a breastfeeding home promote literacy.

Safe Infant Sleep

What Health Professionals Need to Know to Promote Safe Sleep Environments

Throughout history and across cultures, cosleeping has been the norm. Whether for protection, warmth, food, or comfort, humans (and other mammals) have routinely slept side by side with their young. Yet, today, the practice is fraught with questions, fear, and guilt. Claiming that cosleeping puts babies at risk for SIDS and suffocation, public health officials insist that no baby should ever sleep in the same bed as an adult. Yet, despite extensive and graphic public health campaigns warning against the practice, many moms still cosleep. How are we to understand the non-compliance rate? Are the public health campaigns accurate? How should health professionals advise parents committed to cosleeping when it is against the AAP recommendation? How do we reconcile human history with these public health messages? Drawing on the latest scientific research and exploring the AAP’s methods of data collection, this workshop addresses these questions and more, offering guidance to health professionals on how to help new parents make the best safe sleep choice for their family.

At the end of this session, the participant will be able to....

  • Make informed statements about infant sleep, drawing a distinction between safe and unsafe forms of cosleeping.

  • Articulate how cosleeping can, when practiced properly, be not only safe and fulfilling for mothers and babies, but actually be protective of infant health.

Breastfeeding Education Starts at the Very Beginning

Strategies to Help Kids Understand that Breastfeeding is Normal

Breastfeeding has long-reaching benefits for babies, mothers, families, and communities. However, the stigma surrounding breastfeeding, the fact that the majority of breastfeeding mothers wean within a few months, and the prevalence of baby bottles as the normative method of feeding a baby do not provide children with adequate exposure to this normal and natural act of parenting. Studies have shown that many women make the decision to breastfeed before they are pregnant, and that girls exposed to breastfeeding are more likely to see breastfeeding as beneficial to both the mother and the infant. Teaching children about breastfeeding familiarizes them with how important breastmilk is to infant development, promotes a better understanding of how mothers provide for their babies, and encourages healthy life choices. This presentation identifies strategies that parents, librarians, educators, health care providers, and community members can use to educate children about this important form of sustenance. Parents are told that ‘breast is best,’ but it’s time for children to be taught that ‘breast is normal’.

At the end of this session, the participant will be able to....

  • Understand why it is both beneficial and necessary to teach children about breastfeeding, and how this knowledge contributes to thriving families.

  • Identify practical strategies for community members to help kids understand that breastfeeding is normal.

Are You Smarter than a Mammalogist?

Game Show

This fun-filled, interactive game challenges your mammal knowledge. What can we learn by exploring how other mammals reproduce and raise their young? With a focus on birth and breastfeeding, we uncover fascinating facts, amazing adaptations, and parenting peculiarities. There are over 6,000 mammal species, ranging in shape, size, and habitat. Learn about the diverse ways mothers gestate their young (in a womb, pouch, or egg), the wide range of young in a litter (hint: it’s related to the number of nipples on the mom), and how fast or slow the babies grow (newborn blue whales gain 8 pounds per hour!). Unlike reptiles, fish, or insects, all newborn mammals need their mothers to survive. Participants will gain an understanding of the way centuries of evolution have prepared every female mammal—including humans—for motherhood. All mammal species are equipped for birth and breastfeeding, but display a stunning variety of strategies to provide their young with shelter, safety, and—most importantly—milk. Come ready to learn, and leave with a deeper understanding of your inner mammal. Plus, pick up prizes along the way!

At the end of this session the participant will be able to... 

  • Recognize that, despite the vast diversity of the mammal class, all of us – including humans – need mother’s milk.  

  • Uncover the parenting instincts that have been inside of them all along. Relax! Your inner mammal knows how to be a mom.

If My Mom Were a Platypus

What We Can Learn from Studying Mammal Lactation

Mammal mothers fed, protect, and teach their young, even though these tasks may challenge their own needs for survival. Breastfeeding is a crucial piece of a young mammal’s journey from helpless infant to self-sufficient adult. Each of the more than 4,200 species of mammal needs to be raised on breastmilk. This powerful fluid contains a unique combination of water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, cellular content, and anti-infective agents that optimize the growth and development of the young. Dia Michels will discuss what life is like for a variety of mother and baby mammal pairs, how the composition of each species’ milk is designed to optimize their child’s development, and some of the norms—and peculiarities—of lactation. This colorful presentation, from the author of If My Mom Were A Platypus, gives participants a keen sense of what makes mammals special.  

At the end of this session the participant will be able to... 

  • Realize that breastmilk is the route to maximizing emotional, intellectual, and physical growth, and, as such, is the essential first food for all mammals—including humans.  

  • Articulate how mammal mothers address and meet their child’s needs, even when it challenges their own need for survival.

Women as Heroes

Empowerment Through Breastfeeding

How is it that something as wonderful as breastfeeding has an image problem? Just a few generations ago, breastfeeding was as universal as childbirth. Sadly, this is no longer the case. Advertising campaigns by infant formula manufacturers and the complacence and cooperation of the medical community played an important role in creating this situation. But are there other factors leading the the low public regard for breastfeeding in America? In this humorous look at the relationship between breastfeeding and women's self-esteem, Michels explores how our attitudes toward bodily fluids have affected our attitudes towards breastmilk and how our hatred of fat plays a role in our discomfort with women's bodies. While breastfeeding is often thought of as a personal, individual choice, we can come to understand how the choice of infant foods is a profound reflection of the values and priorities of our culture. 

into the School Years

Extending Attachment Parenting Intimacy

Pediatric organizations, medical researchers, and mental health professionals have worked hard in past decades to identify what an infant needs to flourish. Breastfeeding is one of the tools parents have to raise healthy, vibrant, and resilient children. However, there are many other ways a parent can encourage a child's growth and success. This presentation introduces concepts of and strategies for attachment parenting for children of all ages, from infancy through the school years. Explore how shared reading, exercising together, grooming rituals, and nature exploration trigger intellectual stimulation, sensory contact, and healthy family relationships. 

The Hunger for Breastmilk

You can't address the task of feeding all of the people on our planet without looking at the politics surrounding humanity's first and most abundant food. Why are so many hungry babies denied a food that is both nutritious and ample? Economists typically analyze shortage issues using a supply/demand scenario, but this model is useless in explaining why many babies never taste the fluid their mothers so abundantly produce. Join Michels in exploring the relationship between breastmilk and the way land is used, how healthcare resources are spent, and our treatment of the environment. Is our nation's alleged commitment to family values helping families make good choices about infant feeding? Why is there a commitment to universal use of car seats, vaccinations, and lead screening, but not to breastfeeding? How did the federal government become the largest purchaser of infant formula in the country? Find out how breastfeeding promotion can be tied to the goal of curbing world hunger. 

Interested in booking Dia for one of these talks?

Email for more details. 


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