Parents are boycotting a popular sleep training program after learning the founder donated money to Trump campaigns.
Cara Dumaplin is the creator of the Taking Cara Babies courses, which promise to teach parents how to help their babies sleep through the night. Mentions of the courses are ubiquitous in parenting groups, where Dumaplin is often hailed as a sleep guru and her program a saving grace for new moms and dads.
"One person told me, 'You need this course, it's going to change your life,'" Sarah Kontorovsky, a 25-year-old mom in Greenville, South Carolina, told TODAY. "And it did."
Then Kontorovsky, who emigrated from Nicaragua three years ago, found out about Dumaplin's donations, which were shared widely on social media this week.
Campaign finance data records show that she made dozens of donations to Trump campaigns between December 2016 and December 2019. There are also multiple records of donations to Trump campaigns in 2020 under the name Ludwig Dumaplin, who appears to be her husband and is a pediatrician originally from the Philippines. (Dumaplin has blogged about his family's history.)
"She supports an administration that has been very aggressive to Hispanic immigrants like my husband and I, and the money I paid for her courses funded campaigns that fundamentally reject my family," Kontorovsky said. "And I find that unacceptable."
Many other parents felt the same way and shared their frustrations on social media. Some began to share competing parenting programs from people whose political views aligned more closely with theirs. Others revealed that they had emailed Taking Cara Babies to ask for a refund.
Kristina Edmunson of Portland, Oregon, even shared on Twitter the letter she sent to the company, writing, "Even though my 5-month-old still takes naps, she is woke."
Edmunson, 36, told TODAY that part of what bothered her was the consistency of the donations.
"This wasn't just a one-off," she said. "It made me understand that this was a really committed action on her part."
Dumaplin declined an interview, but sent the following statement to TODAY.
"Taking Cara Babies is about helping babies get sleep and parents reclaiming the joy of parenthood that’s often lost due to sleep deprivation," she said. "Between 2016 and 2019, I made a series of donations (totaling $1,078) to the Trump campaign. As with many citizens, there were aspects of the Trump Administration that I agreed with and some that I disagreed with. I will continue to serve all parents by empowering them with the tools they need to help their babies sleep."
Although many people learned about her for the first time this week, Dumaplin is a popular figure in the parenting world. Many new moms and dads stumble upon her program, likely in a bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived haze, through Instagram, where Taking Cara Babies had 1.3 million followers on Thursday. Perhaps her most popular course is "The ABCs of Sleep," which ranges from $179 to $319, depending on whether or not phone consults with a certified sleep consultant are included.
Many who disagree with her politics also admit the program works, like Kontorovsky and Edmunson. Some offered to share the PDF that comes with "The ABCs of Sleep" with others for free, despite a note that's included in the document asking readers not to, saying that doing so would be "illegal and unethical."
Yet others called out "cancel culture" and shared support for Dumaplin, arguing that her politics shouldn't be relevant.
"Maybe I'm not a real Democrat anymore, but I don't think it's fair," one person wrote on Twitter.
As another woman put it, "People are allowed to think differently than you."