What is a Child Sleep Consultant?
The most basic answer is a child sleep consultant is someone with knowledge of baby and child sleep who shares their knowledge with other people. Some consultants may be self taught and rely on their parenting experience while others have been through a training and certification program.
Some certification programs teach their graduates one method of teaching independent and others teach their graduates a variety of methods. The most important criteria your consultant needs to meet is that she understands the “why” behind her recommendations. An equally important criteria is that your consultant is a good fit for your family.
I combine my years as a pediatric nurse practitioner, experience as a parent of two, and certification from the Family Sleep Institute and work with your to craft a plan that fits your family.
Why Use a Child Sleep Consultant?
Great question! As a certified infant and child sleep consultant, it is my job to provide education, encouragement, and support on your journey to improve your child’s sleep. Your job is to be the consistent, supportive parent who encourages your child, sets up a solid sleep framework, and gives him or her the space to show off what he/she can do. We will work together to ensure you have the tools you need to succeed!
Is sleep training possible without the assistance of a sleep consultant? Absolutely! Many parents sleep train very successfully on their own and their children become fabulous sleepers. If this is you, I hope you take advantage of my blog where you will find articles to support you in your efforts.
Other parents desire the education, support, and encouragement that comes from working with a sleep consultant. It can be very helpful to have the input from someone who can see your child’s sleep struggles from the bird’s eye view that is hard to have when you are exhausted. If this is you, take advantage of my support offerings and see which one is the best fit for your family.
Isn’t Sleep Training Just Crying It Out?
This is one of the most common myths I hear regarding sleep training. Many people think sleep training = cry it out (CIO). This is a myth! Cry It Out is not a method of sleep training, and is simply a term fraught with emotion.
Sleep training is merely setting a child up for sleep success through whichever avenue is chosen by you, the parent. All of the families I work with come to me because what they have been doing in order to help their child sleep is no longer sustainable for their family. This means that they have decided to “sleep train” their child, or teach their child a new way to fall asleep. We train our children how to do a lot of things! Sleep is simply one of those things that you, the parent, have decided to work on with your child.
What Sleep Training Method Do You Use?
A variety! Sleep training is unique to each family that there is not one “golden ticket” method that works for everyone. That said, there are essentials that are key to nail down and do not change from family to family: sleep-friendly schedule, sleep-friendly routines, and sleep-friendly environment. When these three things are in place, teaching a child a new way to fall asleep becomes much easier. Without them, sleep is much harder to improve.
I use 3 basic “methods” of sleep training:
- No parental involvement
- Moderate parental involvement
- High parental involvement
Choosing the best method for you and your child depends on your parenting style, your child’s personality, and your timeline. Remember, if what worked in 2 nights for your best friend’s child is not working for you, don’t feel badly. Sleep training is not one-size-fits-all.
Will My Child Cry?
Great question! No parent likes to hear their child cry. However, crying is not always a bad thing. For pre-verbal children, crying is their method of communicating displeasure. When you decide to sleep train, you have decided to change something about your child’s sleep situation. Because people are by nature creatures of habit (babies too!), most likely your baby won’t love the change, no matter how small. He or she will communicate this displeasure to you by crying. The important thing to remember is that you will be encouraging and supporting your child as you navigate this change together. Your child is learning different way of falling asleep and there will be ups and downs along the way.
Picture a child who is learning how to walk and takes a tumble – you wouldn’t carry them the rest of their lives because they stumbled while learning a new skill, right? Instead, you would help them up, wipe their tears, and encourage them as they try again. Sleep works the same way! You’ll be right there as your child’s biggest cheerleader, knowing that the hard parts of learning a new way of sleeping will pay off in the end.
Despite what is sometimes promised, there is no guaranteed 100% tear-free way to sleep train.
What if I Co-sleep?
If you are currently bed-sharing and wish for your child to start sleeping in his/her own sleep space, I am happy to help with this transition!
For liability reasons, I am unable to work with families of children under the age of 1 who desire to continue to bed-share or use a “side-car” that is pushed up against or attached to your bed. For more information on safe sleep for children under a year of age, this post is helpful.
What Ages Do You Work With?
I work with children from newborn through 5 years of age, and also work with expectant parents preparing for their new baby.
Newborn through 3 months: I will work with you to create a healthy sleep foundation that sets the stage for independent sleep. I do not recommend formal sleep training at this age, but there are several things we can do to set you up for future success.
4 months through 5 months of age: I will work with you to start developing independent sleep habits and the basis of a sleep-friendly schedule. Please know that naps of varying lengths are developmentally normal at this age and a consistent schedule of lengthy naps may not fall in place until about 6 months of age.
Six months through 5 years of age: We will work together to solve all of your child’s sleep struggles!
How Long Does Sleep Training Take?
I wish I could give you an exact answer! Each child is unique. Some children adapt quickly to change while others are slower to adjust. Furthermore, some sleep struggles are quicker fixes than others.
Also, some methods of sleep training tend to produce quicker results than others. Perhaps most importantly, I cannot overstate how important parental consistency is to sleep training success.
Most of the time, provided there is a sleep-friendly schedule, sleep-friendly routines, a sleep-friendly environment and that you are consistent in using your chosen method, there will be noticeable improvement within 1-2 weeks for nighttime struggles and 2-4 weeks for naps.
Do You Guarantee Success?
I wish I could! I guarantee that I will provide you the best education, support, and encouragement that I can. But ultimately you are the one in your home with your child and the one managing their sleep. How you chose to use the education and support provided is up to you! I will be your biggest cheerleader, but you are the player on the field. Go team!
Can I Start Now?
I have a few recommendations regarding the timing of sleep training. I recommend choosing a time when your schedule is clear from the following items.
- You have no overnight travel within the next 3-4 weeks.
- You have no or very few (1-2) days during your desired sleep training window when your daytime schedule will be markedly abnormal.
- There are no upcoming social changes in your child’s life in the next month (new teacher, new baby, new school etc).
If your schedule is clear in regards to the above points, you can start at anytime!