Many parents try everything to soothe their child to sleep without success. Singing lullabies, breastfeeding, swinging, or playing sleeping music.
Anna is a mum to a 7-month-old son called Jack. She was having trouble soothing her son to sleep. Having tried all soothing methods, Anna gave up. She was exhausted and didn’t know what to do next! Anna was emotional too and lacked sleep. Each night felt as if she was going for a war.
Anna then decided to turn to books. She read countless articles on infant sleep and tried the suggested techniques. None of them worked as expected. The lack of sleep and an irritable baby were taking a toll on her.
So, she looked for sleep consultants online and chose to hire one. She thought to herself, “if people can pay for therapy, why wouldn’t I pay for a sleep therapist?” Anna felt that she had to do this. For her own health and sanity!
The consultant helped Anna reschedule her son’s feedings. They also worked together to teach Jack to fall asleep on his own in his cot. And, a few weeks later, Jack was sleeping throughout the night.
Many families want to hire a sleep consultant like Anna but have no idea where to start.
How To Choose the Right Sleep Consultant
Baby sleep consulting is a new and growing field. There are many consultants that parents can find online. The goal of this article is to help families choose a consultant that suits them best.
1. Is the Sleep Consultant Certified?
When selecting a sleep consultant, choose one who has undergone a certification program. Why?
By doing so, you’ll be confident that:
- The consultant’s knowledge is scientific-based. And that, they don’t just rely on their personal experience raising children.
- The sleep consultant will have experience on how different sleep training methods work. This specialist will be able to provide you all the information the family need to make an informed decision about their child’s sleep.
2. Does the Sleep Consultant Use a Comprehensive Approach?
The sleep consultant should make sure that you have your child’s physician’s approval before you start sleep training. And that, he has confirmed that your little one doesn’t have any health issues.
When your baby is ready (development-wise), the sleep consultant will collect information about your child through a sleep log and questionnaire. What follows next should be a face-to-face, video, or telephone consultation. This is to make sure that the consultant has a better understanding of all the factors affecting your baby’s sleep.
3. Professional Philosophy
Every consultant has a professional philosophy on child’s sleep that guides their practice. So, it’s important you hire a person who shares your values.
4. Is the Sleep Consultant Compassionate and Caring?
A great sleep consultant should care for you and your baby. Not just the results.
So, go for a consultant who is in line with your needs and that of your family. Someone who can listen to you, not ordering you around on what you are supposed to do.
5. Is the Child Sleep Consultant Humble?
A good sleep consultant should be able to understand that you (as a mother) are the expert on your child and you know your child best. Although the sleep specialist may be an expert on healthy children’s sleep, she should be able to acknowledge that you know a lot more about your child than she does.
6. Realistic About Outcomes
How realistic is the sleep consultant about the outcomes? Does she tell you that she can help you to end night waking in just a couple of days? Does her promises seem too good?
Some babies can stop night waking in just a few days, but most of them need more time to be able to sleep through the night. So, the child sleep consultant should set realistic and attainable goals.
7. Can The Sleep Consultant Meet Your Needs?
When you are looking for a baby sleep consultant, first of all check her website. There you will find information about her philosophy, values and education.
However, engaging the consultant in a phone call will result in a more productive talk. In this way, you will be able to confirm that she can meet your needs and help your baby.
Most sleep consultants offer the so-called “Free 15 min call”. I know this may be appealing to you, but could 15 minutes be enough for a productive conversation?
A good sleep consultant must be able to bond with you well and assess everything about your child’s sleep. That is, learning what’s affecting you and your baby, understanding any health or physiological challenges, and understanding exactly what you need and expect. So, do you think anyone can do all that in 15 minutes?
People have different personality styles and values. Knowing what personality can match yours is important. Thus, if you want to invest in working with a sleep consultant, I would encourage you to invest some of your time and have a comprehensive discussion with her. Observe how she talks and see if she will be able to understand your situation.
8. The “Cry it Out” Debate
Many people associate sleep training with allowing your baby to cry himself to sleep. That’s not the case. Experienced sleep consultants teach babies to fall asleep without parent’s help using gentle alternatives to Cry it Out. These methods involve no tears or minimal tears and allow the parents to provide constant support and comfort during sleep training.
However, it’s important you know that no consultant can guarantee you that your baby wouldn’t cry or resist the technique. Why? Babies express their emotions by crying. Most likely, your child wouldn’t like you to change his sleep habits and for this reason he will protest (by crying).
What’s important is how the sleep consultant plans to handle the protest. Make sure you feel comfortable with the sleep training method your consultant is going to use.
9. Trust Your Instincts
Most probably, you will not be 100% comfortable with any sleep training method. But, the work of a sleep consultant is to guide you on that journey and provide support.
For you to succeed (in sleep training), there should be a two-way communication where respect and honesty are key! So, if you feel like you cannot have this kind of relationship, please trust your instincts and continue searching for the right person!