Baby Sleep Specialists… a parent’s best friend– Part 1By: Haley Callicott, Contributor
Every parent has experienced the frustration of putting a restless child to bed. After many failed attempts at getting their baby to bed or establishing a successful nighttime routine, some parents have turned to sleep consultants for assistance. In the first of a two part series, we will discuss who are sleep consultants and what they do.
Who are sleep consultants?
Sleep consulting is an increasingly popular industry for sleep deprived parents who need a little extra help with putting their baby or child to bed. Generally, sleep consultants are certified experts who work with infants and young children to identify and resolve behavioral sleeping troubles.
What do sleep consultants do?
“The first six months [of a newborn’s life] goes by in a blur,” said Sweet Dreams Infant Care sleep specialist, Pam Jones. “We want the parents to enjoy that time with their kids and actually remember it.”
Sleep consultants and sleep trainers work with parents to create a personalized plan to facilitate a better nap and bedtime routine or adjust the bedroom environment to guarantee that the child falls asleep faster and stays asleep for longer periods of time.
Many sleep consultants will offer initial consultations. Most consultants offer phone and/or in-home consultations or an overnight stay where they observe the child’s sleeping patterns. The consultants then offer individualized services, or even sleep plans, based on evaluations of the child’s sleep patterns. They will usually provide follow up appointments in order to monitor progress or make adjustments to the original sleep routine plan.
Sleep consultants usually work with families for two to six weeks. Some offer phone call consultations that may last from 30-90 minutes where they discuss techniques or adjustments to the child’s nap and bedtime schedule.
For in-person consultation and overnight stays, the specialist will require the parents to provide them with a medical or behavior background of the baby via questionnaire or sleep log. Next, they will meet with the family for an initial consultation to talk about their current bedtime routine.
After an overnight observation, the consultant will give the family a plan to make behavioral or environmental changes to help the child’s sleeping problems. For example, they might teach the parents to put the child to bed at a certain time or provide techniques for making sure their child does not get overtired. Some may even suggest environmental changes such as making the room darker or incorporating noise machines into the child’s room.
“My job is to teach people and make sure they understand how sleep works and why it works,” said Jessica Dodson, sleep coach and founder of Starlight Sleep Coaching. “I aim to empower [my clients] with this knowledge.”