Ever been curious what a Certified Child Sleep Consultant does, and how they can help your family?
The anticipation of child sleep training can be nerve-racking if you go into it without having done research, without developing a solid plan to implement, and without a strategy to troubleshoot when things aren’t going according to plan.
However, no need to worry!
Working with a Child Sleep Consultant is a great tool to pull out of your parenting tool kit when you need it! Think of a sleep consultant as a live version of an infant or toddler sleep book, trained on all of the material, there in real time to help you reach your goals!
Follow me (and Declan!) as I explain how to best navigate the (sometimes) scary world of “sleep training,” and break down exactly what a service like ours here at Big Sky Lullaby can provide.
What is a Child Sleep Consultant?
A child Sleep Consultant works with families and teaches them how to teach their child to sleep independently. This results in long, restorative naps, sleeping through the night, (with or without a night feed, depending on age and pediatrician recommendation) and finding comfort in their sleep environment. Child Sleep Consultants work with parents in order to come up with a customized plan that teaches their child self soothing skills.
What are the benefits of hiring a Child Sleep Consultant?
Creating a detailed and thorough, Customized Sleep Plan: Parents that reach out to me, are more often than not… (spoiler alert) EXHAUSTED! Not only from lack of sleep, but also from feeling a sense of defeat pertaining to the issue of sleep in their home. Therefore, it is one of the most important jobs of a Child Sleep Consultant to let your client know that you will now take over from here, and lead them to their desired results!
When working with a consultant, one of the biggest things that we will do, is TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF IT FOR YOU!
- I am going to tell you exactly what to do
- Exactly How to do it
- And I am going to be right there with you as you walk through the process
Parents don't have to come up with all of the details and answers themselves, they will have a certified child sleep specialist to bounce ideas off of, talk through concerns with, and develop a customized approach that they feel confident implementing consistently. When parents are 100% confident in their sleep plan and the strategy/method they have chosen, (and have reviewed it with a professional) it makes a BIG DIFFERENCE!
Support: I can honestly say that a vast number of my clientele would have never made it through night 1 without my 1:1 coaching, in real time. Night 1 at bedtime is usually the hardest night of the process. Once we get past that, we have taken a BIG step forward! However, taking that step is not always easy. Having a support network to text or call has had a big impact on my clients over the years. I have even found that explaining to parents that they can reach out to me anytime they want (day or night) during the process, tends to relieve a big portion of their anxiety, if they happen to be anxious about sleep training.
Experiencing “sleep setbacks” during the process is very common, but can often be discouraging to a parent. There are so many changes going on, especially during that first year, which makes it seem like there is always something to deal with.
For example: an approaching milestone can be very disruptive to sleep, which causes parents to worry that the training they have worked so hard on is vanishing before their eyes!! This is not the case at all, and it is in moments like this when it is my task as a sleep consultant to coach you through those frustrating times, walk you through those setbacks, and get you right back on track when they are over.
Accountability: Clients explain that before hiring me, if they tried something to help their child sleep and it didn't work the first time, they never tried again. Or, they report that they tried something and it worked once, but it didn’t work the following night, so they stopped and gave up. Holding clients accountable for the much needed consistency during the training process is one of the other most important jobs of a Child Sleep Consultant. I always remind my clients that we can’t communicate with our babies, therefore the only thing we can do is send them clear and consistent messages!
Troubleshooting: Throughout the two weeks we are often met with “curve balls,” in the form of new teeth, milestones, growth spurts, illness, travel, etc. It is in these moments that parents tend to resort to their old “tricks” just to get back to sleep quickly. If/when you reach a “setback,” instead of giving up, your sleep consultant will talk you through what happened, how things could have gone differently, and what we can do differently in the future. Remember that your child will take time to adjust to the changes in routine and the new schedule that is being established. Try not to forfeit changes too quickly if you are confident in your plan, give them time to straighten out!
BIG Misconceptions about Child Sleep Consultants.
- We favor the “cry it out” method.
This is always an interesting concept to me because I hired a Child Sleep Consultant for my son (9 years ago) because I refused to use the “cry it out” or “extinction” method, and I was determined to find another way.
- They will push you in one direction and not leave room for flexibility.
When parents reach out to me, one of the first questions they ask is what my philosophy is and what method I use. Basically, they are asking if their child is going to be crying the entire time. I always explain to parents that there will be crying, however, it does not mean that you need to be separated from your child while they are upset. Also, we don’t have to do anything quickly, gradual approaches are great for many families! There are many options and we can customize them for the perfect fit!
- We think every child should be our client.
Whenever I present to a large group, I always end my presentation by stating that I do not believe that every child needs the help of a sleep consultant. However, it is my mission, (and a very strong passion of mine) to make sure that the parents who want help and need help, simply know that it exists! Some children are born sensitive sleepers and need help learning skills and adjusting to a schedule, while others are not and their sleep schedules allow for a lot more flexibility. This concept is comparable to breastfeeding with a child who is born and latches right away, versus a child who needs to see a lactation consultant to learn how to latch properly. Sometimes, we all just need a little help!
How do you know if you have found the right Child Sleep Consultant for your family?
Working with a family in this type of setting is intimate, which is why I strongly suggest making sure you are comfortable with the sleep training consultant you hire. It is important to pay attention to a Child Sleep Consultant’s demeanor, the way she offers guidance and advice, and most importantly her willingness to listen to your family's individual needs. One of the most important qualities to look for in a potential candidate is their ability to acknowledge your parenting style and teach you how to make sleep changes, while also respecting your beliefs and possible hesitations toward some aspects of a program.
A reputable Child Sleep Consultant will never try to push you in one direction or the other. They should be trained on all of the sleep training methods, and it is their job to find a method that matches the needs of each individual family.
When doing your research, decide if you and your child need basic information (written for the masses) because the sleep situation in your home is not desperate, but as a Mom you want to make sure it is where it should be. Or, if you need someone that will provide unlimited support throughout the two weeks for a variety of reasons including a desperate sleep situation, no outside support or help, the ability to hold you accountable to make sure that you follow through with the program.
Be wary of anyone that tells you that they can “sleep train” a newborn (any child younger than 16 weeks of age, adjusted if necessary). A newborn cannot be “sleep trained.” I have been in many situations where a family comes to me in a desperate state because they hired someone that was trying to sleep train their 8 week old baby and now their child is 4 months old and things are a complete mess. That being said, there are many things a Child Sleep Consultant can teach you and work with you on during the newborn phase, but nothing is strict and we cannot officially “sleep train.”
The best piece of advice I can give surrounding this topic is…. Whether you choose to work with a Child Sleep Consultant, or venture though sleep training on your own, make sure you have a thorough and solid sleep plan in place. Also, make sure that everyone in the family has agreed upon the details, have committed to following it, and are comfortable implementing it consistently.
I hope you have enjoyed letting Declan guide you through the scary forest of sleep training!
Hopefully your questions and curiosities were answered, if not, please contact me and I am happy to explain it to you further.