Is It Time to Call a Sleep Consultant?
You bring your sweet bundle of joy home and are just amazed at the perfect creature before you. You’ve heard the warnings: You know you’ll never sleep again. Say goodbye to sleeping in. And so on and so on.
But after a few months you feel like your baby is the exception. They’re sleeping most of the day and all through the night, convincing you that you’ve created the perfect sleeper.
And then 4 months hits. Or 6 months. And suddenly that same quiet sleeper refuses to sleep unless you’re holding her. Or nursing. Or singing. Or standing. Or walking. And they aren’t so quiet anymore. They cry. And cry. And cry some more. You deal with the shift in your day to day. You put up with sleepless nights for weeks, maybe months, and in some cases, yes, maybe years.
So how do you know when your baby is just going through a phase, or when it’s time to hire professional help? You and your partner will ultimately decide if and when that time comes. Every person has a different threshold for exhaustion, different goals for their babies, and different work situations. Here are 5 situations when a sleep consultant could help you:
- You want to night wean or stop co-sleeping–If you have a toddler who has slept with you since they were a baby, and now you’d like them to move to their own space, you might find it difficult to change their habit. Co-sleeping and/or nursing at night are big habits to break. If you are met with tantrums and tears as you try to make this transition, you’ll need a clear plan and realistic expectations. A sleep consultant can help with setting expectations, coming up with a process, and supporting you on the road to success.
- You have a unique circumstance-Perhaps you have a unique work schedule or there are multiple caregivers for your baby. You might travel frequently and your baby will need to adjust to sleeping in different locations.When you do a quick search on the Internet or pick up a book at the library on baby sleeping, they’ll probably assume a predictability to your schedule. Strategies for teaching babies to sleep better can definitely be tailored to each family, and a sleep consultant can help you design a flexible routine that works for you.
- Do you travel a lot, have a unique work schedule, or have multiple caregivers for your baby?-Most books, blogs and friendly advice about getting babies to sleep well assume a certain predictability to their schedule and are based on a generic set of family circumstances. While there are certain common strategies for teaching babies to sleep better, they can be tailored to each family! A sleep coach can help you design a flexible routine that includes naps, an age appropriate bedtime and soothing pre-sleep routine that works for your situation.
- You’re interested in a gradual approach to sleep training-If you are not in the “cry it out” camp, you might want a sleep consultant’s advice on a way to gently and gradually train them. A sleep consultant should have an arsenal of strategies with one sure to fit your parenting style. A gradual approach may take longer, but if you’re consistent, a sleep consultant can help set you up for success. They can also help you to avoid creating new sleep crutches and keep you moving in the right direction, at a comfortable pace for you.
- You have a toddler and cannot take it anymore-Sleep training at any age is challenging. There are no qualms about that. But age and developmental stage and temperament can affect just how challenging the process is. If you think an 8 month old can cry for a long period, try a 3 year old–hours. While the ideal age to sleep train is between 6 to 18 months, sometimes that age comes and goes and you’re still left with a crying mess at night. Some difficulty at this age is because they’re so mobile. A sleep consultant at this age can help you break some of the habits that come with an older child such as insisting you stay with them until they fall asleep, or trying to postpone bedtime. Maybe they wake up several times throughout the night. But being consistent is key, and a sleep consultant can help you!
Ultimately, whether or not a sleep consultant is the right fit for your situation is a decision left to you and your partner. Remember, a well-rested baby is a happy one, and a well-rested parent? A thrilled one! Good luck, mamas, and know that you are never alone. And when your neighbor tells you her children slept through the night from birth, just smile and nod, and know that you’re doing a wonderful job!