When I brought my new baby home from the hospital, I didn’t expect him to sleep through the night. But I also thought he’d, ya know, fall asleep in his bassinet and sleep for, well…at least a little while.
The reality? Every time we’d place him in his bassinet, he’d cry.
I was convinced he just didn’t like it, so we bought the baby store out of “bed-like contraptions” on a mission to find the thing he preferred. In the meantime, we went through two months of him mostly sleeping on me, my mom, or my husband. Eventually, he started sleeping in that darn bassinet (parenting win!), sometimes even a few hours at a time. Then, around the four-month mark, our lucky streak ended and we wound up cosleeping out of desperation. He was waking up every 45 minutes to nurse just long enough to put himself back to sleep. We were both exhausted. Something had to change.
When my mom suggested I check out a sleep consultant, I was honestly put off. My mama ego was strong. I just kept thinking, “Mothers have been getting their babies to sleep for thousands of years, and I can totally do this.”
Wow, was that ridiculous! Moms today live in a completely different reality. Parents live on their own, often states away from family, and are managing raising a newborn while working full-time jobs and juggling the many other demands of life in the 21st century. It’s okay to ask for help!
Fast-forward another (sleepless) month or so, and I met a real-life sleep consultant. She was also a yoga teacher—credibility in my book. I waltzed into her mama-baby yoga class and left with her business card. I stuck it in my wallet and might have forgotten about it, if I wasn’t still up in the middle of the night. Every. Single. Night. Finally, in desperation, I reached out.
Literally overnight, my life changed.
On night three of working together, my son slept 11 hours straight and hasn’t looked back. I was in awe of her support, my ability to teach my son to sleep, and my son’s ability to learn this skill so quickly. I became utterly passionate about all things sleep, and began my own journey to become a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant myself. Today, my family is healthier and happier (because we’re all sleeping!), and I found my true calling to help other families restore peace, sleep, and harmony in their lives as well.
As a mom, I’m here to say that investing in a sleep consultant is the best parenting decision I’ve made so far. Here are five reasons why:
1. Your life will improve dramatically.
If you are struggling with sleep in your home, your work is compromised, your relationships are stressed, you’re feeling like a terrible human and a worse mom, you worry that your child isn’t developing properly, you get sick more often, your never ending to-do list at home sees no progress. These are all things that have brought families to me for support. Yet, I have clients who fear that their life will be too confined if they work with me. “Won’t a strict schedule mean I won’t have a life anymore?” they ask. I’m here to tell you that the opposite is true. When your child is on a predictable sleep schedule, freedom will be yours. You will know exactly when and where your child will sleep. No more missing parties because your child threw a two hour tantrum at bedtime and you couldn’t leave them with a babysitter. No more having to cancel your lunch date because your kid’s nap schedule is off today. No more skipping your morning workout because your child had you awake six times last night. No more of being too drained for your job, intimacy with your partner, house projects, or playdates with your kids. While it is true that your child will want to sleep at the designated time, I find that it allows you to plan your life with ease. And you know what? Once you’ve got a great sleeper, it doesn’t mean you can’t take the occasional nap on the go! Your child will be much more resilient when it comes to sleep once they have learned solid independent sleep skills.
2. All of the guesswork will be taken out of it.
I remember asking myself, “Is it time for his nap? Am I comforting him too much? Not enough? Did I feed him at the right time? What if I screw up the sleep plan?” But the great thing was, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. Personally, I think this was the most valuable aspect of working with a consultant. They will monitor your progress and recommend changes when needed, tweak the schedule if something’s off, celebrate your successes, answer ALL of your questions, reassure you that you are doing great, and get you back on track if you start to stray. If you’re working with a good consultant and you listen to them and are honest with them, it really is fail proof. Isn’t that a relief?
3. You will have empathy from someone who has been there.
Almost all sleep consultants I’ve met are moms who have been there. They’ve experienced their own sleepless nights and frustrations at why they can’t get their infant, toddler, or even school-aged child to sleep. They’ve often tried many things on their own…reading books and blogs that didn’t work, and then created their own story like mine of working with another sleep consultant. It’s such a profound, life altering, empowering experience that most of us have come out of the trenches rebirthed. So when you hop on the phone to discuss your child’s sleep progress and are crying because of a hard nap or so elated that your child just slept through the night for the first time in their life, they’ll actually honestly get it. Empathy is a powerful tool.
4. Crying – the elephant in the room.
Crying. It’s the number one question I get as a sleep consultant and was my biggest fear as a mama starting this journey with my own son. As parents, we are hard-wired to be triggered by our children crying. No one likes to hear their baby cry. And almost everyone thinks that the only way to teach your child healthy sleep skills is by going down the path of cry-it-out. While that is one sleep training method, it is not the only. There are gentle methods, like the ones I use with my clients. This doesn’t mean your baby won’t cry during the process. Crying is a completely natural response for a baby who is confused or frustrated that you are making changes to their sleep habits. And trust me, if there was a way to do this with zero tears, that’s what I’d be doing. But when you work with a consultant, you will get through the process faster and with less stress and tears. They will talk you off the ledge when your emotions get the best of you. I know that without a doubt I wouldn’t have been as successful as I was with my son’s sleep if I didn’t have a consultant to talk to me openly about my fear of my child crying.
5. You will become a sleep expert.
A sleep consultant’s most important job is to educate parents on sleep in general, the sleep needs of your child, and how to repair broken sleep and handle future hurdles. When I started working with a consultant, I realized quickly that I really knew nothing about sleep, especially the sleep of infants. From sleep stages and cycles, to how much sleep my baby should be getting for optimal growth and development, to what a sleep prop is and how to address them. I was so grateful for the knowledge, it was a game changer in my role as a parent. There was no way my sleep deprived brain was going to process and comprehend a sleep training book and then stick to it, but I was still able to become a confident sleep teacher for my son in a short amount of time. And not only will you know how to solve your current problem, but you will be equipped with the information you need to keep your child on track long into their future, because we all know life happens…. developmental milestones, travel, teething, and illness are all things that can disrupt sleep. But after working a sleep consultant, you’ll feel confident you can manage any curveballs life throws you.
As I prepare to welcome my second baby into the world, I am so much more confident that I will be able to help our family stay as healthy and rested as possible during this miraculous transition. And hiring a sleep consultant is 100% one of the best parenting decisions (if not THE best) parenting decision I’ve made.