With all of the information that’s readily available online and the resources you have at your disposal in the form of friends and family who have managed to get their kids to sleep, why would you want to invite a stranger into your lives (or homes!) to get your child sleeping through the night?
While people may not phrase their questions this way, I know it’s a concern that a lot of parents have when they’re thinking about getting some professional help with their little ones’ sleep habits. And it’s a valid question! After all, your mother managed to get you to sleep at some point and your best friend might have four kids who are all champion sleepers. They surely should have some answers for you, right?
Well, yes! At least they might. But then again, they might not.
Occasionally I will have a client who knew they needed some professional sleep help right from the start, but most of the time my clients are parents who have already exhausted all the suggestions they’ve received from their immediate support system and the endless books, blogs, and social media posts, but still continue to struggle. The biggest reason why generic solutions fail or strategies that work for one parent may not work for another is simple: all babies are different.
Some babies rely heavily on specific sleep props. Others may need some schedule adjustments. Some may be overtired from not getting enough daytime sleep while others might struggling with reverse cycling. Some babies have developed an association between feeding and falling asleep whereas others need to be rocked to sleep. More often than not, sleep challenges are usually a combination of all these factors and more! Getting to the bottom of what specifically is causing your sleep challenges can be exhausting in itself, not to mention trying to conduct these controlled experiments when you’re in the throws of sleep deprivation!
Adding to the challenge is the fact that most solutions don’t work overnight. Parents often try a solution that could potentially help baby start sleeping through the night but end up abandoning it before it can take effect due to heavy protesting on baby’s part.
In short, sleep is a complicated issue and there’s very rarely one single thing that can remedy the situation overnight. While it may seem silly to hire a sleep consultant, sleep solutions are not “one-size-fits’-all”. What worked for your sister or your best friend may very well not work for you and your child. But that doesn’t mean you are stuck with a poor sleeper for life.
A professional sleep consultant has the experience and training to recognize which problems result in specific behaviors and can work with you to develop a personalized plan for your child that addresses those individual issues. A sleep coach can also provide some much-needed support when things don’t seem to be working and give you the encouragement you need to follow through on that plan until it starts to work.
When doing your research before hiring a sleep coach, my recommendation is to find one who is going to give your family the personalization you’re paying for. It’s not difficult to find sleep training methods and strategies on the internet these days, but a good sleep coach will go beyond what the books and blogs say to craft a plan specifically for your child, answer questions about every nuance that arises, ensure that you feel confident in handling your child’s unique sleep needs.
I liken the process to working with a personal trainer: It’s not that difficult to grab some dumbbells and watch a few YouTube videos in order to get in shape, so why pay someone to guide you along? It’s because they’re able to give you tangible, targeted advice based on education and experience, can help to keep you motivated, and know how to respond to the problems that might arise when it comes to your specific situation.
Of course, when it comes to your little ones’ sleep needs, I hope for everyone to find success on their own. But if that doesn’t happen for you, please know that there are resources out there to give you the answers and support you need to get everyone sleeping well again!