What is a Child Sleep Consultant?
A children’s sleep consultant (often referred to as a baby sleep specialist), is a certified professional who specialises in child and infant sleep. The sleep consultant will usually offer in-home or video call consultations where they will observe the child as a whole as well as going off to sleep in their usual environment to find out the root cause of the baby’s sleep issues. There will then be a plan created based specifically on the current issues and corrected by implementing a step by step personalised plan.
How a Child Sleep Consultant Can Help Parents and Children
If you’re wondering whether your current situation warrants a sleep consultant, then let’s look closely into common calls for assistance.
Frequent night wakings – If your little one is waking multiple times a night and is under 3 months of age then this is considered completely normal behaviour. If you are still waking to your 6 month old multiple times per night then this could be more habitual rather than hunger.
Catnapping – Daytime sleep, which is less than 40 minutes in duration. A typical sleep cycle (the process of drifting between light and deep sleep) for a baby can be as short as 20 minutes or as long as 50 minutes. Your baby may awaken when passing through one sleep cycle to the next and have a difficult time falling back to sleep, especially for a baby who doesn’t know how to fall asleep independently.
Early wake ups – Continuously starting the day at 4am can be a struggle especially when you need to get things done and cannot rest when your baby rests.
Baby/toddler sleeping in parents bed – This is very unsafe but sometimes turned to when your child completely refuses to sleep in their own bed. This is usually resorted to when everyone is extremely exhausted and just cannot go another sleepless night. Bed sharing is deemed unsafe and is associated with an increased risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).
Additionally, some parents like to just seek out support to establish healthy foundations for their children as they grow through each stage.
Benefits of Hiring a Child Sleep Consultant
It’s beneficial to have a sleep consultant come to your home and understand you and your baby’s unique situation because each household and child is different. You may have already recognised this if you have more than one child, as what worked for one doesn’t necessarily work for the next.
Through the sleep training process you can become more confident as a parent and feel you are able to read your child and understand their certain needs. You will become more relaxed and in return, your baby will sense this and therefore also become more relaxed.
Children thrive off routine, as do we. Creating a daily routine such as a Personalised plan will help your child feel more secure. Age appropriate awake times will enable your child to be put to bed at exactly the right time for them, helping them fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer and eliminating the battles of an overtired baby. In addition, sleep training now leads to improved learning, physical health, and emotional health in the future.
How to Choose the Right Child Sleep Consultant and What Questions to Ask
There are many people out there that will claim they can fix your child’s sleep issues. Be cautious and find out more about where they conducted their training and certifications.
A phone call should be made before any booking or payments. Ask questions like: What experience do they have? Have they dealt with your situation before? What type of sleep training approaches do they use and what your feelings are on the different types of approaches. You will want somebody that you can trust and who has your baby’s best interests in mind. Somebody who is warm, caring and responsive to your emotional needs.
Qualifications to Look For
The first thing you want to look for is a badge of completion for an accredited registered child sleep consultant program that is recognised world wide and is approved by a training provider and/or association. You can look for the badges on their website. Also worth looking for are the following:
- Does the sleep consultant hold a current working with children check?
- What do the reviews and testimonials say about the sleep consultant, and are they positive?
Approach to Sleep Training
When we say sleep training or night weaning it doesn’t necessarily mean your baby must stop feeding during the night and must sleep all night to be successfully sleep trained. It is about looking at why you have sought help in the first place, and then being educated on what is normal and what needs adjustment. Sleep training provides a baseline on what to expect for your child’s specific age and stage. Based on this information your sleep consultant should observe and create a plan based on the information gathered during the consultation and provide you with the best evidence based approach appropriate for your child.
• Communication and followup
Make sure you have more support than just the consultation and plan. Often once a plan is implemented there will still need to be adjustments made to it. As each child will respond differently, tweaking is all part of the process. And so a minimum of one week email or phone support should be provided upon implementing the plan.
• Cost and availability
The cost of hiring a sleep consultant will vary depending on their level of expertise and the duration of their service. Overnight support will be more expensive than a day visit and so is more common to have day consultations. It’s very common to have video consultations nowadays, as certain practitioners claim that it is just as effective.
Red Flags to Watch Out For
• Lack of certification or training
If a sleep consultant is not able to provide you with a certification badge or a training provider you may need to do more research to find someone with evidence of their accreditation.
You should always be in control of supporting your child through change and be able to voice your thoughts and feelings in what you do not feel comfortable with. You should not be told things like:
“If you don’t do what I say, I won’t work with you and you will receive no refund”.
“You are the reason why your baby doesn’t sleep”.
“Your baby will never be a good sleeper because you don’t listen”.
“We didn’t accomplish your goal because you didn’t follow my instructions properly”.
A sleep consultant that promises immediate results is misleading and untrue as teaching new skills takes time and consistency.
What to Expect During the Consultation and Sleep Training Process
During a consultation with a sleep consultant, you should expect a thorough observation and assessment of your child’s current sleep habits and environment. They should work on getting to know you and how you feel about the idea of sleep training, discussing important daily commitments and making a workable routine based on these commitments. They should also be providing instant support during the observational period.
The Plan – Once your consultant is satisfied with the information they have gathered during the consultation, they will create and send the plan to you via PDF, usually within the same day of consultation. Once you have received and read the plan it’s time to start.
Email/phone support – While you implement your child’s plan, your sleep consultant should provide you with some form of support for you to ask any questions that may pop up along the way. Based on your child’s response to the plan, slight tweaks may need to be made. It takes at least 3 days to start to see results.
Follow up – Once the support period is over, your sleep consultant should provide you with access to a follow up to discuss all the results of the plan and answer any last questions.
Some Final Thoughts:
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a sleep consultant is having a consolidated personalised plan from an experienced professional, that you can follow step by step and have access to support along the way. This will help you establish long-term, healthy, independent sleep habits for your little one, leading to better quality sleep for the entire family.
If you think your family would benefit from a sleep consultant, to help you set up good sleep habits for a lifetime of good quality sleep, then reach out to me for a free 15 min chat.