Should you hire the services of a baby sleep consultant? We look into what they offer, the reasons why you may consider doing so and some of the sleep training methods they use.
Way back in the olden days, there was no such thing as a baby sleep consultant; or was there? Older women have helped younger generations with all aspects of motherhood. It was a known fact that babies had difficulties sleeping, and numerous sleeping methods were used and recommended.
What has changed though, is our society. New Mums are often without the support of nearby family, and many choose to or must return to work within the first few months after their baby’s birth. The amount of stress both of these situations cause is significant for the entire family.
While the Plunket nurse and Plunket Healthline are available for support, it’s not the same as having someone in your home helping you. Enter the baby sleep consultants. Experts in the areas of baby development and sleep, many trained professionals have begun to offer these paid services. The question is though, should you hire one?
What is a Baby Sleep Consultant?
A baby sleep consultant is an expert in the area of child development, and specifically sleep. Within NZ, there are many businesses which offer the services of one, including our recommended Baby Sleep Consultant. Many offer in home visits, phone call, video or email support, with the new parents choosing the most suitable option for them.
A session or package with a baby sleep whisperer could include:
- An assessment of what your baby is currently doing sleep-wise
- Looking at the methods you are using at home
- Hands-on demonstrations of settling techniques
- Emotional support
- A tailored sleep training plan
- Follow up support
- Help with sleep regressions and transitions
- Support on sleeping issues such as early rising, sleep resistance and naps
- Managing colic and reflux issues that interfere with sleep
- Soothing an upset baby
But are their services right for you and your family?
Reasons Why Hiring a Baby Sleep Consultant is a Good Idea
There are many reasons why you should consider hiring a baby sleep consultant, and we’ll cover those shortly. But first, let’s face the purple elephant in the room: money. It can cost several hundreds of dollars to use a consultant’s services, depending on the level of support you require. If you can afford it though, the reasons why you may consider using their services include:
- Sleep deprivation – if you or others in your family are suffering from the effects of poor sleep, seeking help in developing good sleep habits is invaluable!
- Save time – if you don’t want to spend hours, days and weeks researching all of the sleep training methods, then it’s a no-brainer.
- Save money – yes it will cost you money to hire a consultant. However, you receive personalised support meaning you get things right the first time, rather than trying (and paying for) 20 other things!
- Happier family – having a new baby in the home is a huge adjustment for everyone. Why not make things run smoother by inviting an expert into your home to help you with the things you are struggling with?
- Rough start – not every new Mum gets the level of support she needs, and not every birth runs to plan. If your baby has colic, reflux or any other sleep disturbing condition, general and nonspecific advice may not be available. Using a baby sleep coach’s services though, gives you a tailored experience and techniques which will suit you and your baby’s needs.
Infant and child sleep consultants use a variety of tools and techniques to help their clients. Let’s cover those now.
Sleep Training Techniques Used by Baby Sleep Consultants
You’ve most likely heard of the sleep training technique which requires that your baby ‘cries it out.’ This has its traditions way back in years ago, when the official advice was that a mother should leave her baby to cry and settle on its own.
Understandably, many parents hate this idea with a passion! They therefore avoid using a sleep consultant because they fear this will be what they’ll be expected to do with their child. While this sleep training technique can work with babies with considerably ingrained sleep problems, it is not the only way! Here are four of the most common methods a baby sleep coach may recommend using:
- No cry sleep training –also known as the fading sleep method, you help your baby to sleep by rocking or feeding to sleep. Overtime though, you do these things less each time, requiring your baby to do more of the work.
- Ferber method – also known as controlled crying, this sleep training method requires you to pick your baby up when they are crying in their crib. You then cuddle your baby until he is drowsy and put back into the crib again.
- Chair method – you put a chair by your baby’s bed and sit next to them once you have put them to bed. You avoid giving them any attention and overtime, move the chair further away from their crib and out the door.
- Extinction – once your baby is tucked in, you effectively let them cry it out until they are so tired, they go to sleep. This is the main method used by the Mothercraft unit at Waikato Hospital, and it does work.
The method or combination of methods will be chosen by you and your sleep consultant together. There’s no one size fits all babies and often parts of one method are combined with another. If you would like more advice on these, we recommend contacting the Baby Sleep Consultant personally.
Points to Remember About Babies and Sleep
We just thought we’d take a moment to talk about some common misconceptions or beliefs about sleep and baby sleep coaches:
- Sleeping through the night doesn’t always happen – in fact, most babies will wake throughout the night. Its just that some will resettle themselves if a feed is not necessary.
- Consultants don’t need to stay overnight – some parents request the reassurance of having someone with them overnight. But for many, they are happy to put into practise the strategies they have learn by themselves.
- Newborns shouldn’t have sleep training – a newborn is just learning about the world, including feeding and sleeping. Sleep training isn’t suitable to at least four months old, though your consultant can still help with settling and calming techniques, as well as routine developing.
- Sleep training does not mean leaving your baby to cry forever – it is just one of the possible methods you can use.
- Sleep aids are incredibly useful – from our famous Sleepytots, through to white noise machines and Lulla Dolls, all help baby to settle independently.
If you are on the fence, why not join our parents Facebook group and ask others about their experiences with a baby sleep coach. For more sleep advice, be sure to also check out our ever growing collection ofhelpful parenting articles too!