Have you ever wondered what sleep training is and how a sleep consultant can help you and your family get the rest you need? Keep reading to find out!
It’s 9 p.m. and you finally got your six-month-old down for the night after rocking her for almost an hour.
You load the dishwasher, pour a glass of wine, and settle down to watch Netflix with your husband, but as soon as you hit “play” you hear the familiar sound of your daughter crying on the baby monitor.
“Not again,” you think as the anxiety and frustration creeps in.
This has been your nightly routine for months: You put your baby down asleep, and about 45 minutes later she’s crying. She only stays asleep in her swing or your arms.
You’re exhausted, confused, overwhelmed, and possibly depressed. And to top it all off, everyone–from your mother-in-law to the lady standing behind you in the Target line–has an opinion about it. You’re not sure what to do or who to trust.
Will you ever enjoy a movie night again? Will you ever get a good night’s sleep??
Mama, I promise you it gets better. But you might need a little help to get there.
Keep reading to learn:
- Why sleep is vital for the whole family
- The basics of sleep training
- What sleep consultants do
- Why you should consider working with me instead of buying that popular, cookie-cutter sleep course.
Sleep and Your Child
First, you should know there is nothing wrong with your baby or toddler if he or she isn’t a “good” sleeper.
Every child learns how to sleep independently at their own pace, and some infants and toddlers need a little more coaching than others.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends infants from 4 to 12 months get 12-16 hours of sleep within a 24 hour period. (This includes naps.)
Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2 should get between 11 and 14 hours of sleep. (This also includes naps.)
But why is sleep important? Keep reading to find out.
Healthy Sleep, Healthy Child
The adage is true: sleep begets sleep. In other words, a well-rested baby is more likely to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply at night.
Why? Because overtired babies and toddlers produce more Cortisol–a stress hormone that fires up their fight or flight response and keeps them alert and awake.
So even though your little one is downright worn out, she’ll have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep when she’s overtired. Not only that, but she’s likely to be fussier and more difficult to calm.
Teaching your child healthy sleep habits at a young age is important, because, according to a 2017 study published by the AAP, sleep problems in children are associated with poor behavior and school performance as well as obesity.
The same study cites a quarter of children under the age of 5 don’t get enough sleep.
What’s worse, parents often don’t know who to turn to for help.
“It has been shown that pediatricians do not adequately address sleep in routine well-child visits, and under-diagnose sleep issues,” the same study reported. “Pediatricians receive little formal training in medical school or in residency regarding sleep medicine.”
Better Sleep, Happier Parents
Caregivers need adequate sleep for all the same reasons and then some.
The CDC reported in 2016 that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep, and this is a big deal, because, according to this health.gov article, adults who get enough sleep (at least seven hours each night) …
- Get sick less often
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Have lower risks for serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease
- Are less stressed-out
- Think more clearly
- Get along better with others
- Make better decisions and avoid injuries
Bottom line? It’s not selfish to want better sleep for your little one and yourself.
What is Sleep Training?
Simply put, Sleep Training is the process of teaching your little one how to sleep through the night and take consistent naps without the use of sleep crutches. Examples of common sleep crutches include:
- Needing a pacifier to fall asleep
- Needing a swing or Rock ‘n’ Play to fall asleep
- Being fed, held, or rocked to sleep
- Being walked or bounced to sleep
- Co-sleeping or needing mom or dad in the room to fall asleep
Oftentimes, parents assume sleep training only consists of the “cry it out” method, but there are several other, more gradual methods that often work just as well–if not better– than the extinction method.
As a sleep consultant, I often get asked: “Will my child have to cry it out?” And my answer is always “No!” I work with families to create unique sleep plans that fit the needs of the parents and the child.
I will never insist you do anything you’re not comfortable with.
Is Sleep Training Right For Your Family?
First, know that if you are happy with your baby or toddler’s sleep habits, that’s great! You should never feel pressured or obligated to sleep train your child by anyone–including friends, family members, the internet, or even sleep consultants like me!
That said, you should consider sleep training if you feel your child’s sleep habits:
- Interfere with your ability to consistently get a good night’s rest
- Impact your mental health
- Impact your relationships with your spouse, friends, and/or other family members
- Disrupt routines and time spent with your older children
I usually recommend families hold off on sleep training until their infants are at least 16 weeks of age (adjusted).
Is Sleep Training Safe?
Yes! Several studies (such as this one) indicate that sleep training is a safe way to teach your child how to fall asleep – and stay asleep – independently.
What is a Sleep Consultant?
A sleep consultant is a person who teaches you how to sleep train your child through advice, education, and support during the sleep training process.
Typically (and preferably) this person has received training and certifications from an accredited organization such as the Family Sleep Institute.
During their certifications, sleep consultants learn about a variety of science-based sleep topics, including:
- How to establish healthy sleep habits
- Sleep milestones, including stages and transitions
- Safe sleep
- How to work with breastfeeding mothers
- Common sleep challenges and solutions
- Child development
- How to help twins with sleep challenges
- How to work with families of children with special needs
- Medical conditions that affect sleep
- And more
While the exact number of pediatric sleep consultants is unknown, The Family Sleep Institute has certified more than 500 pediatric sleep consultants since its founding in 2011, which proves this is a needed and valuable service!
What You Should Know About Me
Sleep has always been a huge priority for me, even before I had my daughter, Emma, in 2015.
Throughout my pregnancy, I heard horror stories from well-meaning parents who told me a good night’s rest would soon be a thing of the past.
“Better sleep now while you can!” they’d joke. Little did they know this would soon become a huge source of anxiety for me.
In an effort to save my future self from endless months of sleep deprivation, I read literally every baby sleep book available to me. I learned about routines, sleep training methods, and common challenges.
And what do you know? It worked! I set my daughter up for success, and she was a fantastic sleeper.
Does that mean we didn’t face our share of challenges? Of course not! But those tools made overcoming those challenges a lot easier.
The best part? Once we had a predictable routine, I was able to enjoy my daughter’s infancy.
Needless to say, I believe sleep is just as important for parents as it is for their baby. My heart breaks for moms who tell me they don’t enjoy motherhood or feel depressed because they’re both mentally and physically exhausted.
That’s why I obtained my pediatric sleep consultant certification from QC Career School. I want to help families finally get the restorative sleep they not only need–but deserve.
What Makes Me Different from Other Sleep Consultants?
Unlike many sleep coaches, I prioritize connection and work personally with families every step of the way.
Not only do I create custom sleep plans, but I also offer Live Coaching. This means I’m 100 percent available–either virtually or in-person–to support you and your child on your sleep training journey.
In other words, I don’t just hand you a sleep plan and leave. I work alongside you and your family to ensure you meet your goals.
Calista – A Case Study
Calista’s daughter refused to sleep anywhere but her mom’s arms–even at night.
“I was getting very little sleep, which made our co-sleeping arrangement even more dangerous than it already was and only worsened the difficult emotions that often come during the postpartum period,” she said. I was so desperate to get some rest.”
Calista tried everything–including several popular sleep training courses–with no luck.
“These courses offered a helpful framework with which to work, but when you’re sleep-deprived and none of the baby-sleep tips and tricks are working, it’s defeating, distressing, and exhausting,” she said.
Calista eventually reached out to me. I asked her a series of questions to help me understand her unique challenges and frustrations before creating a customized, detailed sleep plan.
Then, through Live Coaching, I walked Calista through an afternoon nap, feedings, a bedtime routine, and putting her daughter down for the night in her crib.
“When things didn’t go smoothly, Kirstin would quickly adjust and provide next steps,” Calista said. “And let me tell you, when you’re an unsure and sleep-deprived mom, all you want and need is Live Coaching.”
After one afternoon and a full night of Live Coaching, Calista’s daughter was on a schedule. And, after implementing the schedule for a few days (with continued check-ins and coaching) she was finally on the right track and getting more sleep.
“I recommend Kristin to all of my mom-friends, and I plan to solicit her help when I have my next child,” Calista said. “She saved my sanity.”
Sleep Training: A Refresher
As a refresher, here’s what you should know about pediatric sleep, sleep training, and why hiring me just might save your sanity, too.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends infants from 4 to 12 months get 12-16 hours of sleep within a 24 hour period. Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2 should get between 11 and 14 hours of sleep. (These guidelines include naps.)
- According to a 2017 study published by the AAP, sleep problems are associated with poor behavior and school performance as well as obesity. The same study cites that a quarter of children under the age of 5 don’t get enough sleep.
- Sleep Training is the process of teaching your little one how to sleep through the night and take consistent naps without the use of sleep crutches such as being rocked or fed to sleep.
- Sleep training is safe.
- A sleep consultant is a person who teaches you how to sleep train your child through advice, education, and support during the sleep training process. Typically (and preferably) this person has received training and certifications from an accredited organization such as the Family Sleep Institute.
- Unlike many sleep consultants, I don’t just hand you a sleep plan and leave. I work alongside you and your family to ensure you meet your goals.
I believe a well-rested family is a happier and healthier family. Mom, a good night’s rest is only a phone call away.