The decision I made to hire a sleep consultant to help with my (then) eight month old baby’s sleep was one of the best things I ever did. Not only did life for our family quite literally transform within days, but what I learnt also sparked a new passion in me and ultimately led me to train as a sleep consultant myself.
“I couldn’t do that to my baby”
Sleep is often a favourite topic of conversation for new mums, so it wasn’t long before our decision to hire a sleep consultant came up in conversation. Some mums I knew had also hired sleep consultants, and we compared our experiences. Others were openly shocked and disapproving. One comment that sticks in my mind was from a friend of a friend whose response was, “oh, I couldn’t do that to my baby”.
I have often reflected on that comment and in a roundabout way it is what has led me to train as a holistic sleep coach myself. I want to challenge the notion that families who are facing sleep challenges need to either:
- suffer indefinitely until the child’s sleep magically sorts itself out, months of years down the line: or
- adopt harsh sleep training methods that involve lots of crying alone, stress and potentially damage to the parent/child bond.
The truth is, we didn’t “do” anything to our baby. We didn’t force her into a rigid routine but were taught some simple methods and changes which helped us read her cues and support her in achieving more settled sleep. She coped well with the changes we introduced over time and as a family we have never looked back.
A misunderstood profession
I now realise that the comment that spurred me on into this profession was borne out of a misunderstanding about what competent sleep consultants do. It is well known that traditional sleep training methods may involve controlled crying or cry it out, for example. But arguably, if you are content to leave your baby to cry, you may not need a sleep consultant at all. In our position we hired a professional precisely because we wanted to avoid those methods.
If I am challenged on sleep consulting now I take from this that the person has misunderstood the profession. I take the opportunity to explain a bit more about what good quality sleep consulting might look like and the compelling reasons why parents may hire a sleep coach.
Sleep support should be judgement free
If you are struggling with your child’s sleep, please don’t feel that you have anything to be ashamed of, or that harsh sleep training methods are your only option. With the right sleep consultant, it is possible to make changes to your child’s sleep whilst at the same time maintaining a gentle, attachment focused and responsive parenting style.
StarBright Sleep will start offering sleep consultancy services in early 2020. Follow us @starbrightsleep on Instagram for more information and introductory offers.