FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are you sure you can help me?
Yes! Well, I'm 95% sure. The majority of children have the usual, run-of-the-mill sleep troubles- and these I can help with! Occasionally, there will be a child with extreme sleep problems that can be traced back to a bigger issue- whether it be medical or psychological. Because I am not a medical professional, I do not take these cases on. (If your child has a common medical condition that has been diagnosed and is being successfully treated, and you've been given the OK by your pediatrician to work on improving sleep, that's a different story- we can most-likely still work together!)
What results can I expect?
As long as you, as the parents, can be consistent in implementing what we plan, you will absolutely see an improvement in sleep. How much of an improvement is partially dependent on the degree of sleep problems, and heavily dependent on your parenting style. Your determination for better sleep and a healthier lifestyle is necessary- if you allow your child's will to be stronger than yours, or if you are not fully committed to better sleep, you will not experience the maximum benefit of working with a sleep consultant. If you're truly ready and determined for sleep improvement, your results will be amazing and, quite possibly, life-changing. As with many things in life, you will get out of it what you put into it.
But, for a more tangible answer: you will get to sleep again. And have baby-free time again. And your baby will be happy. :)
What exactly is 'sleep training'?
We teach our children everything- they are born with no knowledge or understanding of the world. We teach them intentionally, with words of encouragement, hands-on lessons, by practicing skills… and we teach them unintentionally, with our actions, words, attitudes, behaviors, and reactions. This includes sleep! Because sleep is partially a learned skill, this means we are teaching our babies how to sleep, whether we are aware of it and doing it purposefully, or not. “Sleep training” is simply demonstrating sleep habits through attitudes, behaviors, and actions, both big things and small things, on a regular basis. Babies are capable of forming habits at about 4 months of age, so if your baby is younger than this, it's important to teach good habits from the start. If your child is older than this (and you're here reading this on my site), he has most likely formed bad habits that need to be corrected and overwritten with good habits (which is where the cultural understanding of "sleep training" comes into play- utilizing a particular method to correct these bad habits).
There are a variety of methods out there designed to teach healthy sleep habits- some common ones include the Sleep Lady Shuffle, Pick-Up/Put-Down, checks, cry-it-out....- but not all methods are created equally! Different methods are better for different sleep situations, and your baby's age, his personality, the severity of the sleep issue, your parenting style, your level of patience, and your expected results should all be taken into account when choosing a method.
How long does the process take?
I'd estimate about a week and a half to two weeks, on average- but I can't make any promises! It totally depends on the severity of your child's sleep problems and your parenting style, the method you choose, and your ability to be consistent and determined. With my older daughter, I used a more-firm method (because I had to correct bad habits) and she slept 12 straight at night within 5 days. With my second daughter, I used a more gentle approach at a younger age, and it took about three weeks for her to learn to fall asleep independently and only wake for a quick feeding at night. Then, with my second, the 9-month sleep regression hit, and I had to do a few days of "sleep training" again in order to get her back on track and to drop her final night feeding.
Theoretically, "sleep training" never really ends, because you must continue to enforce good habits each day and night. However, the process to correct bad habits and overwrite them with good can take anywhere between a week and three weeks, depending on a multitude of factors.
Will my baby cry?
Do I believe in allowing a baby to cry for no reason, endlessly? Absolutely not. As humans, and especially mothers, we are hard-wired to comfort our children, and that's a great thing! HOWEVER, it's important for you to have realistic expectations regarding crying. First of all, there's a difference between grunting, groaning, even fussing, and crying. It's always a great idea to give your baby a minute or two to attempt to settle himself. Often times, your baby may still be asleep while making these kinds of noises, and the last thing you'd want to do is rush over and wake him up! Grunting, groaning, and fussing are all okay- full-out crying is what we're talking about here. Once habits have formed (which happens around 4 months), any changes to the routine may be met with resistance and protest, and the way a baby protests and shows his annoyance at these changes is by crying (referred to as "protest crying"). Just the way you may protest a change to your own schedule, babies do have opinions and like to tell you all about them! Unfortunately, depending on your child's age, he's not able to use his words as an adult would, and the only tool he has to express himself is crying. Protest crying is completely normal and to be expected, to a certain degree. There will always be a strategy behind what we are doing during the training process, and we will discuss the possibility and extent of protest crying. Different corrective sleep training methods allow for varying amounts of this protest crying before intervening, and we will go over all this as a part of working together to choose a method you're comfortable with.
Again, depending on your baby's age, it is generally unrealistic to expect not one single tear... but that does not mean your baby is being harmed in any way! Research has shown that limited, strategical protest crying will not endanger your child physically, mentally, emotionally, or developmentally, when managed correctly! This is not arbitrary, endless crying! You can be confident that you are doing what is best overall for your baby by instilling good, healthy sleep habits and getting the rest you both desperately need.
Can I still breastfeed?
Absolutely! Your plan will always be breastfeeding-friendly.
Why doesn't everyone sleep train if it's so necessary?
To be quite honest, I think it's a combination of being misinformed about the health and science of infant sleep, being a part of a culture that wears sleep deprivation as a badge of honor, and being short-sighted by choosing convenience now over longer-term health and benefits. (Please don’t be offended by that last one- I’ve been there too! It takes a heavy dose of sheer willpower to work on sleep stuff when you have no energy and are mentally and physically exhausted! That’s why I say you must be determined for better sleep- and maybe this means being at your wits’ end- in order to be successful in sleep training.) There are common misconceptions as well about what "sleep training" entails (like, all it is is leaving your baby to cry alone for hours), that I think are huge barriers to parents proactively working towards better sleep- which I hope to change client-by-client.
Better- even good- sleep is attainable for every family!
I feel silly hiring someone... shouldn't I be able to 'sleep train' on my own?
You totally can- that's how I did it with my girls! But it does take time. A lot of time. And patience, and an interest. Just like most hands-on things in life, the more quality results you want, the more quality work you will have to put in. And, to be honest, I think it also takes a knack for truly understanding the array of sleep troubles. There are a lot of factors at play when analyzing, troubleshooting, and solving your baby's sleep problems, so it takes a really solid and broad understanding of the big picture of infant sleep, and a talent for being able to isolate and adjust tiny details, and put it all together, for maximum results. I've already put in the time it takes to read tons of different sleep books, analyze and develop solutions for an array of different sleep troubles at different ages, and work through a certification program- so cut right to the chase and let me help you! You'll get my years of experience, and a baby whose sleep has improved greatly within a matter of weeks (maybe even days, but I can't promise that quite yet, without knowing your unique situation!).
What is your method and why should I choose to work with you, specifically?
Through years of experience and research, and true interest and found-passion, I have waded through all the sleep advice out there in our cultural world and have pinpointed the top factors that, when achieved, consistently bring quality sleep to your babe. My method is to empower you, the parents, to take control over the sleep state in your home, by teaching you a basic, logical understanding of infant sleep, and coaching you through the process of correcting any bad habits and laying a foundation for healthy sleep. My goal is for you to be able to take what you learn from me and navigate your way through any future regressions, illnesses, travels, life-changes, etc on your own.
I believe in lovingly, but firmly, setting healthy boundaries for our children- boundaries create a sense of security, trust, confidence, and love in our kids and in their understanding of our world. This applies to sleep as well, in my opinion. While love and gentleness should always be the base of our actions, consistency in establishing these healthy boundaries is important. This is why we discuss the plan in detail, because I never want to ask you to do something with your child you feel uncomfortable with. For this reason, I do not recommend cry-it-out. While I do find merit in that method in few, extreme cases when done correctly, it seems to be handled incorrectly and inappropriately more often than not, and many families are not comfortable with it. We will discuss your child's sleep troubles and your preferences in detail, and will come up with a plan utilizing a method you are comfortable implementing.
What's expected of me, if I decide to hire you?
Because I am not there raising your child, you must be an active participant in this process! While I will teach you, guide you, hold your hand and support you through it, you, as the parents and primary caregivers, will be implementing and living out these changes! Above all, I- and your baby- need you to be consistent. During the assessment, we will talk about your parenting styles and what you are and are not comfortable with, so I will come up with a plan that we both agree you are comfortable and capable with following. Then, it is up to you to actively do so, and to do so consistently, while I am available for support and questions.
Do you offer any sort of money-back guarantee?
I do not offer this across the board, but I am definitely open to discussing it on a case-by-case basis. As I've said above, your results are so dependent on your determination and consistency, and, while money is not my main motivator, I do put a lot of time and effort and love into this. If the need arises, I'd ask that we can both be respectful of each other's time and efforts, and I'm sure we can come to an agreement we are both happy with.
Why do you care so much about sleep?
I have a heart for families, parenting, and marriage- and I've seen what a dramatic effect sleep can have on a family dynamic. Before having kids, it's typically assumed sleep will take a hit once a baby comes along, but I don't think you can really know until you're in it. The quality of sleep we- as parents, spouses, employees, friends, basic-functioning human beings- get on a daily basis permeates every aspect of our lives. Sleep deprivation causes lack of focus, decreased attention, lower energy, slower reaction times, impaired memory, unclear thinking... not to mention the more emotional effects like a lack of patience for your spouse or your children, decreased joy, increased stress, and an overall sense of just not being at your best self. Our children, and all of our loved ones, deserve better versions of us than that! I personally have never felt so depressed, lonely, and hopeless than I did in the first few months after having our first child. While there were other factors contributing to that as well (helloooo, post-partum depression), the sleep deprivation was a major aspect for me. Until I took control of it, and slowly got back to being me. The whole experience of having our first child was, honestly, terrible in those first few months- and thinking about that makes me truly sad. What should have been the most wonderful season of my life was, instead, the worst, and I wouldn't wish how I felt on anyone. I hate to think of other families suffering in a similar way- sleep is something you can take control of, and it can be, literally, life-changing.
From the perspective of infant sleep: your baby is born completely reliant on you for providing his most basic human needs: food, care, and sleep. Yes, you must provide sleep for your child! Good sleep habits are a learned skill, that must be taught at as young of an age as possible! While you obviously cannot force your child to sleep, you absolutely can proactively learn a bit about what sleep should look like for your baby, and provide him the opportunities to sleep as he needs to (and there is definitely a strategy to this). Imagine a time you've felt can-hardly-function exhausted... that's the same way your baby feels when he is chronically overtired- which is one of the main root causes of most sleep troubles! I know I've melted down a time or two when I'm overtired and over-stimulated, so I hate the thought of a tiny baby feeling that way on a daily basis! Adequate, quality sleep can make a world of difference for your baby; why stick with the status quo of a crying baby and exhausted parents? There's no need to- you can absolutely improve sleep for your whole family!
A few more facts about sleep:
Sleep is crucial to our body’s functionality and health state
Research has shown negative effects of poor sleep, both in the short-term and the long-term
Children do not tend to simply “grow out of” poor sleep as they get older; most often, sleep habits formed during infancy naturally continue into toddler-hood if there is no intervention done to improve sleep habits
Our bodies (including during infancy!) do so much while we are asleep- growth hormones are produced, energy is restored, physical stresses are healed, information is processed, and memories are recorded… if quality sleep is compromised, these crucial functionalities are being impaired
Sleep should not be treated simply as a luxury or something of little relevance; it's okay (and even good!) to value and prioritize good sleep!