Using a sleep consultant is never an easy choice. I understand that I am often a last resort for many parents and picking up the phone to call me is not something they planned on having to do. On the other hand, there are many parents who want to be proactive and set their children up with good, healthy sleep habits from day one. Those parents then have to find the person who will work best with their families. Either way, when you are thinking about working with a sleep consultant there are many questions to consider.
Many people choose not to use a sleep consultant because they believe they will have to compromise their parenting skills to do so. If you find the consultant that is right for you that won’t be the case. Here are some common reasons that someone might not want to work with a sleep consultant:
- If I Sleep Train I Will Have To Stop Breastfeeding
Many people believe that sleep training means you will no longer breastfeed. The truth is, I have helped hundreds of mothers be able to nurse their babies much longer because I help them nurse better.
If your baby isn’t sleeping well, they probably are having smaller feeds which means they haven’t had enough to eat to sustain them through a long nap or through the night. Sleep professionals call this “snacking and snoozing” where a child eats a little and then only sleeps a little. By working on a good feeding and sleeping schedule that encourages your child to eat more and sleep longer you will have much more success with breastfeeding and be able to nurse your baby as long as you like.
- Sleep Training Will Hurt My Bond With My Baby
I think this may be the biggest misconception with sleep training. When sleep training is done in a loving and supportive way, it can actually be a great bonding experience with your child.
Children thrive in situations where there is consistency and structure. They really do take comfort in knowing what is coming next. Sleep training is very much about routines, structure and boundary setting, which babies really love.
- If I Put My Baby On A Schedule I Won’t Have Any Freedom
I hear many parents say they don’t want a strict schedule because they want to be flexible and not have to miss out on their activities. To these parents I say wouldn’t it be great to be able to plan fun events with your family and not have to deal with a cranky, sleepy baby?
Knowing that your child will go to bed at the same time each night and take naps at the same time each day can help plan your days and help guarantee a happy child. Skipping naps and keeping your child up too late leads to further sleep disturbances and then no one is enjoying time spent together.
- Sleep Training Means I will Have To Let My Baby “Cry It Out”
It is true that making changes to your child’s sleep will inevitably cause some protest on their part. Babies don’t like change. They like to know what is coming next and they like things to be the same every time (this is why babies like to hear the same song over and over). Babies need lots of transition time to feel comfortable with changes.
Just because you are considering sleep training doesn’t mean that you have to let your baby cry alone for hours on end without offering any comfort or support. In fact, all the sleep experts I know are completely against that method. I like to know as much as I can about each family I work with to ensure that I have provided a customized sleep program that solves their sleep problems but also makes parents feel comfortable.
You can read more here about my thoughts on “CIO”.
- If I Wait a Little Longer Things Will Get Better
Many parents don’t know that the opposite is more accurate. The longer you leave sleep issues unresolved the worse things can get. It isn’t uncommon for me to work with children 5, 6, even 7 years old that are still struggling with sleep issues they’ve had since they were babies.
Habits that are formed become harder to break as your child gets older. They also have many more ways of protesting these changes and it can take much longer for your child to adjust.
When school-age children haven’t resolved their sleep problems it can start to affect them in other, more serious ways. ADHD symptoms are very similar to those of sleep deprivation and a misdiagnosis can lead to children being medicated wrongfully and unnecessarily.
We all need sleep. Our babies, our children and us. Sleep nourishes our bodies in very important ways, just as food does. When we start to value our children’s sleep the way we value the healthy food that we feed them we will start to see much healthier, happier children.
Jillian is the founder of Sleep Wise Infant and Toddler Sleep Consulting and can be reached for a FREE 15 minute phone consultation at email@example.com
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