Why We Hired A Sleep Consultant

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I briefly mentioned in a few facebook and instagram posts over that past month about hiring a sleep consultant and have gotten lots of questions. So I figured I’d take a minute to explain. (clearly, as you can see in the photo Elena thinks it was a great idea)

I am firm believer in asking for professional help when you need it. I hire an accountant to do my taxes because all the numbers and forms overwhelm me. I have seen a counselor at various seasons of my life when I needed help processing and working through tough stuff. So I figured why not pay a sleep consultant when I realized I was spending more time working to get Elena to sleep, then she was actually sleeping?

I reached a point where I was stuck. Baby sleep felt confusing and stressful and what I was doing wasn’t working, so I asked for help.

{Let me give you a little disclaimer:  I don’t claim to know a lot about baby sleep nor do I think there is one right way to get babies to sleep. I write this only to share what’s been working for us and if you’re in the middle of baby sleep woes know that you’re not along. And if baby sleep means nothing in your world right now, you can just skip over this whole post. }

So a little background:

Elena has never been a great sleeper. Or maybe better stated she has never been a great sleeper when sleeping alone. Since day 1 she has really only slept well while being carried or bounced or in someone’s arms. She slept well while nursing to sleep. And she slept really well while being curled up next to me. So like most new moms, I did whatever worked. And to be be honest it worked well for about 3 months. I was on maternity leave and getting rest, she was sleeping 7-8 hours through the night and we were all pretty happy. We didn’t have a nursery or a crib at that point so she napped on the bed and slept next to me at night.

Then right around month 3 or 4 something changed. Call it the 4-month sleep regression or growth spurt or whatever. But getting her to sleep became my full-time job. And then she’d wake up every 45 minutes. And we’d start the process all over again. There were literally days that I would spent 5-6 hours of my day holding her in the rocking chair. I wrote this post which gave you just a little insight into our days. I started to feel like what I was doing was not sustainable, for me, or for her or for our family.

After reading this book: The Sleepeasy Solution, recommended by a good friend of mine and on Cup of Jo’s blog, I felt ready to try sleep training. Elena had just turned 5 months old. In short, it went horribly. Looking back I think it was too much too soon. We were trying to transition her from our bed, to a new room, to a new crib, etc. We found out we had a quite a persistent little girl. And she didn’t just cry, she screamed. I was trying to so hard to “follow the book” but I felt stuck whenever she woke up before the “set” feeding time or cried longer than the book said. She wasn’t the baby in the book.

After three days, I threw in the towel. Something wasn’t working. I went back to nursing her to sleep and holding her for all of her naps. Our evenings were stressful. Gerber and I would eat in shifts, taking turns rocking and maybe get in a 10 min conversation.

Then in December I found Nicole and the Baby Sleep Site. And I gave myself a Christmas gift of a sleep consultant. Best $90 I’ve ever spent.

Right away what I appreciated about Nicole and her team is her philosophy- she says “nothing’s a problem, until it’s a problem.” So you wanna nurse your baby to sleep? Go ahead. You wanna drive your little one around the block to nap, sure thing. You wanna co-sleep and snuggle, go for it. And when you want help changing some of those habits they’ll help you.

So I spent one evening filling out a detailed sleep history form on Elena, her temperament, our parenting philosophy and what were our short term and long term goals. Then I emailed it in to the company and a few days later I received a personalized sleep plan and was assigned a sleep consultant who was available to ask questions along the way, follow up on new situations that arise and be a resource once we started.

And we decided that since Gerber can’t stand to hear Elena cry, he could best support me by not being in the house when we started. So we started one of the weeks he was gone.

Here’s what I appreciated most:

-They gave me a step by step plan based on what we had tried and what they knew of my sweet girl and they offered support along the way when what they suggested didn’t work (this was HUGE for me).

-They talked about how important consistency was, and yet they acknowledge that YOU as the mom or parent know your baby best and sometimes you or the baby may will have an off day or night. And it’s not a reason to get discouraged.

–They celebrate small successes, and acknowledge that all babies and kids “learn how to sleep” in different ways.

– There are tons of FREE resources on their website and her newsletters have lots info about baby sleep patterns, pacifiers, traveling with babies, nap-time vs nighttime sleep, etc. All things I knew very little about.

-They take into account your baby’s temperament and your parenting style and preferences. They offer a gentle approach or a more traditional cry-it-out or a combination.

-It was like having a supportive friend right there next to you saying, “you’re doing a good thing. You’re teaching your baby how to sleep. You’re not a horrible mom.” And I needed to hear this, because there were many nights I thought, ahh I can’t do it.

So, where are we are now:

-It’s been about 5 weeks since we started sleep training. Granted we probably had an extra challenge, given that our little girl had never slept the whole night in her crib before and had never, ever fallen asleep on her own. And she’s quite particular and persistent. So we had a long road ahead of us.

-The first few weeks were the hardest, but we were consistent. And they got progressively better. We did baby steps: At first we just focused on her falling asleep by herself, then any wake-up after that I nursed and held her like I always did. After a week or so, we started letting her sooth herself back to sleep and only went in at the set feeding time.

-Elena now goes to sleep EVERY night by herself in her crib! It still amazes me, because there were weeks and days where I imagined myself rocking and holding my 8-year old child to sleep. So this has part has gone great!

-If she wakes up around 8pm or 9pm and cries she usually will go right back to sleep. Again, huge improvement!

-There were about 2-3 nights she slept through the whole night! And I was ecstatic. But then she started teething and I wanted to be able to nurse her at night so she’s been waking up 1-2 times at night again. But I trust we can get back on a good schedule.

-She still wakes up super early…(like 5am early) and is not one of those babies that will play happily in her crib. So we’ll keep working on this little by little.

-She still naps while being held by me or our sitter. However, since she’s learned to sleep better at night she has also started learning to fall asleep in her carseat and stroller. Which I know isn’t ideal long term, but again, she never did this before. So the week Gerber is gone we’ll start working on naps. I tried it early on, but it was too much while also trying to work on night time sleep. The sleep consultant recommend we work on night sleep before naps, because they can affect each other.

There you have it.

More than you probably ever wanted to know about baby sleep. Somehow I think I had this idea in my head that when you lay a baby down in their crib they just magically go to sleep. I never knew that it could be so much work to get a little one to sleep. Now, I recognize living in Guatemala, this is really all so cultural. Most Guatemalans that I know don’t own a crib and babies are usually carried everywhere by their mom, or grandma or the niñera, so babies sleep whenever and wherever. Obviously this way works, too. But I must say it has felt so good to be able to leave Elena at night and know that she is at home resting and sleeping.

So if you’re struggling and feeling like you don’t know what else to do to help your baby or toddler improve their sleep I cannot recommend this service enough. Here’s their homepage where you can sign up for the FREE newsletter and here’s the page for a sleep consultant.

Cheers, for sleeping babies!

 

** I was not paid or compensated by the BabySleep Site in anyway. I am just really thankful and appreciate the service. And hope if you’re exhausted and struggling with getting your baby to sleep that you’d know there are resources out there.**

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5 thoughts on “Why We Hired A Sleep Consultant

  1. NO WAY! I bought a package with Nicole in early January…and I’ve also loved the advice! Owen is still waking up once in the night, but that’s a huge improvement from December when he was up 2-4 times a night wanting his pacifier. I keep meaning to write up my own experience about this company because I think they’re great too.

    Friend, we think a like. I like you. 🙂 Happy snoozing!

  2. Ha. good minds think alike:) At first I had a flood of self doubt, I mean it seems like everyone else can just get their kiddo to sleep, why can’t I? But then I figured there most be more parents like me, who have on going sleep struggles. So glad go know that Nicole’s website helped you guys too!

  3. This is amazing! I had no idea these types of services existed – live or online. Man, I wish I had known with Ella. This makes me wonder if there’s a “tantrum consultant” out there….

  4. Oh, I feel like it’s still 2 steps fwd, 1 step back with this little one in terms of sleep. Was your ELla like that? yeah, I don’t even wanna think about tantrums yet.

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