You’ve finally taken the first step and decided to work with a baby or toddler sleep expert (or about to). Congratulations!
One thing I’ve learned in my many years of sleep consulting is that some families are more successful than others. True, much of it depends on your baby and his or her temperament and personality, but I also find that successful families have a few things in common. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when working with a baby or toddler sleep expert:
1. Open Up
I know it may be hard to share with your sleep consultant, especially if you haven’t met in person or had an actual conversation, but by being more open with details, you help us help you. Giving critical details about your sleep routines, schedule, and baby’s personality, you unlock important things that will help you be successful. For example, I once worked with a mom who was bed-sharing with her adoptive daughter from China who had a bad case of insomnia. By sharing critical details, I was able to help her diagnose a dairy intolerance/allergy, something neither her doctor or anyone around her considered. Your sleep consultation is confidential and our job isn’t to judge your lifestyle or parenting choices. If we can help a family who lives on a houseboat and travels extensively or one who lives in a teepee in a forest, we can help you, too.
2. Be a team
Recognize that although your sleep expert has a lot of knowledge and practical experience, you know your baby best! Be sure to work with a baby sleep expert who isn’t going to just bark orders at you without listening to your concerns and what you already know about your baby. I have heard things like, “My previous sleep consultant kept telling me to do this, but it didn’t feel right.” Or, “I wish I hadn’t followed her advice.” Do recognize that it needs to be a good fit between you and your expert. If something doesn’t feel right to you, then speak up, so you can work through it.
3. Ongoing Communication
When we create a Personalized Sleep Plan® for your family, we make over 50 decisions (yes, we counted!) and while our sleep history process is thorough, it can take some back and forth communication to find the most perfect fit for your family. Keeping lines of communication open with your baby sleep expert is a key to success. And, babies don’t always follow the plan exactly as designed. If things are not going according to plan, let us help you troubleshoot. That’s why we’re here! You’re not “bothering” us at all.
4. Keep your expectations realistic
This is one main thing that can set apart successful families from those who are unsuccessful and give up. Clients who come in with realistic expectations tend to have more patience to give sleep coaching a chance to work. Their child may exceed their expectations (which actually happens quite often), but when parents have too-high expectations and expect their child to sleep straight through for 12 hours after working on their sleep for 3 nights or similar, these parents tend to give up by day 5 and may go back to poor sleep habits and months of sleep deprivation. These parents tend to come back later “ready to try again,” sometimes months later. While many babies and toddlers can achieve significant change in a short amount of time, some need more days in order to make new habits – and even longer to keep them!
5. Try not to feel like a failure
Your baby is growing and changing at a rapid pace in these first few years, so try not to take it as a personal failure if your baby improves in sleep and then backslides and sleep gets worse, again. You are not “failing” him or her. I can tell you with utmost confidence that each age has unique challenges, sleep-related and otherwise. If you need to talk to your sleep consultant, again, that’s okay and even expected! Nap transitions, teething, illness, travel, sleep regressions all can cause hiccups in sleep, but your sleep expert is there for you to help you navigate these ongoing changes. Remember, your baby sleep expert, is an extension of your “village” and just like you might ask your mom for advice on many occasions, we too are here for you as many times as you need.
So, there ya go! These are 5 ways to get the most out of your sleep consultation experience and I thank you for visiting our sleepy little village today. Talk to you soon!