7 Confessions Of A Sleep Consultant
When people find out what I do for a living, I usually get 1 of 2 responses: “You’re a sleep consultant? Wow, I needed you like 10 years ago” or, “You’re a sleep consultant? That’s so interesting. Can I ask you a question…how do you really get baby to sleep?”
No matter what questions are asked, I generally answer these generic questions with generic answers. “Babies need to sleep, just like they need to eat and get comfort and love from their parents.”
It sounds simple enough, but we all know babies don’t come with instruction manuals—they are complicated beings. If I could sum up and package information to give to each family about their child and their child’s sleep, this is what I would say they need to know:
1. Your baby/toddler/child can and will sleep 12 uninterrupted hours during the night.
Yes, I said it and even though you may think it’s unbelievable, it’s true! Especially when you are in the thick of sleep deprivation and you don’t see an end in sight.
So, why 12 hours and how do I know that it’s possible? Because 12 hours is the number of hours that sleep researchers recommend. These researchers are pediatric medical providers who have conducted thousands of studies that have resulted in restorative sleep plans for children. They consistently see that babies who are trained or put on a good sleep schedule can happily sleep for 12 uninterrupted hours.
2. Sleep trainers are not restrictive.
A sleep consultant’s goal is to help create healthy boundaries, rhythms and consistency. No matter how hard you try to fight it, your child is not giving up easily on the routine that helps them remain cool, calm and collected. A lot of parents think that a sleep consultant is going to have them “locked” in a room, tortured and stuck in the house ALL day long. This is not the case.
Children need to learn what is expected of them, especially at bedtime. The setup of a bedtime routine and allowing a sleep environment in your child’s room isn’t restrictive at all. It actually allows more time for the parent in the evening to tackle whatever tasks that remain for the day.
In regards to naps, sometimes it can feel like you are on “lock down” and restricted to your home. If your child is napping more than once per day, it can be a challenge to get all of their naps in if you need to run errands. Just do the best that you can. Strive for at least 50% of your child’s naps in their crib. The other 50% can be in the car or wherever.
3. Every time I help one mom, as a sleep consultant, it feels like I can conquer the world.
I’m going to get real with you for a second here. It aches my heart when a mom (I mostly work with moms) is struggling with sleep deprivation due to her child not sleeping well. Simply because it’s completely preventable.
When I consult with a mom and she admits to me that she is resentful of her child, or motherhood is not what she expected, I can literally feel her pain. It’s not uncommon for sleep deprivation to weigh on a person’s mental state. Sometimes moms are going through the nightly routine alone because dad doesn’t help with the night time duties, or she feels “mom guilt” because she thinks she’s “damaging” her child because his sleep is all over the place. When I can help relieve this stressor that affects all aspects of a mom’s well-being, I honestly feel like a hero! I can relate to all of these scenarios and I want to help as best that I can.
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4. Sleep consultants don’t like babies crying either.
I don’t like it when your baby cries either and I strive for minimal crying in my sleep training schedules. Babies cry (and they can cry a lot) when you look at the broad spectrum of things. They cry when they are hungry, when they want to be held, when they want to sleep, etc. The method that I use for sleep training is not cry-it-out, however, there is still crying involved. This is because there is a disruption in what baby is used to and crying is a way to communicate displeasure in the process. Fortunately, babies learn quickly and the crying is short lived.
5. Sleep training is not harsh or a mean thing to implement.
Sleep training is gentle and sleep consultants work happily with individual families and circumstances.
There are a few sleep training methods out there and I don’t have an issue with any of them. I create a sleep plan that suits baby’s personality and developmental stage. I’ve learned that taking little bits of information from different sleep training methods works best. I always develop plans that the parents are involved in creating too. I rely heavily on mom and how she feels that baby will react to the process since mom knows baby/child best.
6. Hiring a sleep consultant is worth the investment.
It all depends on what price you put on your sanity and getting your husband back in your bed! I can’t tell you how often I hear, “My husband sleeps in the guest room because he has to get a full night’s sleep for work.” Yikes!
Once you recognize that your family dynamic starting to shift because of lack of sleep, you should consider hiring a professional. Getting everyone back on track and in the right sleep spaces is important for everyone’s mental state. I don’t believe that babies were designed to “flip the house” upside down! There can be peaceful rest for everyone, every night.
7. Identifying props can solve many sleep related issues for babies.
I take on each case with fresh eyes and thoughts. With my background in mental health and diagnostic ability, I have a unique skill of hearing a parent’s concern. Then I find the issue and put a plan together to resolve it. Every baby that I work with has some kind of prop in which he needs to fall asleep—sometimes two props. Once we find out how baby is getting to sleep, we can develop a way to eliminate the prop and ultimately resolve the issue.
I hope you learn something my confessions and consider how it relates to your child’s sleep ability. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you are ready. It’s not shameful, nor are you a “bad mom” if you choose to sleep train your child. All babies need boundaries and guidance navigating this new environment that they are in. It’s our job as parents to be that guiding light for them so that they can navigate with ease.
Tonja Bizor is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and Public Speaker who helps parents teach their children healthy sleep habits. She specializes in getting children aged 3 months to 3 years old to sleep 12 hour, uninterrupted nights. She’s helped over 50 families move from sleep deprived to sleep filled nights.
Tonja offers group seminars and private, one-on-one coaching with families, where she develops individualized customized sleep plans for parents to follow.
Tonja completed her Masters degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Clinical/Counseling. She studied under Dana Obleman and achieved her coaching Certification with the Sleep Sense Program.
Tonja was a guest on Talk of Alabama on ABC and she’s been featured in numerous magazines and websites such as Romper, Military Spouse Fest, Birmingham Parent Magazine and Dr. Laura.