Infant Sleep Coaching – What’s it all about?
One in four infants will have some sort of sleep disorder. That’s not a medical condition. We’re talking about behavioural based sleep challenges that prevent the child (and parents) from getting the sleep they need.
It is such huge problem for families that a whole industry of ‘sleep experts’ has arisen to solve these challenges. It is a complex topic and one with many counter-intuitive solutions which is why, as parents, we often accidentally make our situation worse. For example, ‘tire the child out and he will sleep better’ – In fact, the opposite is true and this will make it all much worse!
More and more people are seeking help from ‘sleep coaches’ or ‘sleep consultants’ than ever before but why? What’s changed?
Today’s world and the increased need for parental sleep
We are living in a world now where parents are busier than ever. Many families have two working parents and far less have the support of extended family around them.
Once upon a time one parent would usually stay at home and just muddle through, suck it up and preserve through the sleep deprivation – Snatching naps when possible and having support from circles of other ‘mum friends’ or family close by, was another popular way to make it through.
This still works for some but we have so many more things to juggle in this modern world. We are drawn to our phones, texting, facebook – Some of this helps us feel connected, reminds us we are not alone and enables us to get the virtual support networks we still crave.
Baby groups have taken on a whole new ebb. From sensory to signing, to speech and every sport you can imagine. Many mum’s fill their little one’s schedule with classes to help socially develop the infant and enable mum some adult conversation, support and again to unite and not feel alone.
With network marketing on the rise and lots of ‘work from home’ opportunities aimed at mums to earn some extra income, in comes yet another pressure. Well, if it’s that easy, why wouldn’t you want to bring in some more funds for your family? – Another pressure, another thing to juggle.
The point is, we are ALL juggling more than we used to in generations before us because the world we live in today is filled with so many more distractions, opportunities and it’s all so accessible!
Whether you are a 24/7 parent/caregiver or you have a career as well, we rely on our sleep at night a whole lot more these days.
We are also surrounded by so much more technology. Screens give off blue light and our daily exposure to screens is higher than ever. This hinders our ability to settle to sleep and can cause more disturbed sleep, even for those who don’t have little ones to add to that!
Consequences of sleep deprivation
Parents are trying to function on less sleep and it is so dangerous. Some families seek help from me who are so tired they are suffering from depression, their marriages are falling apart, their health is deteriorating, their job is on the line, they have no patience and don’t enjoy their children, they can’t even drive safely and responsibly!
That is no way to survive. We want to enjoy every moment of our little ones lives and why suffer like this when you can get some help and it can all be a million times better in just a few weeks in most cases.
Enter the sleep expert.
What is a sleep coach?
Many people still don’t even realise that this sort of help exists. Many others are sceptical that it ‘works’ and some question the validity of the expertise. Almost all think it must involve some sort of traumatic experience and that the little one will in some way be scarred for life but this is simply not true.
Sleep training gets a bad name because it is associated with teaching babies and young children how to sleep independently. But it is often assumed that this will mean leaving babies to cry it out. I think I speak on behalf of the majority of sleep consultants out there when I say – that is not what we do!
At The Sleep Nanny® we are big advocates of very gentle strategies for helping little ones to sleep soundly and contently. Our position is always to listen to the client and devise a solution that suits the infant’s temperament and the parenting style.
It is important to note that being able to put oneself to sleep is a learned skill. Some easy going temperaments will naturally grasp this concept with a simple routine that the parents put in place. Often parents don’t even realise they taught their child anything.
More alert temperaments have a harder time shutting down for sleep and require parents to be more educated on the complex topic of infant sleep in order to help them.
You can spot a super alert temperament because they look like they are taking notes on the world, are very inquisitive and often reach developmental milestones a little earlier than average.
My role as a sleep consultant is to work with the parents to reach their desired goals. I do this through assessing, consulting and coaching. I do not treat children. I am not a doctor. I provide information and coaching on behavioural situations.
Why ask for help?
Smart people ask for help. For some reason we think we ‘should know’ how to get our children to sleep or that we are somehow failing as a parent if we seek help. That is crazy. We will look for advice in chat forums or share ideas with our friends but why does asking a professional make you feel defeated?
I even have self-led programmes that I designed for those who really want to do it themselves and just want the resources to enable them to resolve it. However many parents are too exhausted and just want direct and personalised help and faster results.
We ask for help, take courses and get training on pretty much every other aspect in life when we can’t do it alone or we don’t know how. why should it be any different in the case of infant sleep?
You are stuck on something, it is having a huge impact on your family, nothing is more important and yet you resist asking for help from someone who has the answers for you.
Coaching is growing in the UK. It is no longer something that is reserved for sports people. Life coaching is a well known term and now business coaching is a must have for any business owner. In the UK we are slowly becoming more and more accustomed to the concept of paying for information and guidance.
Challenges in the field of sleep consulting
Sleep coaching is currently an unregulated field. This means that anybody can do it so you should always check the credentials of a consultant before you hire one.
I would love to see regulation in the field but this will be very hard to achieve. Many maternity nurses, childcare workers and midwives take to sleep consulting as it sits nicely alongside their existing knowledge and experience. Some take additional training while others do not but always look for a sleep specific certification or training because the topic is vast and complex.
Paediatricians, GPs and health visitors have told me that I am more qualified than they are to answer behavioural sleep questions based on my training and experience. This is because my learning has been specifically crafted to serve sleep deprived parents of children aged 0-6 years.
No medical training is necessary to practice as a behavioural sleep expert but knowledge and understanding of related medical aspects is a great asset.
The best results come when the client and coach are a good fit. When you communicate well with each other, you feel a connection and the coach’s words resonate with you.
Who is it for?
Sleep coaching and sleep training is not for everyone. Also, there is no right or wrong way to go about it so long as you are keeping your child safe and maintaining sleep safety. It is only a problem if it is a problem. For example, if you are co-sleeping and this works for you and your family, then no problem.
When what you are doing is no longer serving you or you and your little one are not getting the sleep you need, that is when it’s time to take action. I cannot think of anything more important than the well-being, health and happiness of my family and I imagine most parents would feel the same.
Click here to find out more about how The Sleep Nanny® can help you directly.