Your Sleep Consulting Questions Answered!
There is a lot of information and mis-information when it comes to pediatric sleep consulting.
Can you sleep train without tears?
Can you sleep train while nursing?
At what age can I start sleep training?
These are a few of the common questions we hear when working with clients and in our Cleveland & Toledo: Ask the Birth Professionals Facebook Group.
We sat down with Briana, a certified pediatric sleep consultant from Nurtured Foundation, and asked her some common questions on sleep consulting to help dispel some myths and get you some answers.
1. How did you become interested in sleep consulting?
I first became interested in sleep consulting from the families that I work with for breastfeeding. I would see them in the first days of their baby’s life to help them with breastfeeding and then I would hear from them again around 4 months with questions about sleep. Afterwards, I started really educating myself on infant sleep and that is when I found the Family Sleep Institute, where I later became a Certified Child Sleep Consultant.
2. As a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and IBCLC, do you feel there can be a balance between sleep and breastfeeding?
Absolutely! It’s not all or nothing. You can have a beautiful successful breastfeeding relationship and have a healthy foundation for sleep for your little one. There are many ways that you can help your baby have healthy sleep habits and get the sleep they require so that they can flourish developmentally.
3. At what age can a parent safely night wean?
I always advise the families that I work with to have this discussion with their pediatrician to make sure baby is gaining the appropriate amount of weight and give their blessing to start sleep training. I personally feel that you should continue to have 1-3 night feedings until at least 9 months old, but I understand that is not what some families want. I am here to help them reach their own personal goals and do so by sharing my knowledge and training to help them get there.
4. At what age do you recommend sleep training and what do you look for as far as the child being ready?
I can actually work with families prenatally to help educate them on the importance of sleep and what to expect, as well as, help them establish healthy sleep habits moving forward. But, I usually recommend starting around 6 months of age as I feel they are developmentally ready and have also gone through the 4/5 month sleep regression.
(If your infant is younger than 4 month old, there is overnight infant care to help you get some sleep while instilling good, safe and age appropriate sleep habits for your infant.)
5. We know a common question is, ” Do we have to cry it out?”
You absolutely do not have to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing. I usually do not recommend this method unless the family requests it. I feel strongly on using parental involvement and using gentle approaches. I want the families that I work with to feel confident and able to fully commit to the sleep plan that I create for them and that plan is the one that they feel most comfortable with.
6. Does every sleep consulting method mean there are tears?
I think we all know by now that there is no such thing as a “no cry” sleep solution. When I get that first phone call from an exhausted parent, they are usually at the end of their rope and feeling hopeless as to what to do next. Their child usually has many negative sleep associations (rocking, walking, holding, feeding, etc.) in order to fall asleep and back to sleep when they wake up. So, in order to change this routine to help them fall asleep without doing all the extra things, there will most likely be some crying. I always ask my families, how involved do you want to be for your child’s process of falling and returning to sleep, and then we move forward from their to create the perfect sleep plan for them.
7. What is the biggest mistake parents make with sleep training?
This is an easy answer…CONSISTENCY. If you are not consistent with your sleep routine and the sleep plan that we have created, then it will be very difficult to reach your sleep goals. I really feel that I help parents be consistent as I remind them of their goals and how important a healthy sleep foundation is for the entire family.
8. What is the single most important piece of advice you can give parents considering sleep consulting?
I would definitely tell parents to stop comparing your baby or your situation to everyone else. Every baby is unique and special and this means that we have to figure out what works best for you and your baby.