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I never knew there was such a thing as a sleep consultant for babies until I talked to the assistant at my chiropractor’s office. She used one to help solve her daughter’s sleep problems and raved about the results.
Shortly after hearing her story, a blogger I follow online talked about hiring one to help her son learn to sleep through the night.
Raleigh was a newborn at that time, so I filed the information away in my mind, in the “just in case I need it in the future” section.
Fast forward the better part of a year and Raleigh’s sleep was often worse than those early weeks. After months and months of multiple wake ups and night feeds, I finally reached my limit and decided to hire a sleep consultant to help us.
I set my expectations low because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I just wanted to stop getting up 3-4 times a night. But praise the Lord, with Pam’s help, Raleigh started sleeping through the night in just 2 or 3 days. It was a miracle.
In the time since writing about our sleep training journey, I’ve heard from many moms who are struggling with their baby’s sleep habits too.
I thought it would be a good idea to see if our sleep consultant, Pam, would be up for an interview. I asked, and she agreed!
Sleep consulting is a new concept to many moms; lots of people don’t know the service exists. I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t heard about it from others who used sleep consultants and had success.
In hopes of sharing helpful information about sleep consulting and what a sleep consultant does, Pam answered a series of interview questions for me.
Take it away, Pam!
Interview with Pam of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Pam Edwards and I am a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant from Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. I have 2 great little sleepers (ages 6 and 4) who are the reason I became so fascinated with sleep.
Sleep didn’t come easy for my kids and I was completely oblivious that sleep was such a ‘science’ until my daughter was born 6.5 years ago. I read every book you can imagine on pregnancy and the first years but nothing prepared me for having a difficult sleeper. As soon as I began to research and learn about what I was doing wrong, the changes in my daughter were incredible – and thus my passion for sleep was born 🙂
What is a sleep consultant and what do you do?
A sleep consultant is a professional who consults with families about the sleep habits of their babies and children. Many sleep consultants are certified through different organizations (although not all are).
Sleep consultants consult with families on the aspects of their children’s sleep that they are struggling with (whether it be nightwakings, short naps, bedtime battles, etc.) and help families come up with an age-appropriate plan to resolves these issues. There are often adjustments needed to be made to a child’s schedule, their sleep environment, or the way in which they are put to sleep so that the child is able to sleep to their full potential.
How did you get started in this profession?
Six and a half years ago when my daughter was born I thought I was armed and ready for life with a newborn – but boy was I wrong. Babies sleep all the time, right? Nope! I thought my daughter was ‘special’ because she would stay up for 8 hours during the daytime but attributed the hours of screaming we’d experience every night to ‘colic’. That baby was OVERTIRED!
I began to research and read everything I could about how much a baby that age needed to sleep (at that point, she shouldn’t have even been awake for 8 hours in a 24 hour period!) and applied all of my learnings to get my daughter the sleep she so desperately needed. It was night and day. She didn’t scream anymore, she wasn’t grumpy all day (my husband and I said to each other one difficult night that we just thought was going to be a grumpy person – that was just her personality. How sad that we thought that!), she was the happiest, most content baby ever.
Healthy sleep became addicting. I wanted everyone to experience it and started helping friends, family, and anyone I could.
Fast forward to the birth of my son two years later and armed with all of the knowledge I had, our experience with a newborn was so different. Sure we were still tired, but he didn’t scream all night, we enjoyed him more, everyone was better rested.
Four years ago I decided to try and make a profession out of this and here I am today – I’ve helped over 2000 families and I’m hooked 🙂
Where did you receive your training?
From the Family Sleep Institute.
What is the youngest age you will work with a baby to sleep train them? Is your goal at this age to get them to sleep through the night, or do you have a specific age they must be in order to work on getting them to sleep through the night?
I begin working with families once babies have reached the 16 week adjusted mark. Our goal at this age isn’t for baby to sleep through the whole night as many babies at this age still require nightfeeds.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions with sleep coaching – we can sleep coach and still feed our baby at nighttime. Sleep coaching does not = total nightweaning.
90% of babies will sleep through the night on their own by 8/9 months of age as long as healthy sleep habits are established.
Why is it important to help a baby learn to sleep through the night?
There have been a lot of recent studies on the importance of sleep on a child’s development. Healthy sleep affects all areas of a child’s development and not getting that sleep (especially consolidated and quality sleep at nighttime) can be detrimental to their development. Chronic fatigue has been linked to obesity, defiant behavior, difficulty concentrating, and a host of other issues.
While it’s normal for young babies to wake at night to feed, there comes an age where these feeds are no longer required and consolidated sleep is necessary. Sleep is food for a child’s brain.
What is the process of working with you like? How does it work? What can people expect?
After the initial contact and a package has been chosen, we start our journey to better sleep 🙂 We have our consultation (which is either in person, over the phone, on Skype, via FaceTime, or just back and forth through email) where we chat about the issues you’re having, what your goals are, and about your baby/babies! We come up with a plan together on how we’re going to tackle these issues and achieve our goals and from there I’m able to write up your sleep plan for you. We choose a day to start, you put that plan into action, and I support you daily for the following 1-2+ weeks while you implement those changes.
Sleep training is a tough process but it’s so incredibly well-worth it. Sleep is so important for not only children but for adults as well, and the process of sleep coaching is an important step in establishing the healthy sleep habits required to get that healthy sleep. Not all children *need* sleep training and not all families believe in it, but for those that do, it can be life-changing.
How long does sleep training usually take?
This depends on a lot of factors such as baby’s age, level of sleep debt, how consistent parents are, what method you choose, etc.
Most families start to see an improvement with a baby’s nightsleep within about 3-5 nights. Naps often take longer and it may be closer to the end of the first week before they start to come together. But all babies progress at different rates and some are quick learners and some are a bit slower – and that’s okay!
What are some tips to help a newborn develop good sleep habits?
Newborn sleep is erratic and unpredictable and that is 100% normal. A lot of it is luck of the draw – you either get a newborn that likes to sleep or a newborn that does not like to sleep.
With newborns, the main goal is just to avoid the overtired state, so we use all the tools we can to do this – short awake times (for babies up to 2 months of age, 45-60 minutes maximum), white noise, swaddling, a dark room, swing for sleep, pacifier – anything you can get your hands on to keep that baby rested.
As baby starts to become a bit more predictable, you can start encouraging early healthy sleep habits – trying to put baby down drowsy but awake, separating food from sleep (feeding when baby wakes up vs. before they go down for sleep), utilizing a consistent sleep space (whether it be a bassinet, crib, etc.), consistent pre-sleep routines (cues that tell baby sleep is coming), all while keeping intervals of wakefulness short.
When we hit the 16 week mark, if all else has failed, we can use some non-direct sleep coaching methods to work on baby falling asleep independently and getting rid of any ‘props’ that baby has come to rely on for sleep.
How about tips for older babies?
For older babies, it’s all about consistency. Babies learn by repetition and love predictability. Making sure you have solid routines that are calming and signal to baby that sleep is coming is important.
It’s also never too late to sleep train – a lot of parents believe that their child is ‘too far gone’ but that couldn’t be further from the truth – it’s never too late to establish healthy sleep habits.
Older babies are easily overstimulated just like younger babies so continuing to use those same tools (namely a dark room and white noise) will not only signal that sleep is coming but also help to block out stimulation.
Also, doing a bit of research on what ‘appropriate’ sleep looks like for a baby at any given age – most families are very surprised to learn about how much sleep babies need and how short awake times should be – even when they are 6 months+!
Also, it’s often frustrating at how ‘inconvenient’ a baby’s nap/sleep schedule can be when trying to schedule in time for you to live your life, and there is always room for flexibility, but trying to really respect a baby’s need for quality sleep will pay off in a major way when they are older.
If you had to give sleepless parents a word of encouragement or support, what would you tell them?
It’s never too late – don’t be afraid to ask for help. That doesn’t mean you need to hire a sleep consultant (but hey, why not? ;)) but just know that it doesn’t always *have* to be this way. Yes babies wake up a lot, they have needs that don’t follow any convenient schedule, but every single baby has the capacity to learn to sleep to their full potential, and you’d be surprised at what that potential is if you give them a chance to wow you. 🙂
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
It is important that if you are planning to hire a consultant to help with your baby’s sleep, that you do your research.
There are a lot of sleep sites out there but not all consultants are certified and not all of us follow the same philosophies about sleep. Read up on them, ask questions, make sure you seem compatible, as this process is exhausting and you want someone in your corner that you can depend on!
What is your preferred contact method?
Families can contact me through my website at www.weebeedreaming.com, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, message me through my Facebook page (Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting) or give me a shout at 587.343.2267.
Thank you, Pam!
I am sure it’s obvious from reading through Pam’s eloquent and detailed responses that she knows her stuff. I was thoroughly impressed by her knowledge and the ease in which she was able to teach me what to do to help Raleigh sleep better.
Pam made sleep training, which can be a very uncertain and intimidating thing, seem manageable and possible.
Now knowing what the process of working with Pam is like and the success that we had in just 3 days, her services are worth far more than she charges.
It is among the best money I’ve spent in my motherhood season yet.
If you are one of those tired, weary mamas who is struggling with your baby’s sleep, my hope is that this information might be the gentle push you need to realize there is hope. Sleep is possible, and if you don’t know what to do next, there is help available. You don’t need to struggle alone! Sleep consultants like Pam are there, waiting to help people just like you.
And take it from a mama who’s baby is finally able to sleep through the night without needing assistance to fall back asleep if he wakes up, a good sleep consultant is worth their weight in gold.