You’ve been up much of the night for weeks on end with your fussy baby. Trying to hold things together at home and at work on so little sleep is unraveling you. It’s time to call in the experts! But who do you call? Who can help you get to the bottom of your baby’s sleep issues and come up with a speedy solution–one that will work for both you and your little one.
Firstly, there isn’t a single board for sleep consultant certifications like a state’s board of nursing. College degrees in sleep training don’t exist either, so you need to know what you are looking for in a professional. Here are a few tips to guide you in finding the right person.
You can start by searching for associations of professional sleep consultants. They have criteria you can review for accepting members; they will have lists and contact details of members in your area. Anyone can say they are a sleep trainer based on experience, so be sure to look for certifications as it is another step toward determining credibility. Certified sleep consultants will also list their accreditations if they have any. This can help ensure that their methods are evidence-based and meet industry standards.
If you have specific needs, check if they have previous experience with them. For example, your baby might have a complex medical issue, reflux, or be breastfeeding with a tongue-tie. These all require specific attention and techniques. Look for a sleep consultant with appropriate skills, be it medical training, experience with multiples, special needs, or breastfeeding.
Remember to consider their formal education as well. While your potential consultant might not have the experience in sleep training, their degree in child development, public health, social work, or nursing may cross over to fill in the gaps their sleep background lacks.
Chances are you are not the only person in your friend group to encounter sleep problems. You may have a great parent support network that has already recommended some consultants they have used. If not, ask for recommendations from trusted people, as it’s excellent for alleviating trepidation. Testimonials are another way to hear about how the trainer works. Make sure the testimonials are realistic and thorough. They may not be authentic if they sound scripted or very similar to each other.
Are you a Type A personality looking for a more scientific approach to sleep, or are you looking for a few simple changes you can implement yourself? Do you have a sleep training method in mind you want to implement? Make sure to communicate those expectations up front to prospective consultants.
Ask the consultant their general philosophy on sleep and how they approach sleep issues with clients. You want similar approaches and core expectations to prevent clashing on implementation methods down the road.
Many trainers expect you to log data in the form of a sleep diary or tracking app, so you might want to get into the habit before hiring a consultant. If you aren’t willing to commit to this, any consultant you hire may be hard pressed to find the issues contributing to your sleep struggles. Again, communicate these expectations at the beginning.
The price shouldn’t be the only deciding factor, but you should be aware. You get what you pay for, so make sure you understand the fee breakdown. A fee may shock you initially but could include an initial consultation, unlimited text support, a few nights in the home, and subsequent phone consultations. Another may look too good to be true, but it only covers a video call, a typed sleep plan, and one follow-up call. The cost will reflect their level of involvement and will fluctuate based on your needs, comfort level, and budget.
In the end, it’s how you feel about the sleep consultant. If you don’t feel like you can trust them, you won’t get the results you want. Do they seem compassionate and caring? Have they listened to your concerns and made a personalized plan to address them? Have they set realistic expectations and outcomes for you and your child? Are you willing to let them into your home, handling your precious baby while you sleep? It’s a very intimate decision and should feel right for everyone.
Even if you opt for the top-of-the-line baby sleep training specialist services (where you sleep while they work), you will still have to follow through with it once the trainer leaves. You should have a completed assessment of your child’s sleep-related difficulties and an implementation plan broken into steps for you to carry out. A cheat sheet of sleep tips and best practices is a nice bonus. You should have a follow-up plan or way to get in touch if you encounter snags. Like most things in life, the more energy you put into this, the more success you will have and the better sleep you and your little ones will get.
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