For families who are experiencing sleep challenges with their babies there are many great resources available as a first port of call. These might include their mothers group, local maternity nurses, books, parents and friends to name a few! Some however might be seeking for more specialised help and that is when a baby sleep consultant can play an important supporting role.
When it comes to the statistics on Australian Babies you might or might not be surprised that 50 of Aussie babies aged between 1-2 years are surviving on less than 8 hours sleep a night. Furthermore Health Professionals reccomend that babies should ideally get 12 hours of sleep a night to promote optimum growth and development.
For many parents however when it comes to seeking professional help in the form of a sleep expert the concept of what a baby sleep consultant actually does often remains a mystery. As such I thought it would be helpful to layout an approach to help parent’s with their selection process in finding a sleep consultant. I have included this as a complete infographic at the base of this article should you wish to print this out!
I do hope you find it useful
So What Does A Baby Sleep Consultant Actually Do?
1) Demonstrate Experience
A credible sleep consultant will clearly state their relevant experience with babies and should be able to provide up front credibility why they could be a good choice to help you navigate the issues you are facing with your babies sleep.
A sleep consultant should listen to the challenges you are facing and will ask some initial questions around current sleep and feeding patterns, babies sleep environment, family situation etc. Many will ask you to complete a consultation/assessment form or similar to capture this information in depth and provide overview prior to consultation.
3) Prepare Personalised Sleep Plan
Based on the information provided the sleep consultant should create a personalised sleep plan that will detail suggestions to address the agreed common goals.
The sleep plan should include aspects such as: age specific settling advice based on your babies capability, advice on the nursery environment, nutritional and feeding advice, suggestions around activities and education for your baby at home, advice on how to minimise sleep associations and building healthy sleep habits, advice on structuring day naps for success
4) Phone/Video or In Home Consultation
Once the personalised plan is ready the Sleep Consultant will agree a Phone/Video or In-Home Consultation to go over the plan with you in detail and to allow you to ask questions and get clarity on details of the plan
5) Why In Home Consultations?
If you opted for an In Home Consultation its ideal to have this around your babies sleep time. The sleep consultant should provide more detail on your nursery environment and get into more details around products used that might help baby sleep – or hinder sleep for that matter! If you (and baby) are comfortable the sleep consultant should also offer to demonstrate settling techniques with your baby that are covered in your plan, this hands on approach will help those parents seeking more confidence in sleep and settling.
6) Provide Ongoing Support
The Sleep Consultant should also provide some form of ongoing support, clearly defined to last for a designated period ideally 2-3 weeks. They should also clearly state acceptable ways for you to communicate e.g phone, email. This is crucial as most parents find success in this followup period as they practice the plan and learnings. The sleep consultant can help them navigate any hurdles and adjust the plan if necessary.
What A Sleep Consultant Should NOT Do
1) Provide Medical Advice
A baby sleep consultant should ask for full medical background and history prior to working with you as sometimes this can have an impact on sleep. They should not provide medical advice however they should always refer for you to seek advice from your local doctor/GP
2) Use A One Size Fits All Approach
Your sleep consultant should not use only fixed methods. Every baby has different sleep needs as do adults, so a one size fits all approach rarely works when it comes to finding better sleep.