Sleep and Settling Consultations: the low down!!!

On arrival to my first home visit today the mum was a little apprehensive. Why? She was told that I would make her baby cry for hours. So I wanted to write about my services and what Parents 2 B offers.

My sleep and settling techniques are age dependent. I offer assistance with routines that are flexible yet structured and most importantly adapted specifically to you and your baby. My sleep strategies aim to support you AND your baby by listening to your baby’s cues. I work with you to establish a strategy that you are all comfortable with. At no stage should you OR your baby be distressed.

I will be very honest and I always say from the outset .. there will be some crying involved. However, this crying is a result of your baby protesting, not of distress. There is a difference. By all means, if parents ask for controlled crying/CIO methods I am happy to assist. Otherwise I work within the parents comfort zone. There is no point to engaging my services otherwise. If you can’t follow through with the techniques there is no point! Agree … some techniques might gain quicker sleep ‘success’ (so to speak) than others but at the end of the day it won’t work unless I have parents 100% on board. It is a common scenario that parents have attempted multiple settling techniques (from well-known self-settling books, google, family and friends .. the list is endless) but often out of exhaustion (and nights are generally the breaking point) they have been unable to follow through with the settling techniques and subsequently resort back to rocking, feeding their baby back to sleep. I have picked up baby’s, given comforters, given dummy’s … I have done it all with baby’s I have seen.

Parents need to understand that teaching their baby to self settle will NOT happen overnight. This needs to be stressed. It takes commitment, consistency and support. Your baby has been assisted to sleep for 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months, 12 months ….. they will not learn to fall asleep on their own in one sleep cycle. Imagine if I took your bed away tonight and made you sleep on the floor. You wouldn’t sleep well and you too would protest until 1) I gave you your bed back or 2) you learnt to sleep on the floor. Your baby is no different. It takes time to learn a new skill.

Did you know that baby’s cry to wind down? Most baby’s take up to 20 mins to wind down before they accomplish sleep.

Your baby will, in the initial phases, protest the new settling techniques and you need to support your baby through this time. There are many ways to do this. For example: one of my baby’s has only every slept on mum or dad. So for one week we settled him to sleep in his cot. Yes, he protested but we supported them through this stage. It was very time consuming (as you could imagine) with mum settling him to sleep for up to 40 mins. Each day the assistance took less and less time. The following week we then slowly reduced the assistance and no longer settled him to sleep … we left him do the last little bit on his own. Today his mum messaged that he cried for 2 mins on putting in his cot and had had 3 x 2 hours sleep and slept for 10 hours overnight! All unassisted.

If you are seeking a sleep consultant, do your homework and talk to them about their techniques. Find one that will work with YOU.

It’s important to understand that every family is unique and they all have different approaches/beliefs to sleep & settling and parenting.

The most common mistake parents make when teaching their baby to self-settle is that they are not consistent. If you swaddle to sleep today and not tomorrow, if you rock to sleep today and not tomorrow, if you feed to sleep today and not tomorrow ….. how can you expect your baby to understand what you are expecting of them? Imagine for a second, if I came into your home and took away your bed. How well are you going to sleep tonight?? Your baby is no different.

Remember that babies thrive on repetition and consistency. It makes them feel safe, loved and reassured. Parents 2 B works with YOU and YOUR BABY on a settling technique (and trust me there are hundreds) that you can follow through with. Parents decide on a settling strategy that they are comfortable with and that they can follow through from beginning to end. There is no point embarking on sleep training otherwise! Don’t get me wrong. It is NOT easy. In fact it can be exhausting and at times easier to resort back to old ways. BUT it does get easier and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I initially encourage parents to focus on the daytime sleeps. Building good quality sleep during the day will lead to good quality sleep overnight. A common scenario is that in the first week or so (after the initial 48-72 hours) of sleep training, many babies have lots of ‘catch up’ sleep: remember sleeps promote sleep!

Whatever technique you decide on you need to be prepared to implement it strictly for a minimum 1 week, sometimes even longer! It takes your baby time to learn the new skill of self-settling. It won’t happen overnight – much like their current settling routine. This is why Parents 2 B encourages parents to have 4-5 home days post visit to cement the sleep and settling skills.

Apart from CONSISTENCY ….. SUPPORT is the final key to sleep and settling success. Make sure you and your partner (and whoever else maybe present ie: mum/mother inlaw) are also on the same page. Everyone in the house needs to be able to

1) Understand why you need to do this;

2) Understand the process;

3) Be able to follow the techniques from the beginning to the end; and

4) Remain consistent.

It is not helpful, and this is where many families are unsuccessful in sleep training, if their partner (or others) are either not involved in the process or not supportive.