Sleep Deprivation Hurts Everyone

They say you can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep. We completely agree. Sleep is essential for growing babies and for their parents to be able to properly function in order to PROTECT their babies.

Babies need 13-18 hours of sleep within the 1st year
A baby’s brain doubles in size in its 1st year
A baby’s brain grows 1% per day in its 1st 3 months

Some parents equate their lack of sleep to a badge of honor. Others feel guilty if they attempt to “sleep train” their baby. No matter your views, forming good sleep habits is important for ALL family members. And good sleep habits start in their infancy and can last a lifetime.

Helping your baby develop good sleep habits not only staves off sleep deprivation for you, but helps set them up for growth. After all, a baby’s brain repairs tissues, releases growth hormones, and consolidates learnings all while sleeping.

Most adults wake up 1-2 times per night. We can usually fall back asleep because we have learned how to “self-soothe.” Babies also need to learn how to “self-soothe” so they can put themselves back to sleep when they inevitably wake up multiple times during the night. This is why forming good sleep habits early-on helps to set-up your baby well for the future. Long stretches of high-quality sleep recharges their brain so they can wake well-rested and ready to thrive.

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Sleep Deprivation Hurts Everyone

They say you can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep. We completely agree. After all, sleep is essential for growing babies and for their parents to be able to properly function in order to PROTECT their babies.

Sleep Consultant

Some parents equate their lack of sleep to a badge of honor. Others feel guilty if they attempt to “sleep train” their baby. No matter your views, forming good sleep habits is important for ALL family members. And good sleep habits start in their infancy and can last a lifetime.

Helping your baby develop good sleep habits not only staves off sleep deprivation for you, but helps set them up for growth. After all, a baby’s brain repairs tissues, releases growth hormones, and consolidates learnings all while sleeping.

Considerations Before Hiring a Sleep Consultant

Before running out and hiring a Sleep Consultant (also known as a “Sleep Coach”) to help “sleep train” your infant, there are a few things you should be aware of:

  • 4 Months Minimum Age: Most doctors do not recommend starting a “sleep training” program before a baby is at least 4 months of age. For the 1st 3 months of a baby’s life, they have not fully developed their circadian rhythms yet and can’t differentiate between night and day. Sleep training usually is not possible yet for newborns of this age Many parents, however, meet with a Sleep Consultant BEFORE their baby is born in order to help prepare them, in advance, for a future sleep training program

  • Ideal Age = 6 Months: While some Sleep Experts say you can start sleep training at 4 months of age, many others disagree and recommend waiting until at least 6 months because most babies can’t develop self-soothing habits yet until this age. BoobFairy’s “official” recommendation is to wait until a baby is at least 6 months old before starting any sleep training program, especially if you are breastfeeding, in order to minimize any potential lactation supply issues that could result from inconsistent feedings

  • Might Impact Lactation: If lactation / breastfeeding is important to you, you should raise any concerns with your Sleep Consultant about balancing night feedings with getting adequate sleep

  • Build Collaborative Team: If possible, we recommend hiring a Lactation Consultant in addition to a Sleep Consultant and then collaborate together on building a care plan that balances both priorities: sleep and lactation. Cutting back on night time feedings can negatively impact your milk supply and cause issues like mastitis; getting proper advice helps mitigate these potential concerns

  • Possible Medical Issue: Could your child’s sleep problems actually be caused by a medical issue? If you think an underlying medical issue might be the root cause of your child’s sleep problems, such as sleep apnea, airway blockages, sickness, reflux or teething (teething is not a “medical issue,” but it often causes a lack of sleep), then finding a Sleep Consultant with medical / clinical training would likely be the better approach for you

When Should I Hire a Sleep Consultant?

If your baby is at least 6 months old and is waking up every 2-3 hours, is not napping well, and their lack of sleep is also hurting your ability to function properly, then you might want to consider hiring a Sleep Consultant

If you have scoured the internet (and/or books) for sleep advice OR don’t have the time or energy to read them, then it might be time to hire a Sleep Consultant

“It’s hard to overstate the hopelessness of indefinite sleep deprivation. We just want someone to tell us what to do and when to do it.”
-Parent of newborn interviewed in Vox Article

Why Hire a Sleep Consultant?

Why Hire a Sleep Consultant

Sleep Consultants can help effectively implement sleep training programs that help babies to sleep and improve the family’s living environment

In a 2011 clinical study called “Sleep in the Family,” it was reported that: “Behavioral intervention for infant sleep problems have been shown to improve maternal mood, decrease caregiver fatigue, and reduce distress in both mothers and fathers, with benefits for maternal depression maintained for up to 2 years.

By hiring a Sleep Consultant, you are getting a specialist that gives you the right information at the right time for your personalized situation, in a quick manner.

There are a lot of online resources and books out there that talk about children’s sleep, in a general fashion. You likely do not have the time nor energy to read them though. Or those resources might not be helpful for your specific situation. This is where a Sleep Consultant can come in handy.

Sleep Consultants…

Possess specialized training & knowledge

Can detect which behaviors and patterns are causing issues and how to properly address them

Create comprehensive & personalized plans

Discover the root of your child’s sleep issues because all infants deal with sleep differently

Save you time and energy

Get the answers you need, quickly, to help resolve your child’s sleep-related issues

Provide encouragement & support

Help maintain personal accountability while working towards a better night’s sleep for your family

What Does a Sleep Consultant Do?

Sleep Consultants don’t train babies – they train parents! After all, a baby / child takes sleep cues from the parents and the routines that they put into action.

A Sleep Consultant’s job is to educate families on the biological needs of sleep, teach safe sleep practices, help create the optimal sleep environment, and provide overall support and guidance. A Sleep Consultant acts as a cheerleader and educator.

A Sleep Consultant typically guides the parent on how to set-up proper sleep habits for themself and then how to put those techniques into practice, themself. They don’t put your child to sleep for you. It’s the “teach a man to fish” model so that you can implement best practices yourself in the future, if your child ever regresses at another age, which can happen at different stages of a child’s development.

Sleep Consultants work with clients in a variety of ways, depending on the family’s preferences and needs. They offer consults via in-app messages, video calls, and sometimes even in-home consults, although this is more rare. The timeframes also vary from a one-time consultation at an hourly rate to a bundled package at a set-price that lasts for 1-3 weeks while others offer extended support for up to 1 year via a monthly retainer.

A Sleep Consultant will likely ask parents to make changes to their baby’s feeding schedule, nap, and bedtime routines as well as alter the baby’s sleep environment too.

Babies love routine. Be consistent in setting a specific schedule and sticking with it. Keep the same bedtime every night, regardless of what is going on in your life. Stick to the same songs and read the same number of books. Stick to the same feeding schedule. The more disciplined the parent is about feeding, play, and the pre-sleep routine, the better the baby’s sleep habits will be.

The Sleep Consultant also assesses the child’s sleep environment so that the setting is most conducive to deep, long sleep. They ensure that the room is dark (e.g. blackout curtains), the room temperature is cool (between 68-72 degrees), that any lights that are present promote melatonin production (reds, yellows, and oranges instead of blues and greens), that the child’s sleep area is safe and in order, and that there is a white noise machine for babies so that they are reminded of the womb and to block out disruptive noises. There are numerous other variables too, but these are some of the most common ones. Since each family has a unique environment, a Sleep Consultant can personalize their advice based on your specific living situation.

Different Sleep Methods

The sleep training method that is ultimately used will depend on the Expert’s certification, training and the preferences / comfort level of the parents. For example, many parents can’t stomach hearing their child cry and therefore a “Cry It Out” sleep method is not a good choice for them. The important factor is to be honest with yourself because if you won’t stick with that type of sleep method, then the sleep training will likely fail and the effort will be in vain.

Forewarning, with ANY sleep method, there will likely be some level of crying involved – there really isn’t a “no-tears” method. That crying might actually come from you instead of your kids! Any change to their current sleep routine is usually frustrating to a child and if they can’t use their words yet, they will likely express themselves through tears. By the end of the 1st week of sleep training, most crying dissipates and the new routine becomes easier on children.

Here are six of the more common Sleep Methods being used:

  • Fading Method, a “gentle” sleep training method
    – Exclusively uses soothing techniques to help your baby fall asleep. These soothing techniques include feeding, snuggling, rocking, reading books, and/or singing lullabies. As your baby grows, they naturally become less needy and then you can slowly “fade out” of the night-time routine 
  • Pick-Up/Put-Down Method, a “no-cry” sleep training method
    – It’s as simple as it sounds. Pick up your baby whenever they cry, and put them back down after soothing. Repeat this until the baby falls asleep
  • Camping Out Method A sleep strategy that is usually reserved for older babies and children to get them comfortable falling asleep on their own. It involves sleeping next to the child in the early days of sleep training until they fall asleep
  • Chair Method A parent sits in a chair next to the crib until a baby falls asleep. The parent does not use any soothing techniques to calm any crying or fussing. Each night, the parent moves the chair further away from the crib. Eventually, the parent leaves the room altogether and sits outside the door until feeling comfortable leaving the baby on its own
  • Cry It Out Method aka “total extinction”
    -After putting the baby down to sleep, the parent leaves the room and does not respond to the baby’s cries throughout the night. No assistance is offered to the baby while the baby is crying and eventually the baby will fall asleep on its own without assistance
  • Ferber Method aka “graduated extinction”
    -It is a “gentler” variation on the “Cry It Out Method” in which the parent leaves the room but does return to respond to their baby’s crying after a set-time interval, e.g. after the baby is crying for 5 minutes. Each night, the parent increases that time interval, such as waiting for 10 minutes the next night, and then 15 minutes two days later. Eventually, the baby will learn to self-soothe and fall asleep independently

When speaking to a potential Sleep Consultant, make sure that you fully understand the different types of sleep methods that they offer and ensure that you are comfortable implementing that particular sleep method for your children. If you are not sure you will be able to use that particular method, then make sure you speak up and raise your objections. A sleep training method is only likely to work if you can honestly commit to it and see it through to the end. If that Sleep Consultant is not willing to work with you to execute a sleep training method that you prefer, then it’s best to find another Sleep Consultant that approves of that method and will support your choice.

Results of Sleep Studies

Parents continue to hire Sleep Consultants because sleep training has been proven to work. In 2006, Jodie Mindell, a famed psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that has helped thousands of sleep patients, reviewed the results of 52 sleep training studies and discovered that sleep training decreased resistance to sleep at bedtime and reduced night wakings, as reported by the parents, in 49 of those studies.

According to Mindell’s 2006 report, extinction sleep training (which includes the “Ferber Method” of graduated extinction sleep training) is associated with the following positive outcomes:

  • Children are less likely to throw bedtime tantrums
  • Children are more likely to settle down at night within ten minutes
  • Children are less likely to awaken their parents during the night 
  • Parents report improvements in their own stress levels, mood, and interactions with their children 
  • Parents have also reported improvements in their child’s daytime behavior

In one particular study, gentle sleep methods such as the “fading out method,” demonstrated a 30% reduction in parents reporting sleep problems five months later.

Many Sleep Consultants hold a popular belief that the “Cry It Out” sleep method is the fastest and/or most effective sleep method for babies, but there is actually no evidence to support this assumption, according to Mindell.

“Parents are looking for what’s the most effective [sleep] method. But what that is depends on the parents and the baby. It’s a personalized formula. There’s no question about it.”

But what is proven is that sleep training methods do work. Researchers [in a 2016 pediatric sleep study] found out that babies who fell asleep using the “Cry It Out” method actually fell asleep faster and had less stress than babies in the control group. The babies were also more likely than the control group to sleep through the night.

Psychological Impact of Sleep Training on Children

A few psychologists, child development advocates, and parents feel that sleep training methods are “cruel” and that the “cry it out” method is harmful to their psyche. While this is a legitimate concern, there isn’t any evidence to back up this theory.

In a 2012 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics called “Five-Year Follow-up of Harms and Benefits of Behavioral Infant Sleep Intervention,” the conclusions were that:

“Behavioral sleep techniques have no marked long-lasting effects. Parents and health professionals can confidently use these techniques to reduce the short- to medium-term burden of infant sleep problems and maternal depression.”

According to Toronto Pediatrician Eddy Lau, “There’s a whole school of thought against allowing babies to cry, but it’s not evidence based.”

Cost and Insurance Coverage

Sleep Consultant prices can vary widely depending on the type of service provided, the length of the time commitment, and in what region that service is provided.

Online courses can be purchased for as little as $50. Hourly rates usually start at $75 per hour for relatively new Sleep Consultants and can easily cost as much as $300 per hour for an Expert with 10+ years of experience. Overnight home visits from a Sleep Consultant with extended customer support stretched out over months can cost over $3,000.

Those who have a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) can use their pre-tax income to help defray some of these costs. Unfortunately, most health insurers do not provide health coverage for Sleep Consultants as they consider it an “alternative therapy,” which is not covered by health insurance.

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