The world is full of information and advice about babies, especially in this internet age. You can learn what to expect in your baby’s development each month. There are whole books on what and how much and when to feed your baby. And there is certainly a lot of information available on the web and in print on your baby’s sleep. But let’s be honest, having all of this information can also be overwhelming. How do you decide if your baby is ready or what method to use? Which is the best book or website or approach for your family?
Even if none of your friends have used a sleep coach to get their children to sleep well – there are situations where a sleep coach can be a worthwhile investment. Sometimes we face challenges that feel harder and more complicated than a book or even friendly advice can solve – and we need help!
So why would you hire a sleep coach? When is it really worth having a person to walk and talk you through the process of sleep training your child? Consider these 9 reasons to hire a coach when you need help with your child’s sleep:
1. Your baby is under 6 months old
If your baby is under 6 months old and you aren’t sure if they’re ready for full sleep training, a sleep coach can be just the person to talk to. You may realize that your baby’s sleep needs to improve somehow but be unsure of what methods work for very young babies or what age it’s appropriate to start. Did you know that:
- Most babies under 6 months of age have a very limited ability to soothe themselves and are still dependent on mom or dad to quiet them down enough to fall asleep?
- Babies commonly experience a big sleep regression around 4 months old when their sleep patterns become very irregular.
A certified Gentle Sleep Coach can assess whether your 4-6 month old baby is ready for sleep training and if not, offer you some tips and soothing strategies you can use until they are ready. A Gentle Sleep Coach can also provide you with realistic expectations if your baby is under 4 months so you know what to focus on and what to let go of.
2. You want to change your baby’s sleep habits slowly
If you are very concerned about how much your child cries, you may be focused on finding a way to sleep coach them that is gentle and gradual. You may know that controlled crying or gradual extinction, as in the Ferber method, is not for you or that you aren’t interested in a Cry It Out approach. But what approach can you use? A sleep coach can make a plan that matches your parenting style. They can also be helpful because, in general, a gradual approach takes longer. Consistency is essential to sleep coaching success and it can be difficult to stick to your coaching strategies over a longer period of time.
- Talking to your sleep coach along the way can help you avoid creating new sleep crutches.
- Having the personal support of a coach can help keep you moving forward at a pace you’re comfortable with.
3. You tried sleep coaching and it didn’t work
Maybe you tried sleep coaching before without success. Maybe you hit a speed bump and didn’t know what to do. Sleep coaching doesn’t always happen in a straight line of progress from start to finish and there can be obstacles along the way for both parent and child.
Perhaps your baby got sick in the middle of coaching? Or you were overwhelmed with how to drop night time feedings? Or end co-sleeping? Or you felt there was more crying than you expected and you felt like you were “doing something wrong”.
Working with a coach to help you strategize and support you throughout the process can be your secret to success- especially after multiple failed sleep coaching attempts. Getting extra support and fresh, objective eyes to look at your situation and how to change it can be just the thing your family needs to finally sleep coach successfully.
4. You have a toddler or preschooler and you are at your wits end
Sleep coaching is challenging, plain and simple. But age, developmental stage, temperament and how long a pattern has been in place can affect how challenging the process is. Toddlers and preschoolers can be, let’s face it, significantly more challenging to sleep coach than babies between 6months and 18 months of age. Some of the difficulty is simply because they are more mobile.
Does he insist that you lay down next to him to go to sleep? Or does she delay, asking for more water, more songs, or to twirl your hair for an hour before she’ll close her eyes? Maybe your child fights bedtime and is still waking up multiple times – slipping out of their bed and down the hall to yours. Being consistent through the coaching process is critical for children of any age. Since it can take longer to coach toddlers and preschoolers, sticking with a plan can be hard and a sleep coach can support you in staying consistent until you’ve reached your sleep coaching goals.
5. You want to night wean and end co-sleeping with your toddler or preschooler
Has your toddler or preschooler slept with you since babyhood and now you’d like to move them to their own space? It’s more difficult to change a habit a child has had for years instead of months and to impose your wants on a child who has developed clear wants of their own – and the words and behavior to let you know how they feel about it! Nursing at night and co sleeping are BIG habits for preschoolers and toddler. You may face tears and tantrums as you move them to their own room or take nursing out of their nighttime routine. As you move him out of your bed and into a bed of his own, you may face the double whammy problem of a child that can get out of his room but is too young to understand your instructions to stay in bed. Making a clear plan and having realistic expectations of the process and support during it can make sleep coaching successful instead of just stressful and a trained sleep coach can help you with all of it.
6. There are unique circumstances affecting your child’s sleep
Do you travel a lot, have a unique work schedule, or have multiple caregivers for your baby?
Most books, blogs and friendly advice about getting babies to sleep well assume a certain predictability to their schedule and are based on a generic set of family circumstances. While there are certain common strategies for teaching babies to sleep better, they can be tailored to each family! A sleep coach can help you design a flexible routine that includes naps, an age appropriate bedtime and soothing pre-sleep routine that works for your situation – even if you
- Travel frequently and your baby sleeps in different locations often.
- Your child has multiple caregivers.
- You work irregular hours and want to spend time with your baby before or after work.
Even when your family’s circumstances don’t fit the mold of most sleep books and advice, a sleep coach can help you pull all the pieces together into a customized sleep plan that will help you teach your child to be a great sleeper.
7. Your baby or child has medical or feeding issues
Do you need a customized plan that factors in your child’s doctor’s treatment recommendations?
Sleep is a biological function of the body and if your baby faces any medical issues that make it hard for them to feed, breathe, or digest properly their sleep may be affected. Knowing what to expect from a baby with a medical issue in terms of their sleep can be confusing and make other sources like books, blogs, and the advice of friends or family feel like they don’t apply to you. A Gentle Sleep Coach can work with you to make a plan that is flexible and sensitive to your baby’s issues.
May be you need to leave nap coaching for later. Or your baby with reflux need to sleep more elevated until their reflux is under better control? Maybe you have to keep an extra feeding at night until other feeding issues are resolved. A sleep coach can help you factor all these needs into your plan.
8. You are a single parent and need emotional or physical support
Sleep coaching babies and children is hard work and usually means less rest for parents in the short term. It can also mean more tears for babies and doing it all alone is HARD! Whether you are a single parent or you parent on your own often because your partner travels frequently or is deployed, it means facing the emotional strain of sleep coaching and the extra sleep deprivation alone. A sleep coach can be available to check in with you in the morning after a tough night and to help you troubleshoot questions you have about naps or how to support your baby or child while they are learning the skill of putting themselves to sleep. In other words, a sleep coach may offer the emotional support you need to get through sleep coaching successfully! Everybody could use a sleep buddy at some point!
9. You have twins or multiples
All families run into sleep challenges at some point. But if you’re parenting twins or multiples you may face double – or triple, or more! – sleep issues. A sleep coach can help you get your babies’ schedules synchronized so that naps and nights have a pattern you can handle. They are also trained to help understand how your babies’ unique temperaments may affect how they sleep – one approach may not work for both or all of your babies! It IS possible to get twins and multiples sleeping well but there’s often more to consider than when sleep coaching a single baby and support from a Gentle Sleep Coach can help you see the way forward clearly.
There are hundreds of reasons to need extra help when you’re raising a family – and we believe sleep challenges can be one of them! No matter what your family’s unique needs are, a Gentle Sleep Coach can create a plan and support you thru the process so your whole family can have better sleep.