WHAT TO ASK WHEN HIRING A SLEEP CONSULTANT
- Find an expert baby sleep consultant that understands you and your family.
It’s important to feel comfortable with the sleep consultant that you choose. Choose a baby sleep consultant that takes into consideration your personal beliefs, who understands your child’s temperament and your parenting style.
- Check out their qualifications and experience.
Private baby sleep consultants or specialists is an industry that is currently NOT regulated in Australia. Please make sure that you do your homework to ensure the child sleep specialist has the qualifications, extensive training and experience to help you and your baby or toddler. If they are 'certified', ask and check carefully what this means. Be sure to check reviews, Facebook reviews or even ask for a few referrals. There are many people who claim to be ‘experts’ by just completing an international online course. So be sure to do your research.
Some questions to ask:
- What are your credentials? What type of training do you have?
Check to see if the sleep specialist is certified through a reputable child sleep consultancy course. Research the training that they have completed and ensure that the training is in line with your values and parenting style. Remember, every baby, toddler or child’s sleep situation is unique and therefore your baby sleep consultant should be tailoring a sleep plan to fit your baby/child and family situation.
- What detail of training have they completed?
There are different types of training programs, some more in-depth than others, so ask what areas of training they have studied, such as infant sleep, the science of sleep, sleep needs for babies, mental health and medical issues.
- What other qualifications or professional background do they have?
It is always a good idea to ask what other experience or background they have. Most certified consultants have some sort of qualification or background that relates to babies or children. You will find that most sleep consultants have a health, medical or science background, such as nursing, psychology, maternity health nursing, midwifery, mothercraft nursing, early childhood experience, infant health, teaching or social work, which are just some of the many examples. These type of backgrounds and experience may help a baby sleep consultant pick up on other issues that may be at play with yourself or your baby.
- How do they continue to education themselves and how do they keep up with the latest research?
There is always new research based on baby sleep and baby development, so it is important that your sleep consultant is aware and educated on the latest research when it comes to baby sleep.
- What ongoing support will you receive?
It is important to understand what the process will look like if you have questions or need advice, and how quickly the sleep consultant will get back to you.
- What support will they give you if the strategies they suggest don't work?
If you’ve exhausted all strategies and solutions, it can be extremely frustrating to not have any results. It’s helpful to understand what types of options you have moving forward with your baby sleep consultant.
- Understand what type of methods/techniques may be used on your child.
Baby Sleep consultants will use a range of different methods/strategies, and it’s important you understand what these are. It is important that you ask the baby sleep consultant on the type of methods and strategies that they may use. Nobody understands your child more than you, so make sure the sleep consultant and your baby or child are a good match and you are comfortable with the methods being used.
- The cry it out debate.
There is a perception that sleep training means letting your baby or child do lots of crying alone, this is known as controlled crying or cry it out (CIO). This is not the case at all and any experienced sleep consultant would not support this method. Instead, there are several other methods that are gentle and give babies and children comfort and security when teaching them new sleeping skills. In saying this, no baby sleep consultant can guarantee that your baby or child will not cry or protest a little with any new method.
Crying is a child’s way of protesting change, and you can expect that when you change their sleep habit, that it will result in resistance. You need to feel comfortable with how the sleep consultant plans to manage the protesting. Be clear with the sleep consultant on what you are prepared to allow. Be prepared that different methods may be used on your baby/child depending on their personality and temperament. Ensure that you are comfortable with the method/technique being used and that you understand why your baby or child is responding that way.
- Be sure to rule out any medical issues.
Some sleep issues with babies may relate to an underlying medical problem. Be sure to discuss with your doctor prior to making an appointment with a baby sleep consultant. If your child does have a medical issue such as reflux, be sure to find a baby sleep consultant who has experience in this area.
- Be committed to the new program.
You’ll be wasting your money and time if you can’t commit to the new routine or methods used on your baby/child. Feel confident that you have done your research, now trust in yourself and be committed, or it just won’t work. It’s not meant to be easy, but it will be worth it.
- Trust and follow your mamma instincts.
You know your child better than anyone. I encourage you to trust and listen to your instincts, if something doesn’t feel right, a good sleep consultant will listen to your concerns and work with you as best they can.
- Your Free 10 or 15 min phone consult.
A good baby sleep consultant or specialist will offer a 10 or 15 free phone consultation. Take this opportunity to ask as many questions as you can, maybe you just need some advice, maybe you need some guidance. A good sleep consultant will make the time to listen to you and may be able to identify and discuss some reasons why your baby might not be sleeping.
- It is about you too.
Whilst the consultant will do an assessment on your baby or child sleep problems, I think it is important that a sleep consultant completes an assessment on you, the main parent. Talk to the sleep consultant about your current home environment, this should include your current health, how you are coping, how you are feeling, how you are interacting with and responding to your baby. This is important because your well-being can make a big difference in successfully helping your baby or toddler to sleep.