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I Hired a Sleep Consultant and Here’s What Happened

posted: 08/25/16
by: Katherine Sosnoff
sleep consultant
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When you have a newborn, there is an incredible emphasis placed on baby's sleep, and with good reason. Sleep deprivation is no joke and after months and months of late nights and early mornings, all a new parent wants is a few hours of uninterrupted shuteye.

My son was never a great sleeper but around five months, things turned from bad to worse. He began to resist being put to sleep at night and for naps and would only stay asleep for maybe two hours at a time. I had wrongly assumed sleep would be linear, in that he would begin sleeping better and better as more and more time went by, so the latest developments were truly a crushing blow to my dreams of being reunited with my pillow.

After purchasing an infinite number of books on baby sleep (I would read the glowing Amazon reviews and decide that this book would actually be the one to turn everything around), I realized I was both extremely educated on baby sleep and completely confused as to how to proceed. I decided that I needed to call in a professional.

In an act of desperation, I started doing some research on sleep consultants. I actually had no idea that such a thing existed until I read the "About the Author" section of one of my baker's dozen sleep books and discovered that the sleep guru who penned it held that professional title. It seemed, there was actually a huge market for sleep consultants. There are some 'famous' ones that have written books, some who are part of a franchise, some online consultants, some in-person. There are people you can hire to stay with you and literally "sleep train" your baby for you. There are people you can pay to email with. There are people who will come to your house and critique your baby's sleep environment.

My husband was at once skeptical of a sleep consultant and sympathetic to my exhaustion (while also slowly dying inside due to lack of sleep himself). I could tell he thought I was slightly nuts for considering this but he went along with it because he is a good sport and because there was frankly no stopping me in my quest for sleep. We decided we would go for it: what did we have to lose?

We hired a local consultant who had rave reviews. Our "package" included a home visit and six weeks of follow up either via phone call or email, as we implemented her methods. I anxiously awaited for the magic to follow, certain I had missed something in Ferber's tome or the Baby Whisperer's guide that would be the key to finally getting some rest.

But, here's the thing - and this is this in no way a knock to the woman we hired. She was lovely, smart and helpful. But I had read all the books. I knew my son best. I didn't learn anything new about infant sleep (I'm not kidding, I have to hold myself back from talking about sleep regressions and sleep cycles when in casual conversation with new parents so I don't freak them out). Instead, she gave me the confidence to do what the books said, which was to gently sleep train our son. She gave us an array of options I already knew about based on the umpteenth books and blogs I had read. I chose what I knew would work best based on our son's temperament. In the end, I knew what we had to do and just ended up needing someone to coach me through the process. Maybe it's my personality, or perhaps it's a 'first time mom' thing, but I lacked the confidence to realize that actually, I was the expert in this situation (dealing with my child) and I could have handled this just fine by myself.

Would I do it again? Yes, because I had to hire her to realize there is no magic bullet - for baby sleep or anything. Babies are babies, not robots. Like adults, some sleep well, some don't. Some of the sleep consultant's advice worked, some of it didn't. My son seemed to just need a little time and some gentle nudging to get there, which deep down, I am sure I also knew. Not every baby sleeps through the night at three months old and apparently, if you can get through those exhausting first months, that's ok. I am happy to report that he is now sleeping 12 hours a night, napping like a champ and we won't be hiring a sleep consultant again.