Should You Hire a Sleep Consultant? Everything You Need to Know

A common acceptance of parenthood is that you’re going to be tired. For a while. Babies and kids don’t sleep much, and that’s just the way it is. Welcome to your new normal.

But maybe this isn’t the way it has to be. Could your baby’s sleep (and therefore your own sleep) be improved? 

If you find yourself in a challenging sleep situation, you might be a good candidate to hire a sleep consultant. Babies come with a lot of costs, and you’re probably wondering if it’s worth it to spend the money on a sleep consultant. Or maybe you can wing it and solve the problem on your own. It’s different for everyone, and for some, the cost is well worth it.

They say you can’t put a price on good sleep (or at least that’s what I say as a new — and very tired — mom), so I spoke with sleep consultant Kate Arquilla, MS, RN, CBC and founder of Bumble Baby to get all the details of what it’s like to work with a sleep consultant and why it might be the right move. Kate kicked it off by explaining, “A sleep consultant is not just for the baby. Sleep habits can last a lifetime and start in infancy. Good sleep habits are important for the entire family.”

 

A common acceptance of parenthood is that you’re going to be tired. For a while. Babies and kids don’t sleep much, and that’s just the way it is. Welcome to your new normal. But maybe this isn’t the way it has to be. Could your baby’s sleep (and therefore your own sleep) be improved?

 

How do you know if you need a sleep consultant?

Every parent has a different threshold. It is common that babies don’t sleep well, especially during the early months. However, Aruqilla shares that if your baby is 6 months or older and is waking every two to three hours, is not napping well, and the sleep struggle is negatively impacting your ability to function, these are some signs that hiring a sleep consultant is a good idea.

If you are tired, overwhelmed, and frustrated with your sleep situation, think about how better sleep could positively impact you and your family. If you feel that lack of sleep and lack of routine is making your life chaotic, a sleep consultant can help bring this into order.

 

 

What is the ideal age to work with a sleep consultant?

By the 6-month mark, you will probably have a pretty good handle on whether sleep is going well or not, though you can start working with a sleep consultant much earlier. There is no specific age to work with a sleep consultant, but the earlier you start, the easier it will be. Some parents — usually with their second baby — will even consult a sleep professional before their baby is born to be properly prepared.

Keep in mind that if you’re working with a sleep consultant that implements any form of crying-it-out, this shouldn’t begin until 12 weeks of age. However, if you’re struggling with sleep after month one, it’s not too early or too late. Once babies are 2 weeks old and are properly gaining weight, you can begin to work on routines and sleep.

 

If you are tired, overwhelmed, and frustrated with your sleep situation, think about how better sleep could positively impact you and your family. If you feel that lack of sleep and lack of routine is making your life chaotic, a sleep consultant can help bring this into order.

 

What do sleep consultants do?

There are a few different methods that sleep consultants follow, as well as different processes. Arquilla is certified with Moms on Call, which institutes the self-soothe method (after 12 weeks of age).  Taking Cara Babies is another popular method, which is focused on creating a healthy sleep foundation using developmentally appropriate strategies.

Depending on the certification and the consultant, the process will vary. With Arquilla and Moms on Call, the process will begin with an introduction call so she can learn about the baby and parents, what’s going on with sleep issues, and to get a feel for the situation. She can also do in-home consultants, which is helpful as she can see the baby face-to-face, learn the baby’s personality, and identify other potential issues (like flat-head syndrome, jaundice, or other things that might be impacting the baby). Arquilla will also asses the current sleep situation to ensure it’s a safe environment.

From there, the next steps depend on the baby’s age. For younger babies, it might involve swaddling and sound machines, whereas for an older baby (older than 4 months), the work will revolve around the baby learning to self-soothe. Arquilla will work with the family on a custom care plan for the parents to follow and then will provide follow-ups via check-in calls and texts, allowing everyone to troubleshoot as they go.

With Moms on Call (and for many other sleep consultant programs), hiring a sleep consultant does not mean someone comes to your house and takes the lead on getting your baby to sleep through the night. Instead, they are guiding the parents to learn how to create good sleep habits and putting the elements into practice.

Taking Cara Babies, on the other hand, is an online course that must be taken before phone consultations can be added on.

 

 

How do you find the right sleep consultant for your family?

When deciding on a sleep consultant, there are many elements to consider. Some programs are online with a phone element added on (like Taking Cara Babies), while other options are more hands-on and customized to you and your baby. As you review prices, also consider how long it covers and if it includes unlimited follow-ups and communication. For some parents, this may be important, while for others the sleep situation might seem like an easier solve.

Some consultants offer quick 15 minute or hour-long calls. These might be a good place to start if you simply have a list of questions you’d like addressed without a fully customized program.

You should ask plenty of questions to get a good understanding of what type of method the consultant uses. If they are a full cry-it-out system and that doesn’t jive with your parenting style, then that might not be the right fit for you. Different approaches work better for different families, and this will depend on your parenting style and where you fall on the sleep spectrum.

 

Different approaches work better for different families, and this will depend on your parenting style and where you fall on the sleep spectrum.

 

What certifications do sleep consultants require?

Again, this is different for each program, but make sure you ask and understand how the consultants are certified. For example, Moms on Call consultants must be nurses. This is beneficial as they can recognize various issues at play beyond standard sleep struggles. If you think there might be an issue like sleep apnea, airway issues, or reflux, this may be a good path to go down.

Taking Cara Babies consultants are certified through a sleep consultant program endorsed by either the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants or the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants. Many consultants also have degrees in nursing, infant and childhood development, or child psychology.

 

Source: @mrsjenfrick

 

How much does it cost to hire a sleep consultant?

Prices will vary depending on where you live, what type of service/help you are looking for, and how hands-on an approach you want.

To give you an idea of ranges, the Taking Cara Babies online sleep course (not customized) ranges from $74 (newborn course) to $179 (5-24 months), then is an additional $75 for 40-minute personal consult phone calls. Arquilla’s prices range from $2 a minute (or $20 for three questions) for FaceTime/phone chats for quick questions (if you do not feel that a full consultation is necessary) to $600 for virtual sleep consultation (with three months of support), up to $800 for in-home consulting (with three months of support).

 

No matter where you are in your sleep journey, keep in mind that it is never too early or too late to improve your sleep situation. If you are struggling with sleep, it doesn’t mean that you or your baby has failed, it may just mean that you need extra help to get things into a good flow. Hiring a sleep consultant might be the first step to finding some much-needed peace at night.

 

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