Ever wondered if a sleep consultant could help? Read this!
As a parent to two young children, the topic of sleep is often discussed in our household, and with other parent friends. How much sleep is normal for a toddler? How many naps does your 1 year old take? What’s a decent bed time? Have you considered sleep training? These are all questions that are commonly asked and discussed between us tired, sleep-deprived parents. At some point in time you may have considered hiring a sleep consultant, especially if your child seems to have the most unpredictable nap and sleep schedule.
What is hiring a sleep consultant really like anyway? We sat down with Akira Seuradge, a certified WeeSleep consultant, and picked her brain on common questions and topics of interest, answering many questions that parents ask her upon their first consultation.
If you’ve ever considered hiring a sleep consultant, read the interview below!
Q: What should I expect when I first contact a sleep consultant?
A: I often get connected to my clients via direct message off social media or a quick email request for information. More formally, you are able to book a complimentary 15-Minute Consultation with me through my online calendar where you can choose a time that is most convenient for you. You will be contacted by phone or an agreed upon virtual method. I am here to listen, completely judgement free!
Here are the 3 things you will experience during our first phone consultation:
- We will have 15-minutes to discuss your sleep challenges and if I can help, I will provide a recommendation
- You will be heard! By listening with an open heart and asking questions, I am able to identify your true goals. All babies are different and all families are unique which is why my goal is to offer a solution that is not only specific to your family, but is a solution that you are comfortable with.
- There will be options. I provide a variety of services that are budget friendly and extremely supportive. There is something for everyone!
Q: Can you list some of the most common sleep misconceptions for babies?
A: There are many, but some of the most common are:
- “The longer your keep your baby awake in the day the longer they will sleep at night.” This is so incorrect! The most common reason for frequent wakes is a baby that is overtired. Understanding your baby’s awake and sleep patterns/times is key to ensuring restorative sleep.
- “Formula fed babies sleep better than breast fed babies.” The truth? FED babies sleep better. If a baby is well fed and their nutritional needs are being met, they are able to have longer stretches of restorative sleep.
- “Never wake a sleeping baby.” A sleeping baby is one of the most beautiful things on the planet but when a baby gets too much day time sleep, night time sleep can be impacted. If your baby is napping well into the evening or getting too much day time sleep, it is OK to wake them to ensure night sleep is preserved.
- “You should sleep train from day 1.” Newborn babies are too biologically immature to respond to sleep training right after birth. Your role at this stage is to bond and offer opportunities to sleep. At this stage, I teach gentle sleep shaping techniques until they are ready for more formal sleep conditioning around 4 months and up.
Q: Can you share some of your best advice for new parents?
A: Do not compare your sleep experience to that of another parent. You truly have no idea what it took to get their little one sleeping through the night, and comparing your child’s sleep experience is just unfair! 20-30% of babies have natural difficulties sleeping and just need a bit more support.
Q: What does a sleep consultant/specialist do? What do they do NOT do?
A: My main responsibility as a sleep consultant is to guide and coach parents on how to help their child learn to fall asleep in a peaceful way without assistance. In addition to that, I provide support on sleep environments, daily routines and schedules.
What I am not able to do is modify a child’s internal body clock to wake at a desired time. I work with families to make sleep manageable while first and foremost meeting the organic sleep needs of the child. While an 8pm bedtime and a 7am wake up may be ideal, not all babies operate that way. We all operate on a natural body clock (circadian rhythm) and when this clock is not supported and is thrown out of alignment, that is when sleep can begin to go sideways.
Q: Can you touch upon how important sleep is for a growing baby/child?
A: Sleep is equally as important as nutrition and exercise, especially in growing children. Just as we guide our children to healthy food choices, sleep should be treated the same. Babies need significantly more sleep to support their rapidly growing minds and bodies. Children who sleep 10-12 hours at night wake well-rested, attentive and cheerful – ready to cope with and learn from their environments.
Sleep-deprived children and adults alike have difficulty making decisions and concentrating. Over time this can lead to decreased immune system functionality.
Q: How much sleep is enough for a baby or child?
A: • 0-3 Months: 16-18 hours per day
• 3-6 Months: about 15 hours per day
• 6-12 months: about 14 hours per day
• 12 Months+: 12-13 hours per day
Q: Are there any sleep accessories that you suggest most parents try?
A: Below are some of the basic sleep accessories that I find most helpful. I could go on and on about sleep accessories; feel free to contact me with any further questions!
- A swaddleis an amazing tool to help settle your newborn and prevent their startle (moro) reflex from interrupting their sleep. The swaddle technique is completely safe until your little one’s reflex disappears and they start to turn and roll. At this time it is recommended to remove them from a swaddle that encloses their arms.
- A breathable, all seasons sleep sackthat allows the arms to be free, is going to support body temperature regulation without the use of a blanket (blankets can be a hazard to a younger baby). Note: an optimal room temperature for infants and toddlers is 20-22°C.
- Darknessis the biggest signal that sleep is near. The absence of light actually signals our brains to produce melatonin which is our body’s natural sleep “drug”. More exposure to light can actually delay the onset of melatonin production and also create an overstimulating environment that will work against your little one’s attempt at a restful sleep.
- I also love sound machines! They are safe when used as instructed, and provide a very calming sleep-promoting environment. They buffer out ambient noise to support longer stretches of sleep. Note: I recommend the ‘white noise’ sound, and it should remain on for the duration of sleep.
If you have any questions for Akira, please feel free to contact her any time! A mom to two girls, Akira is well versed in sleep issues, and the effects of sleep (or lack thereof!) on children and their entire family.
Stephanie Casino Esguerra is a wife, mom of two, digital content specialist and founder of the Canadian parenting website LuckyLittleOnes.ca.
When she isn’t working on providing Canadian parents with access to giveaways, product reviews and parenting tips on Lucky Little Ones, you can usually find her working on her next creative project, thrifting, or squeezing in a quick workout. She claims her daily fuel is often in the form of strong coffee and even stronger wifi.