9 surprising things about working with a sleep consultant

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We did it. We hired a sleep consultant to help with Heidi’s sleep issues. We’ve been suffering with 4 AM waking, short or non-existent naps, and frequent hysterical wake ups for far too long. Heidi was clearly sleep deprived. Jesse and I were exhausted and frustrated. After almost a year of suffering with these issues, we decided a sleep consultant was our last best hope. I had no idea how much – or how quickly – working with a sleep consultant would change our lives!

Based on some great recommendations, we decided to work with Dr. Rebecca Kempton of Baby Sleep Pro. Dr. Kempton is really friendly, understanding, and tremendously supportive. She created a personalized step-by-step plan for helping Heidi to sleep better, and, perhaps even more important, she gave us the confidence and encouragement to put it into place. For that, I’m beyond grateful!

Here are 9 surprising things I learned working with Dr. Kempton:

  1. A HUGE change is possible, even in a short timeframe. In less than a week’s time, Heidi went from getting less than 10 hours of sleep and waking at 4 AM to sleeping 12 hours straight and sleeping until 6 AM or later. Seriously.
  2. Consistency is crucial to success. Sticking to the plan got us the results we wanted, and even quicker than we imagined. Seeing my child wake with a smile on her face because she was well rested was so worth it!
  3. A basic tool can work like magic. We used an “Okay to Wake” sleep training clock that turns green at the time we choose, so Heidi knows when it’s okay to get up.
  4. It’s not necessary to use food or screen time as rewards. We used the simple reward of getting to put a marble in a jar when she had a good night, and it actually motivated Heidi to stay in bed (and ultimately sleep) longer.
  5. Talking about it works wonders. I completely underestimated the power of TALKING to Heidi and getting her buy-in when things start to go off track. We need to keep that in mind in the future!
  6. Naps are not as fragile as I thought. I always used to rush to Heidi at the first peep during nap time, even if she had only napped for 40 minutes. Now, if she wakes up early from her nap and cries a bit, I just wait a few minutes to see what will happen. Most days, she actually stops crying within 5 minutes and goes back to bed herself, AND she wakes up refreshed an hour or more later, with no tears!
  7. Heidi’s hysterical waking was a sign of severe sleep deprivation. The screamy wake ups all but disappeared once Heidi started getting enough sleep. Man, I wish I had known THAT a year ago! When she’s well-rested, Heidi actually wakes up happy!
  8. Parents have bad habits, too. Mine was using the car as a nap crutch. I would let Heidi fall asleep for naps in the car on the way home, then transfer her to bed asleep. I really fought against changing this, because I doubted my ability to get her to go to bed at nap time. But I worked on it, and now Heidi happily goes to sleep in her own bed at nap time, no crutches needed.
  9. Setbacks will happen, and that’s okay. Heidi had three amazing nights after less than a week of working on her sleep. I got complacent and thought, “Look at us, we did it!” The following week, however, she got a cold and had some rough nights. But we were able to get her back on track by talking with her and being consistent.

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My mind is BLOWN. I honestly didn’t know if it would be possible at all to get Heidi to stay in bed past 4 am. It just seemed like too big of a jump. But she made amazing progress, in way less time than I would have expected. If I had to do it all over again, I would NOT have hesitated to reach out for help. I wish I had called Dr. Kempton a year ago, when Heidi’s sleep started to go seriously haywire. We could have saved ourselves so much suffering, and had a whole year of better sleep for it!

Have you worked with a sleep consultant? How did it go for you?

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8 Responses to 9 surprising things about working with a sleep consultant

  1. Nadine says:

    We used a sleep training consultant and guide books from the time F was about 6 months old – it has worked amazingly well for us and I would recommend it to anyone! Even now, after 3 years, we still go back to the sleep consultant’s advice and guide books any time we experience changes (developmental or household) or problems (i.e. travel). Congratulations you guys – it’s hard work but it’s worth it 🙂

    • Mama Mgeni says:

      We used a great sleep book (Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) that we love, since Claire was an infant, but we needed some reinforcement for Heidi! I’m so glad we did – I only wish we’d done it sooner!

  2. So glad to hear that is working well for you. My kids are all teen or above now but it would be interesting to think about the cross cultural context and family culture. I think that has a lot to do with sleep patterns. My husband and I both grew up in fairly lackadaisical farm families and neither of us had regulated naps so we never taught our kids to nap. Only one of the four “gave” herself naps. I don’t know what that did to their sleep patterns but would be interesting to find out if someone has studied it.

  3. Natasha says:

    Wow, well done! So happy for all four of you!
    Great tips, too. x

  4. Sylvia says:

    Wow happy for you !My almost 7 year old has slept slept a min of 10 hrs since he ate his first meal at 6 months! I though it was normal but from what I hear from friends and now reading this i now understand it can be a problem.
    One this I adhere to is the same sleeping time on Sun-Thur 7.30 pm sharp whether he is sleepy or not! I put him in bed and he can sing or do whatever till he falls asleep. On Fridays and Saturdays he sleeps whenever he wishes sometimes even later than me. He is happier with 10-11 hours of sleep.
    Best !

  5. Anne-Marie says:

    Wow congrats and glad to know that there is a solution my 17 month old wakes up between 12 and 4 am and will not sleep unless he’s in my bed. As a result I’m an exhausted mess. Will look into this thanks

  6. Anne-Marie says:

    Thanks! I need all the luck with sleep issues plus wondering how to stop breastfeeding. I’m hoping he’ll stop on his own.

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