At your Wits End?

Shawnee Baker, Advanced Nurturing

I know what it’s like to have sleepless nights!


Overwhelmed with information and conflicting advice, parents often turn to professionals to solve their sleep issues. When it comes to getting healthy sleep there’s a lot to consider! Many parents look for answers in sleep books and attempt common sleep methodologies without success. Besides removing sleep associations parents need to consider other factors such as emotional wellness, biology, behavior, nutrition, activity, play, exercise, developmental stage, temperament, and parenting styles. The logistics of the family and the unique dynamics involved, plays a key role in how children sleep. Although parents come to me with the goal of better sleep, the bigger goal ultimately, is for optimal brain development and emotional wellness!

Many parents are exhausted and frustrated, too busy with work schedules and family demands to research the endless sea of articles available online to help them get better sleep! During these early years, sleep matters more than you think. Studies have shown that babies and toddlers who sleep through the night have better emotional regulation, capture experiences more readily and are capable of learning more efficiently. Finding the right balance is necessary with sleep coaching, you must avoid compromising one need for another! 

Although getting babies to sleep can be challenging and stressful for families, there seems to be some opinion in general, about what sleep coaching is and why anyone needs this service. I often wonder what it is about sleep coaching that so many people feel uncomfortable about? Is it the false belief that all sleep coaches insist on crying and leaving babies? Perhaps it’s the thought of sacrificing one need for another like having to give up night feeds or precious cuddle time? I’m here to put an end to all the assumptions, confusion and misunderstanding. Sleep coaching is anything but!! 

Certified sleep coaches come from many different backgrounds with various degrees. All of them have a passion for helping others and care a great deal about babies! Many sleep coaches like myself have a medical background in child development.  Sleep coaching can include co-sleeping, attachment parenting, breastfeeding on demand and occasional holding for sleep. It is NOT a one size fits all solution and can be done gently without crying through positive connections and daytime lessons. 

Generations before us managed many sleepless nights and accepted that babies just don't sleep! Some people say that today’s generation is selfish for wanting sleep and hiring a sleep coach. The truth is anything but! In fact it’s selfish to avoid spending what you would on a new pair of shoes or the equivalent of two dinners out, to get professional help when your baby won’t sleep! 

Consolidated sleep is important for your baby’s health and well being. Besides promoting brain development, there are many other advantages for baby’s who can sleep well. In a demanding world where education is so important and academic performance matters more than ever, sleep isn't just a luxury it’s a must, for early learning in today’s generation. Let’s not forget that we once allowed children to eat sugary cereal everyday, but because we know better and encourage nutrition food instead our kids have higher academic scores. Shouldn't we learn form the past and recognize the benefits of healthy sleep today?

So the next time you think about a sleep coach and fluff it off as an unnecessary profession, pleaseconsider the number of new professions that have evolved in the past twenty years. Perhaps parenting deserves more support and professional advice these days. Maybe then mothers wouldn't feel helpless or pressured to “do it all alone!” You are not a failure as a mother because you reach out for help, in fact just the opposite! Commend those who seek advice early, who are proactive and aren't afraid to ask for help when they need it! I hope our society begins to value parenting as much as we value other professions. Perhaps one day we will realize that parents need education and support for the most important job they’ll ever have!