What to do when your baby / child won’t sleep

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If you are a parent of a young child, then we do not need to tell you that sleep challenges can be one of the most taxing aspects of parenting. Many parents accept the bone tired feeling that is expected with a newborn, but what happens when your baby is 6 months old, 9 months old, 18 months old or 3 years old and older and you still are not getting close to enough sleep? What then? Often parents talk to their pediatrician, read books and websites, ask other parents. But this often confuses people more because everyone offers conflicting advice; it is difficult to choose a strategy and to know exactly how to implement it. Maybe you feel as though you have tried everything and nothing has worked. Perhaps you and your partner are at odds about how to handle the problem and you find yourselves up in the night arguing over what to do.

Hiring a professional sleep consultant is an option that many families don’t know even exists. Working with an experienced sleep consultant improves results because there is so much more to sleep than just the approach. Development, schedule, environment, routines and approach are all reviewed and mapped out to support success. Here are some things a sleep consultant will address that can make all the difference:

1. Expectations: The amount and duration a baby or child sleeps changes many times from birth to early childhood. A reliable sleep consultant will have sound knowledge of infant and child development and will be able to guide you on realistic sleep expectations for your baby or young child.

2. Information overload: It can be daunting to filter through the mass amounts of information that is posted and published regarding babies and sleep. A reliable sleep consultant will be able to do some of the filtering for you. In addition, they will learn about your child and your family and can answer questions specific to your unique challenges and circumstances.

3. Strategies not working: One of the most common things we hear from clients is, “we’ve tried everything and nothing has worked.” Contrary to popular belief, there are many different strategies that can work to get your child to go to sleep and stay asleep. Consistency is the key ingredient in any successful approach. We find parents may give up too soon on any one approach. A sleep consultant will give you a realistic timeline regarding how soon you will see changes once you begin implementing a strategy. The time line will depend on the style of plan and on the individual child.

4. Parents who disagree: A professional sleep consultant can be a great third party for a couple who is in disagreement with how to approach the problem. We do not make our best decisions in the middle of the night with only a couple of hours sleep. This is exactly what so many parents find themselves doing night after night. Working with a sleep consultant will help parents create a pro-active plan to follow so each parent knows the approach and response to use night after night.

Sleep consultants are not one size fits all. Some specialize in just one approach, while others offer a variety of strategies. Some consultants work in your home, while others offer virtual consultations via skype and telephone. Sleep consultants also have a variety of backgrounds from nursing and healthcare to education and psychology for example. As is true with working with any professional, finding someone you trust is key.

At Early Parenting Partners we pride ourselves with matching a plan to a family while also considering the needs and temperament of the child. If you think you would benefit from a phone based sleep consult please contact us. If you are looking for something different you can find more sleep support @ Internationalsleep.org . This is the homepage for The Association of Professional Sleep Consultants where you can find a list of sleep consultants from across the world.


Kristen Carhart

Kristen relies on her many years of experience, as well as her education and background, to create individualized sleep or specified parenting support for every family she works with. She enjoys living in a small town north of Boston with her husband, son and daughter.


Joanna Silvermann

Joanna is an educator, holistic health counselor and mother of two young children. She has 15 years of teaching experience with children from infancy to 18 yrs of age, focusing the last 4 years consulting schools and young families.

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