When people find out what I do for a living, I usually get 1 of 2 responses: “you’re a sleep consultant? wow, I needed you like 10 years ago” or I get “you’re a sleep consultant? that’s so interesting. can I ask you a question? how do you really get baby to sleep?” No matter what questions I get asked, I generally answer these generic questions with generic answers—“Babies need to sleep, just like they need to feed and they need the comfort of their mother. If I could sum up and package information to give to each family about their child and their child’s sleep, this is what I would come up with:
- Your baby/toddler/child can and will sleep 12 uninterrupted hours in the night. Yes, I said it and yes it’s unbelievable! Especially when you are in the thick of sleep deprivation and you don’t see an end in sight. Why 12 hours and how do I know that it’s possible? 12 hours is the number of hours recommended by baby sleep researchers. These researchers are pediatric medical providers who have conducted thousands of studies that have resulted in a restorative sleep plan for children.
- Sleep trainers are not restricting, we are creating healthy boundaries, rhythms and consistency. No matter how hard you try to fight it, your child is not giving up the routine that helps them remain cool, calm and collected. A lot of parents think that a sleep consultant is going to have them “locked” in a room, tortured and stuck in the house ALL day long. Not the case, children need to learn what is expected of them, especially at bedtime. The setup of a bedtime routine and allowing a sleep environment in your child’s room isn’t restrictive at all. It would actually allow more time for the parent in the evening to tackle whatever tasks that remain for the day. In regards to naps, it can feel like you are on “lock down” and restricted to your home. Most likely if your child is on more than one nap a day, it can be a challenge to get all of their naps in while you have to go out and about. Just remember to do the best that you can, and try to have at least 50% of your child’s naps in their crib and the other 50% can be in a car or wherever.
- Every time that I help one mom, it feels like I can conquer the world. It feels like a pressure of guilt has been released. I’m going to get real with you for a second here. It aches my heart when a mom is struggling with sleep deprivation due to her child not sleeping well because this is preventable. When I consult with a mom and she admits to me that she is resentful of her child or motherhood is not what she expected and it’s weighing on her mental state or she’s going through this alone because dad doesn’t help with the night time duties or she’s got tremendous “mom guilt” because she feels that she’s “damaging” her child because his sleep is all over the place, etc., etc. When I can help relieve this one stress that affects all aspects of her wellbeing, I honestly feel like a hero! I can relate to all of these and I want to help as best that I can.
- I don’t like it when your baby cries either and I strive for minimal crying.-I don’t like it when your baby cries either and I strive for minimal crying. Babies cry and they cry a lot when you look at the broad spectrum of things. Babies cry when they are hungry, when they want to be held, when they want to sleep, etc. The method that I use is not cry it out, but there is still crying involved because there is a disruption in what the baby is used to and crying is a way to communicate displeasure in the process. Fortunately, babies learn quickly and the crying is short lived.
- Sleep training is and can be gentle. There are a few sleep training methods out there and I don’t have an issue with any of them. I tend to create a sleep plan that suits baby’s personality and developmental stage. I take a little from certain methods and develop a product that the parents are involved in also. I rely heavily on mom and how she feels that baby will react to the process because mom knows baby/child best.
- It is worth the investment to have your sanity return…. along with your husband back to your bed…I can’t tell you how many times that I hear “my husband sleeps in the guest room because he has to get full night’s sleep for work”. Once your family dynamic starts to shift because of baby’s lack of ability to get to sleep, then you might want to consider hiring a professional. I don’t think that babies were designed to “flip the house” around and upside down.
- I take on each case with a fresh look. I have a unique skill of hearing the parent’s concern and then in return finding the issue and putting a plan together to resolve it. Every baby that I work with has some kind of prop in which he needs to fall asleep, sometimes two props. Once we find out how baby is getting to sleep, then we can develop a way to resolve the issue.
I hope that you take my confessions and consider how it relates to your child’s sleep ability and reach out for help when you are ready. It’s not shameful, nor are you a “bad mom” if you choose to sleep train your child. All babies need boundaries and guidance navigating this new environment that they are in. It’s our job as parents to be that guiding light for them so that they can navigate with ease.
Tonja Bizor is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and Public Speaker who helps parents
teach their children healthy sleep habits. She specializes in getting children aged 3 months
to 3 years old to sleep 12 hour, uninterrupted nights. She’s helped over 50 families move
from sleep deprived to sleep filled nights.
Tonja offers group seminars and private, one-on-one coaching with families, where she’ll
develops individualized customized sleep plans for parents to follow.
Tonja completed her Masters degree in Psychology with emphasis in Clinical/Counseling.
She studied under Dana Obleman and achieved her coaching Certification with the Sleep
Tonja was a guest on Talk of Alabama on ABC and she’s been featured in numerous
magazines and websites such as Romper , Military One Click , Birmingham Parent Magazine and D r. Laura.