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How To Get A Baby To Sleep: Hire A Professional?

At eight and five years of age, my daughters are solid sleepers. They almost never fuss when it’s time to go to bed and they rarely wake during the night. 

But they weren’t always good sleepers. In fact, my older daughter went through a long, difficult period of colic (for lack of a better word) from around 2 weeks to 5 months during which it took us hours to get her to sleep at night. 

On most nights, my husband snuggled her into the Baby Bjorn and wandered the streets of Manhattan’s East Village until she finally fell asleep. And then, once we finally settled her into her crib, she’d wake up 45 minutes later, seemingly just to torture my husband and I some more. I was hormonal and exhausted and willing to try almost anything to get her to sleep. And yet we never considered hiring a sleep consultant.

I’ve heard that people swear by sleep consultants, but the idea of bringing in a professional to tell us how to get our baby to sleep seemed a bit excessive (not to mention expensive).

I had assumed that the recession put a crimp into the sleep training business, but according to The Los Angeles Times, that’s not the case. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Business is booming, in part, because parents are increasingly overwhelmed and confused by the glut of conflicting advice and information on the Internet. Is the cry-it-out sleep method harmful? Is it okay to nurse a baby to sleep? It depends on whom you ask. Fearful that they’ll do the “wrong” thing, parents no longer trust their own instincts when it comes to their getting their children to sleep.

“Every six months, the winds of child-rearing philosophy change,” said Brandi Rouse, a sleep consultant, tells The L.A. Times. “There is so much information out there that it keeps people from using their intuition. I tell parents all these things will work; it’s about figuring out what works for your family.”

Sleep consultants are just one of a slew of experts and coaches available to parents. There are coaches who will help you get along with your teenager and another coach who can help you communicate with your nanny, according to another story in The Los Angeles Times.

“Having a kid is just so overwhelming. They’re so vulnerable. People get really scared, and there’s an industry preying on their fears,” former Babble editor Ada Calhoun, author of “Instictive Parenting,” told The L.A. Times.

A lot of the advice the sleep consultants dole out sounds like common sense, but parents today need some hand-holding and reassurance. Some of their tips include: dim the lights, don’t make eye contact in the middle of the night, and develop a nighttime routine and stay consistent.

A sleep consultant’s services could run from services generally run $200 to $800. Calhoun said she knows of a sleep consultant who charges $1000 a night. Not surprisingly, consultants say they are mostly hired by driven (apparently wealthy) professionals, mostly in their late 30s and early 40s.

“Before I had kids, a friend of mine told me she was going to hire a sleep consultant and I thought, ‘What’s wrong with these people? You think it should come naturally,’” said Valeria Van Brummelen, who wound up hiring a sleep consultant herself when her daughter was 9 months old. “Maybe there’s too much information out there, but I was very confused. I don’t know why we need to pay for these things, but we did.”

Did you have trouble figuring out how to get your baby to sleep? If so, did you hire a sleep consultant?

flickr/seanmcgee

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