Question to Helen Sands: Do you recommend a particular sleep training method?
A: There are so many factors in determining which sleep training method will be best for your family. In saying that, there is no one perfect approach or one perfect method. There are many mitigating factors that will affect your child’s sleep. Over more than 30 years, I have discovered what works and what does not work, for different age groups and different sleep issues. It is important to me that you, as parents, are confident no matter what time of day or night. I don’t want you to doubt yourselves in the middle of the night as to whether your child is waking out of habit, or waking for a genuine need, or waking because something is genuinely wrong. I will help you take the guess work out of sleep training. My goal is to minimize the tears and ensure you reach your goals.
Q to Helen Sands: Is there a perfect age to work with you?
A: No there isn’t really. The perfect time for sleep training is when you feel like your family unit is not at its happiest. If you have exhausted all efforts yourselves and are still exhausted and frustrated at your child’s lack of progress with sleep, it’s time to reach out for help. Or, there is nothing wrong with pre-empting problems. Some clients simply engage my services because they would feel more confident having me guide them in how to set up their child for great sleep.
Q to Helen Sands: How long before I see improvements in my child’s sleep?
A: Usually, sleep training success comes in under 10 nights. In saying that, there are many many occasions where a baby is sleep trained a few days into the process. Many parents get fearful and believe their child is going to cry and scream for days and nights on end. This is not the case and with my gentle sleep coaching method and settling techniques, your child will understand what you expect within the first 3 days and as each day goes by, with absolute consistency, great progress can be made. No consultant can say a baby or child is 100% sleep training in (say) under 48 hours or under 72 hours and so on. There are just too many anomalies. However, with your commitment and being 100% predictable and consistent to your child, you will achieve your goals very quickly. I work with families all the time where their child is fully sleep trained in under one week! It’s quite amazing really, when you consider you may be undoing the habits of your baby’s’ lifetime!
Q to Helen Sands: Do you work with multiples?
A: Yes all the time! As a mother of twins myself, I am constantly working with multiples. Whether your twins are in separate rooms or sharing a room, they too can experience great sleep, and so can the parents!
Q to Helen Sands: What is the 4 month sleep regression?
A: I hear parents reference this constantly. I personally don’t believe it exists. What “does” exist, is somewhere between age 3 months and 6 months, babies become more aware of their surroundings. They also are experiencing great strides in their development. They begin to roll over on to their tummies and become stronger and more mobile. This can be a challenging time but we can navigate it very easily and great improvements can be made. Similarly, there are a few other times when babies or toddlers are experiencing mental and physical development that may interfere with sleep. Everything can be navigated for optimal results, and I have many tools to offer during those times.
Q to Helen Sands: Will my baby have to cry and cry?
A: Often, the baby’s personality will dictate how much (or how little) she cries. Even with gentle methods there can be some crying. Babies become confused when you change things. If there is one thing babies hate, its change! But if there is one thing I hear back from parents when discussing how the first night or two went, it’s that the parents wish they had taken steps long before now, and that they are genuinely surprised at how well it went. Babies would love things to stay just as they are! What counts most is what you do during the crying. If you simply do nothing, it’s abandonment. I would never suggest that and you will give your baby tons of love, cuddles, reassurance and comfort during the changes. Don’t let anyone pressure you into leaving your baby or child to scream and cry for hours. There simply is no need to do so.
Q to Helen Sands: What types of issues do you work with?
A: I offer assistance with the following problems (but not limited to)
• Night wakings
• Sleep associations (often called “crutches” or “props” that your child “needs” to get to sleep)
• Bedtime routines
• Short naps
• Early rising
• Child repeatedly leaves the bed
• Transition to big bed or toddler bed
• Weaning night feeds
• Nightmares vs. night terrors
• Nursery set up for optimal sleep
Q to Helen Sands: As parents, we cannot agree on how to proceed. Help!
I have worked with many parents over the years that are in total disagreement on how to help their little one sleep better! Even grandparents and nannies become involved and are sometimes unwilling to cooperate with the parents in this regard. But those people are the ones who go home to their house and sleep blissfully all night long while the parents are still at their house, struggling with a wakeful baby or child all night long! I do recommend that when a skype / telephone call or a home visit takes place, both parents be present if possible. Both parties then have the chance to voice any concerns.