Sleep consultant for babies

From Sleep Struggles to Success: Get Expert Help from Your Sleep Coach for Baby, Toddlers, and Twins

4-18 Months



Over the years, I’ve helped many families build a happier, healthier relationship with sleep using the Sleep Sense Method. Factoring in your unique parenting style and family dynamics, we will create a customized sleep plan designed to transform your child into an independent, restful sleeper.

During our consultations, I will teach you how to sleep train your baby using tailor-made Gift of Sleep plans. My services cover:

  • Infant Sleep Consultations (4 months to 17 months)

The first 17 months of your baby’s life is filled with developmental milestones. One of them is sleeping through the night, but this can be the hardest skill to learn.

My Infant Sleep Consultations come in two options:

Option 1: Personal Sleep Consultation

    • Comprehensive sleep evaluation
    • Private, 90-minute consultation to discuss sleep strategies and address issues
    • Creation of a fully customized sleep plan
    • Ongoing guidance through four follow-up telephone calls during the first week after the consultation
    • Three weeks of unlimited e-mail and text messaging support
    • My Tips for Future Success Packet

Option 2: Overnight Infant Sleep Consultation

    • Comprehensive sleep evaluation
    • Private, 90-minute consultation
    • Creation of a detailed and customized sleep plan
    • An entire night with 13 hours of continuous in-home guidance and support at the start of your sleep plan
    • Ongoing guidance through four follow-up telephone calls during the first week after the consultation
    • Two weeks of unlimited e-mail and text messaging support
    • My Tips for Future Success Packet
  • Toddler Sleep Consultations (18 months and Up)
    • Comprehensive sleep evaluation
    • Private, 90-minute consultation
    • Creation of a detailed and customized sleep plan
    • Five follow-up telephone calls during the first week after the consultation
    • Four weeks of unlimited e-mail and text messaging support
    • My Tips for Future Success Packet
    • My Toddler/Pre-schooler Tools to Success Work Packet
  • Twins Sleep Consultations

My Twins Sleep private consultations are available for twin babies and toddlers. Like the infant and toddler bundles, this package includes a comprehensive sleep evaluation, a customized sleep plan, ongoing remote guidance and support, and other features.

Give Yourself and Your Child the Gift of Sleep

I’ve been exactly where you are —weary, stressed out, and ready to give up on finding an effective sleep solution. The groundbreaking Sleep Sense program changed all that, and it can completely transform your sleep life too!

With a 99.5 percent success rate over seven years as a sleep coach for baby and mentor for other sleep consultants, I can’t wait to help you go from sleep-deprived to sleep revived. If you are tired of being exhausted, let’s chat. to set up a complimentary sleep assessment today.

Work on Me Baby


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Culture Club

Culture Club is an English pop band that was part of the 1980s New Romantic movement. The original band comprised Boy George (lead vocals), Mikey Craig (bass guitar), Roy Hay (guitar and keyboards) and Jon Moss (drums and percussion). Their second album, Colour by Numbers, has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, and they had several international hits with songs such as “Church of the Poison Mind”, “Karma Chameleon” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”. Boy George’s androgynous style of dressing caught the attention of the public and the media. more “

Year: 1986 4:06 86 Views

Watch: New Singing Lesson Videos Can Make Anyone A Great Singer

I wanna tell you something girl God intended and you planned it It was meant to be Like a lover, or a brother I’ll shield you from the enemy Don’t say forever Don’t say forever Hold me Let’s stay together Let’s say together Look in my eyes Can’t you see what I need? Work on me baby Work on me baby I do it better when I’m under pressure Work on me baby Work on me baby Some boys are devils And some fools say Maybe we’ll work it out I think we’ll work it out God intended, he depended On our honesty Like a lover, like no other I’ll shield you from the enemy You’ve been trying baby Just painting a picture for me Ain’t no use crying darling When we love so easily Every day in every way we’ll work

The easy, fast & fun way to learn how to sing:

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10 Secrets of Infant Sleep Coaches

Stephanie Rausser

IT’S 3 A.M. and your baby is crying. Should you pick her up from her crib and rock her? Let her cry but check on her? Feed her? An infant sleep coach would know what to do. These 21st-century experts make their living by helping parents get their babies into a healthy sleep routine with custom plans, phone calls, and overnight stays. Services can range from $50 for an online course up to $3,500 for overnight visits and a year of support. Though many of these professionals do go through training, their level of expertise varies widely. We asked four of the country’s most seasoned coaches to pull back the sheets on their snooze-inducing wisdom.

“I’ve had parents call me and say, ‘I need to do this without my partner knowing.’ “

“Often it’s the dad who wants the mom to stop nursing the baby to sleep, while the mom feels in her gut that the baby still needs nighttime feeds,” says Kim West, the Annapolis, Maryland-based author of Good Night, Sleep Tight. “I’ve also had scenarios where Mom wants to get on a better schedule but Dad really can’t take the crying,” says West (aka “The Sleep Lady”). “Whatever the reason, sleep coaching tends to be much less successful when one parent is saying, ‘You created this problem, now fix it.’ ” Don’t try to hash it out during a midnight wake-up call. Instead, book a sitter, or ask Grams to watch your baby while you come up with a plan you can both support.

  • Track Your Baby’s Growth!

“Not every peep your baby makes at night means he needs to be rocked or fed.”

Your baby’s sounds might just mean he’s mildly frustrated or settling in his sleep — and checking on him can make the problem worse, especially if he wasn’t awake to begin with. “After the baby turns 4 months old, we teach parents to take a breath before deciding whether to go in,” says Jennifer Waldburger, cofounder of Sleepy Planet, a sleep-coaching service in Los Angeles, and coauthor of The Sleepeasy Solution. Check the video monitor to reassure yourself that your baby is okay, and you may even see that his eyes are still closed. If your baby is crying out due to pain or true discomfort, you’ll know by his loud wail, which will ramp up instead of quieting down.

“What worked for another baby might not help yours.”

“For every child I work with, I take into account her temperament, the parents’ personalities, and their lifestyle,” says Brooke Nalle, founder of Sleepy on Hudson, a sleep-coaching service for families in Dobbs Ferry, New York. “I may coach the parents to stay in the room while soothing their child back down, because some babies need to have a parent there. We work on gradually spacing out the soothing until the baby learns to do it on her own.” With other infants, Nalle might have the parent leave the room after saying good night. “Sometimes having a parent there is the worst thing you can do, because it overstimulates the child,” she says. “These babies need their own space instead.”

  • Shop for Cute Sleep Sacks!

“It might seem silly to do with a newborn, but it pays off.”

Hold off on sleep training until Baby is 3 months or older, sleep experts advise, but you can create a healthy bedtime routine and naptime rituals from Day 1. “Dim the lights 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime to help bring your baby’s cortisol levels down,” advises Ingrid Prueher, a sleep coach in Westport, Connecticut, known as “The Baby Sleep Whisperer.” Then give your baby a bath and her last feed of the day, followed by a bedtime story and a song. Do this consistently every night, and it will be easier for you to sleep train your baby when the time comes, Prueher says.

“Too many babies are kept up too late in the evening.”

“Understandably, a lot of my clients don’t want to put their child to bed as soon as they walk in from work,” says Prueher. “They want to be together.” But keeping Baby up can knock him off his biological sleep schedule, she says. For a 3- to 6-month-old, the sweet spot for bedtime, reports Prueher, is quite early — about three to three and a half hours after he woke up from his last nap of the day and no later than 7 P.M. Quality over quantity, she says. “Your baby will benefit more from having you read and sing to him for 30 minutes than from staying up with you for two hours while you do things around the house.”

“Daytime sleep leads to better nighttime sleep.”

“I encourage parents to let their little one nap during the day, because an infant who is overtired often can’t settle down come bedtime,” West says. This sounds counterintuitive, but think back to how wired you may have felt after pulling an all-nighter in college. An under-napped baby can get hyper and overstimulated, leading to tears and not enough shut-eye. Babies who are younger than 6 months need four to five naps a day; older babies need two to three.

“Regular feedings during the day help with sleep at night.”

Knowing your baby is eating well during the day will give you the confidence to know that she can go back to sleep at night without you having to nurse her or give her a bottle, says Nalle. “If you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to make a distinction between nursing from hunger versus nursing to soothe.” If Baby nurses to soothe all day, then she might be hungry at night, and that keeps all of you from getting rest. Your baby is actively breastfeeding when your breasts feel empty when she’s done. If she’s often using your breast as a pacifier, it could be time to consider other soothers, such as rocking, patting, and shushing, Nalle says.

“Teething or a cold doesn’t have to wreck your efforts.”

“Parents call me in a panic after we’ve worked together because now their baby is teething or has a stuffy nose,” West says. Giving your baby extra comfort for a few nights won’t undo your hard work — as long as you go back to your routine as soon as she’s better. “Remember that your child has proven she knows how to sleep well prior to the disruption, which means she has the ability to get back there,” Prueher says.

“Sensitive babies might need more coaching.”

“I find that babies who are very alert to their surroundings, such as a change in noise or temperature or their clothing, tend to have choppier sleep than more mellow babies,” says Nalle. “The parents who come to me often feel judged by their family, friends, even doctors and total strangers!” West says. “I hear, ‘I know I shouldn’t have done X,’ such as nursed him to sleep every night. ‘But I didn’t know what else to do!’ ” The good news is that all those so-called bad sleep habits can be unlearned with time. Babies — even the sensitive ones — are much more adaptable than we give them credit for, says Nalle. Small tweaks that you do consistently can add up to a big difference in her sleep routine.

“It’s not selfish of you to want to get more sleep.”

“Banish that feeling and remind yourself that teaching your baby to snooze for long stretches at night is good for him,” says Nalle. Getting the right amount of high-quality sleep will help his brain recharge so he’s ready to wake up and thrive. Plus, when you’re rested, your baby is safer, reminds Waldburger. “One mother called us because she had just run a red light. Another was so exhausted that she forgot she was cooking and set fire to her kitchen curtains!” There is a reason that parents during flights are instructed to put on their oxygen mask first: A well-rested, happier mama will result in a happier baby.

How To Sleep Train

Clear the calendar

“The best time to sleep train is when you have at least three weeks of normal routine and no big transitions in your schedule,” says Brooke Nalle, founder of Sleepy on Hudson.

Start on a Friday

“Parents tell me, ‘We need the weekend to rest up before we get started,’ but how are you going to do that when your baby isn’t sleeping?” asks Kim West, author of Good Night, Sleep Tight. “Use a weekend to sleep train so you can nap. By Monday, most parents are already in a better place.”

Prepare for crying

Take a pause

When your baby first cries out in the night, she may simply be shifting in her sleep. “But do watch her on your monitor,” says Nalle. Does she find her hand to suck on? That’s a sign she might be soothing herself. Is she moving around and looking to settle? She may go back to sleep on her own. But if the crying is sustained and gets louder, you’ll need to go in.

Check on him

Once your baby is 4 months old, you can wait about seven minutes before you check on him when he cries out. “But don’t take him out of the crib; this is just a quick visit to rub his back and say ‘I love you,’ ” says Nalle. Gradually increase the length of time between each check by a few minutes, waiting up to 15 minutes between checks for a 6-month-old. If you stick with this consistently every night, your baby will learn to fall asleep independently.

Be confident

Remind yourself that the first few nights are the hardest, but your efforts will pay off. Act calm — babies are sponges and will pick up on your stress, says Jennifer Waldburger, cofounder of Sleepy Planet. Take some deep breaths and tag-team with your partner so you both get a little rest.

Originally published in the April 2015 issue of American Baby magazine.

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  • By Crayola Beauty Lips

American Baby

March 29, 2013— — An earth-shattering scream could be heard, as a toddler cried over and over again for her mother from her bedroom.

Two-year-old Mia wasn’t screaming because she was sick or hurt. In fact, just minutes before bed, she was happily playing downstairs. But like young children all over the country, Mia just didn’t want to go to sleep.

Her parents, Danielle and Marcello, who asked that their last name not be used, were doing a terrible tango every day, trying to get their daughter to go to bed and sleep through the night. Mia wakes up between four and five times every night and often ends up in her parents’ bed.

“We just don’t sleep,” Danielle said. “We are up anywhere from three to six times a night with one of the kids.”

Mia isn’t the only problem. The couple has a 9-month-old baby named Emily, who also didn’t sleep.

Between the two children, the parents were up almost all night long.

“I get anywhere from three to four hours of sleep a night and it’s not consecutive sleep,” Danielle said.

Join the Conversation: Like “Nightline” on Facebook HERE and follow “Nightline” on Twitter HERE.

A typical night was putting Mia down at 7:30 p.m., but she only falls asleep if her mother is in the room, which Danielle said could take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. And once Mia was asleep, she didn’t stay that way.

“Between midnight and 2 a.m., she screaming so loud that I am afraid she is going to wake Emmy up and I am afraid she is going to hurt herself,” Danielle said. “So at that point the only thing that consoled her was giving her a bottle and bringing her into bed with us.”

Meanwhile, Emily wasn’t sleeping like a baby either. She was often up three or four times a night.

“Emily I rock to sleep,” Danielle said. “When she wakes up I pick her up, I haven’t even tried to sleep train Emily.”

The couple was at their breaking point. Both worked full time and with the lack of sleep and chaos at bedtime, their lives were spiraling out of control.

“Marcello and I don’t have a life because we spend our nights trying to get our kids to bed and by the time we’re done, we haven’t eaten,” Danielle said. “On a typical night it’s 9 p.m. and we haven’t eaten.”

So they took drastic action and hired a paid sleep consultant — an increasing trend among stressed out parents. Danielle said she was ready to give up her life savings to get some structure to bedtime.

“They are not bad children,” she said. “They just don’t have the structure they need. They are not sleeping.”

The family turned to “Dream Team Baby,” a group of sleep consultants that specialize in young children. Conner Herman and her colleague Kira Ryan go into families’ homes and help parents take back the night.

Sleep training small children is a booming business. “Dream Team Baby” charges close to $2,000 for an overnight stay and follow-up support, though they did not charge Danielle and Marcello to let “Nightline” tell their story.

“A parent can absolutely do this by themselves,” Herman said. “Unfortunately a lot of parents are over extended already and for this family they have been through a lot and having the confidence that their child can put herself to sleep, that there is nothing wrong, they are not going to have to help her in any way, is sometimes hard.”

Their method is simple: Black out the windows so the room is completely dark, turn on a sound machine to drown out any noise, then put the baby to bed and walk away.

“We are teaching parents to believe in their children,” Ryan said. “We really believe that after four months, children are ready to be successful at sleeping through the night.”

In other words, the sleep experts were going to let Mia cry. The Dream Team will sleep on the floor of her room for the night to be sure Mia is safe.

The cry-it-out method is not for everyone. Even though a five-year recent study in the journal “Pediatrics” showed that letting a baby cry caused no long-lasting harm, some parents and doctors are not comfortable with it.

Dr. Harvey Karp, the author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block” books and DVDs, said that when a child cries in the middle of the night, he could be in distress.

“I would think of crying out in a kind of a similar way to spanking,” Karp said. “Spanking can work, a lot of people will tell you that it’s the best thing, that’s what worked for their kids. But it fundamentally doesn’t feel right and it teaches them the wrong message.”

For the Dream Team, short term, controlled crying, is the most effective way to give the child when it needs most — a good night’s sleep — and the ability to learn how to self-soothe.

“A good night’s sleep is a great, wonderful thing and that is something you will be giving to your child and that is something to celebrate,” Herman said. “On the other hand, if you are interested in having your child get healthy sleep, it’s important for them to have control of that sleep. When you decide you are ready for your child to have that, you are going to have to change your behavior.”

Can the Dream Team cure Mia of her sleeping problem? Watch the dramatic conclusion HERE.

​When you’re not sleeping at night because your little one is waking multiple times at night and you have to help them get back to sleep all night long, you become tired, you get frustrated that your nights are unpredictable and you dread bedtime because it takes hours. You know your child needs more sleep but you’re not sure where to turn. I’m here to help.
My passion is helping exhausted parents teach their children how to sleep all night, using gentle methods that match your parenting style. Unlike other sleep consultants out there, I don’t use one single approach to help your child sleep at night. I provide an experience not only for your child, but for you to assist and support you you throughout the process, every step of the way. I take a holistic approach to sleep; not just how your child is sleeping now, but how you’d like your baby or child to sleep. Based on your choices, I’ll give you specific strategies to meet your goals for your child’s sleep. There are different methods to help your child sleep at night and you get to choose the method. The best part is that you can be as supportive and comforting to your child as much as you choose throughout the process.
There’s so much information out there
From online groups, to well meaning family and friends, there’s no shortage of ways to get your child sleeping. I’ll help you navigate the mountains of information about sleep to find the method that fits your parenting style and your child’s temperament to help them sleep through the night. As a Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach and Consultant, I’ve worked with hundreds families to teach their children to fall asleep independently and get the sleep their growing bodies and brains need. And since I get the question asked often, I want to assure that I will never ask you to ignore your child and leave them to ‘cry it out’. Your child will know they are loved and cared for when they need you.

How I work with exhausted parents:

  • I provide each family with an education about their child’s sleep, how things that you’re doing could be impacting your current situation and exactly how to get your baby or child sleeping through the night.
  • I lay out a written, customized, step-by-step sleep plan that lets you make choices about the right approach for your child to get them sleeping at night, because you know your child best.
  • I provide one-on-one personalized support and guidance to help you achieve success and ensure that as you are working on your child’s sleep, it’s a gentle approach that meets your desires and goals.

What would a full night of sleep do for your child? Or you?
When your baby or child isn’t sleeping, neither are you. Lack of sleep affects your daily life, including your job, your relationships, even your health. Children that get the right amount of sleep for their age are happier, healthier and more engaged as they learn about the world around them. They have predictable days, calmer bedtimes and sleep through the night. Parents that get a full night of sleep are better able to handle stress, are better focused and ready to take on the day!
Contact me today to learn how I can help your baby or child sleep well all night (and you too!). In-home and online sleep consultations are available to fit your schedule, no matter where you live.

Parents say the coaches help cut through confusion about what sleep-training methods are best. After many sleep-deprived nights spent trying to soothe or sing her 5-month-old daughter Thira to sleep, Ashley Langer says, “I felt like a zombie.” She and her husband, Adam, had read several books on infant sleep, but “they all preached something different,” she says. Whatever soothing technique Ms. Langer tried, Thira kept waking up several times a night.

Ashley Langer of New Rochelle, N.Y., employed a sleep coach several months ago to help get her baby daughter Thira, shown in this recent photo at 9 months old, on a regular sleeping schedule. Photo: Bette Langer

In desperation one night, Ms. Langer googled baby coaches, found a New York company called Mommywise and hired sleep coach Devon Clement to come to her New Rochelle, N.Y., home. After two days’ coaching, Ms. Clement helped Ms. Langer reschedule feedings and begin leaving Thira alone in her crib long enough to fall asleep on her own. Five months later, Thira is still sleeping through the night. Ms. Langer says some of her friends are jealous. “They think I’m lying,” she says.

New parents have slogged through sleepless nights for generations. But the landscape has gotten trickier.

Research on the benefits of breast-feeding has more mothers nursing their babies longer, on demand and through the night, to maintain their milk supply. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2016 advice that babies should sleep in the same room as their parents, in a separate bed, for 6 to 12 months, to guard against crib death, can make sleeping harder for all. Also, in an era when most parents need two incomes, the return to work often overlaps with babies’ sleep training.

All these factors combined to help make Danielle DiCerbo feel like a crazy person after 5½ months with her new baby, Luca. Since Luca’s birth, she and her husband, Mike Daddio, had rarely slept more than 2½ hours at a time in their two-bedroom Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment. But both had to return to work, Mr. Daddio as a builder and Ms. DiCerbo running her own consulting firm. “It was a complete nightmare,” Ms. DiCerbo says.

She acknowledges that sleep coaches can be expensive, and they aren’t for everyone. Even some family members were skeptical. “People were like, ‘That’s crazy, come on. Is there really a professional that can sleep-train a baby?’ ” But after she hired a coach who helped them get Luca sleeping through the night while continuing to breast-feed, she decided the outcome was worth the cost. “People pay for therapy,” she says. “What would you pay for your sanity?”

Katie and Brandon Hansen of Abilene, Texas, hired a sleep consultant several years ago when their twins Kenzie and Cash, center, shown at age 3 in this 2017 photo, were keeping them awake at night. Also shown are their siblings Maizie, left, and Henry, right. Photo: Copper and Pearl

Elizabeth Murray, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, says the sleep-coaching trend makes her a little sad. “It seems to me a sign of parents’ feeling that they can’t do this on their own, that somehow they’re failing and they need an expert for every little thing,” rather than working with their child’s doctor, says Dr. Murray, an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Rochester in New York.

Some parents say crossfire on social media over the right way to do sleep training has undermined their confidence. Numerous books in recent years have promoted varied approaches, from cuddling the baby nonstop so he never cries, to putting him in his crib and ignoring his cries until morning.

Among the most popular is graduated extinction, or the check-and-console method. It involves putting the child to bed drowsy but awake and checking on him at progressively longer intervals until he falls asleep. Another method, bedtime fading, calls for temporarily delaying bedtime by about 15 minutes more each night, to help the baby fall asleep, then gradually moving it earlier.

A third method—dubbed the shuffle by author and sleep coach Kim West —is called camping out, or the shuffle. It entails sitting close to pat and comfort the baby until she falls asleep, then moving a little farther away every few days until she no longer needs your presence.


  • Start sleep-training when your baby is 4 to 6 months old.
  • Learn your child’s cues that she’s getting sleepy.
  • Try not to let your baby fall asleep in a stroller or car seat.
  • Set a soothing bedtime routine and stick to it.
  • Put your child in the crib awake but drowsy.
  • Be consistent in your behavior during bedtime and awakenings.
  • Keep the room dark and quiet (or provide white noise).
  • See your pediatrician to rule out medical causes of sleep problems.

New mother Katie Hansen turned to Facebook for sleep-training advice. “I’d see people sharing articles about how you’re damaging your kids if you let them cry,” she says. After several months of rushing to comfort her baby twins every time one of them cried, she and her husband were desperate for sleep.

She turned to sleep consultant Lori Strong of Austin, Texas, who helped her set a bedtime routine and teach the twins to fall asleep on their own. “It’s really helpful to have somebody who’s an expert, but who also isn’t going to make you feel silly” for doubting yourself, says Ms. Hansen, of Abilene, Texas.

The most common mistake parents make is failing to pick one approach and stick to it. “The best method for any family is the one they can follow consistently,” says Becky Roosevelt, a Pleasanton, Calif., sleep consultant.

Sleep consultant Becky Roosevelt of Pleasanton, Calif., says the most common mistake parents make when sleep-training their babies is failing to pick a single approach and stick to it. Photo: Laura Pedrick

Long nights spent doing the pacifier dance—jumping up repeatedly to give their baby daughter Lily her pacifier—had Stephanie Diamond and her husband exhausted. “We were running ragged,” says Dr. Diamond, of Miami Shores, Fla. With help from sleep consultant Sasha Carr, a Norwalk, Conn., psychologist, they learned to use the check-and-console method, to help Lily fall asleep without rocking or using a pacifier.

Most parents rely on referrals to find a sleep coach. It’s important to weigh a consultant’s training. Mommywise coaches have experience as postpartum doulas and training in newborn care, says founder Natalie Nevares. Two organizations, the Family Sleep Institute and Ms. West’s Gentle Sleep Coach program, certify students who complete several months’ training plus supervised practice.

Work & Family Mailbox

Q: Regarding your Aug. 22 story on more employers’ handing out promotions without a pay raise, what impact does that have on the likelihood that employees will quit to take another job?—S.W.

A: It depends on whether the employee interprets the offer as an appreciative gesture by a respectful boss whose hands are tied on compensation, or as a disrespectful ploy by a manipulative boss trying to get more work done for nothing.

A boss whose motives are suspect is likely to hit two hot buttons that drive employees to quit—dissatisfaction with one’s boss, and a lack of pay raises, according to a 2012 study of 560 employees by Deloitte. This is especially true of employees who have only been with the company for one to three years, a stage when workers are most liable to jump ship. In general, employees are far more likely to bail if they see their employer’s pay practices as political or arbitrary, according to another Deloitte survey from 2018.

If the employee sees the offer as recognition of her hard work and an opportunity to grow, it’s likely to have the opposite effect. Promotions are among the top five reasons employees stay with their current employers, the 2012 Deloitte study says. And employers that deliberately create growth opportunities and stretch assignments for employees have far better retention rates than those who don’t.

Q: Regarding your Aug. 14 column on long-distance marriages, most of the couples you mentioned have grown-up children, or no children at home. What happens when little children are involved?—N.K.

A: There’s little research on the impact of commuter marriages on children, but the challenges can be complicated. The spouse living full-time with the children often feels like a single parent, and may have to cut back his or her own time at work to meet increased family-care demands. Children may feel shortchanged, too. Such risks make corporate human-resource managers reluctant to pressure employees into transfers that split their families.

However, commuter setups can be better for children than relocating the whole family, which forces children to change schools and make new friends. Teens who have had to move often with their families tend to have more behavioral and emotional problems.

Commuter parents with children often adapt their routines to support them, traveling home more often than others. Many FaceTime with toddlers and use cellphones and texting to stay in touch with teenagers. Also, digital tools enable parents to monitor their children’s grades, coordinate schedules and pay for extracurricular activities from afar. Some commuter wives say delegating responsibility to teenage children helps them learn new skills, according to a 2007 study led by Karla Mason Bergen, an associate professor of communication at the College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Neb.

Parents’ attitudes can shape children’s response. Children whose parents communicate well with them and embrace commuter setups as a route to a better, more prosperous life for the family tend to get better grades and have fewer behavior problems in school, according to a 2015 study of 217 commuter families with teenagers.

Write to Sue Shellenbarger at [email protected]

Is it right to train babies to sleep?

Image copyright Thinkstock

In the last five years there has been a big increase in the number of consultants who say they can train babies to sleep through the night without waking or demanding to be fed. This may be great for parents, if they can afford it. But there are disagreements about how good it is for the child.

It’s 2am and if you are the parent of a baby who does not sleep well you may well be pacing up and down in your baby’s room trying to get your little one off to sleep.

Cold, tired and craving the comfort of your bed, you may be rocking or feeding the wailing child, singing, or just sitting by the cot holding a little hand – anything to get him or her to drift off again.

Anna Cormack from Manchester knows what sheer exhaustion feels like. She has three children – Johnny, the youngest, is 15 months old and wakes up at least two to three times in the night for breast feeds. Cormack feeds him to sleep and has not had a full night’s rest since he was born. Her partner frequently works at night, so night-time parenting falls to her.

“When it’s really bad I probably only get two-three hours’ sleep in the night,” she says. “What every parent would tell you is that it’s the cumulative effect. You can do one night, even two, but it’s constant. Night after night it has an effect on you.”

More than half of a group of 7,500 parents who took part in a survey released last week by The Children’s Sleep Charity and Netmums said their child woke at least once a night, and 35% said they were regularly sleep-deprived and exhausted – and this included parents whose children were no longer babies.

Image copyright Anna Cormack Image caption Cormack would like her son Johnny to sleep better at night

Cormack says she copes well but would like to have more energy and creativity, and better memory.

“I often can’t be bothered to go out to groups see friends because I am too tired. Also it makes me obsessed with Johnny having his naps at home so I can nap too, which makes me quite house bound,” she says.

This is the kind of experience that might make some parents these days consider hiring a sleep consultant. There weren’t many of them around 10 or 15 years ago but the number has rapidly increased in the UK in the last five years, says Julie Cleasby, European Regional Director for the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants.

Cormack was put in touch by the BBC radio programme You and Yours with Katie Palmer, a former nanny and mother-of-three who co-runs Infant Sleep Consultants with two other women.

Like many other sleep consultancies, the company offers a range of packages, from telephone and online support, to home visits and overnight stays. The last of these would be easily affordable by someone like the chef, Jamie Oliver, who recently hired a night nurse for his newborn River Rocket, but might be a stretch for many parents.

Palmer says it’s very common to come across a child like Johnny who won’t go back to sleep after waking at night without being breast-fed.

“When we say we sleep through the night, none of us actually sleep through the night,” she says. “We all naturally wake several times a night, it’s kind of a caveman instinct where you would wake to check for predators.”

Find out more

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Listen to a report on sleep consultancy on BBC Radio 4’s Call You and Yours, with Prof Helen Ball of Durham University and James Wilson, a sleep consultant with the Children’s Sleep Charity

Children have much shorter sleep cycles than adults and can wake more than 10 times a night, Palmer says, and what parents need to do is to help their child knit these sleep cycles together.

In Johnny’s case, she says she did not immediately eradicate all of his night feeds but set up a schedule where these were gradually reduced to just one per night. She says this gave Cormack and Johnny clarity about when he would be settled back to sleep and when he would be fed. After this she introduced a sleep training programme called “gradual retreat”.

“So, for example, the first time Anna fed him, she put him down in the cot and then she sat next to him and patted and stroked him until he fell asleep. And then, when he accepted that, she just sat next to him, not patting him. Then she moved further away and further away until she could go out the door,” says Palmer.

Johnny cried intermittently for around 15 minutes on the first night, Palmer says, but then accepted the changes to his bedtime routine. There are children who cry for longer, though, and in this case she says the parent should be a comforting presence. What parents shouldn’t do is to give the baby mixed messages by reverting to feeding him or her to sleep.

Image copyright Thinkstock Image caption Many people find the lack of sleep the hardest thing about being the parent of a baby or toddler

“There aren’t always tears, but I think the majority of the time there is,” says Palmer. “I think that if there was a guaranteed no-cry sleep solution I wouldn’t have a job, because it would be out there and every parent would do it.”

Although she does not advocate the “Cry it Out” technique, where a baby is placed in the cot at bedtime and the parent does not return, even if they cry, she does sometimes use a form of “controlled crying”, where the parent leaves a child’s bedroom, but returns at short intervals to comfort the baby.

Some researchers who have studied the effect of leaving a baby to cry have measured elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and it’s been speculated that this could harm the child’s emotional development. Another study, however, found no negative effects on children five years after they had been sleep-trained with this technique. So the picture is unclear.

“Any kind of crying is stressful… and it does raise cortisol levels,” says Palmer. “However sleep deprivation also isn’t great and can do long-term damage as well, and I think it’s deciding what is more sustainable and what you believe.”

Palmer admits that sleep training is not for everybody. She says you should never sleep-train a baby under six months old, or if there is an underlying reason that has not been addressed – like reflux or colic. Also, the parent needs to be in the right frame of mind and shouldn’t feel pressured to do it by friends or family.

But should we even be attempting to sleep train babies at all?

“If you look at the research, what we know is it’s entirely normal for a child to wake regularly at night until about two-and-a-half years of age,” says Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of The Gentle Sleep Book.

Many parents believe their child has a sleep problem, she says, when in fact it is just normal infant sleep.

She says she sees mothers who have tried sleep training and it did not work for them, or it initially worked, but then a few months down the line their child’s sleep had become worse.

Sleep statistics

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According to the report – Sleep: what is normal at six months? – part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood:

  • Only 16% of babies slept through the night at six months old
  • 50% of babies woke occasionally
  • 9% of babies woke most nights
  • 17% of babies woke up more than once per night, ranging from twice to eight times
  • 16% of six month olds had no regular sleeping pattern
  • 61% of babies slept in a room on their own by six months old, but 15% were usually or always brought into their parent’s bed if they woke up

“We always make it out that the baby’s got the problem and it’s the baby that needs to be fixed, when actually I think it should be the parents adjusting things,” says Ockwell-Smith.

“So I would help parents to look at things like, ‘Is the environment right? Is the baby eating something that’s causing an issue, is there something physiological underlying it, is it something to do with the timings of things that’s causing an issue?'”

In her view, it is totally natural to feed a baby to sleep.

“If you look at any other mammal – if you go to the zoo – the babies will all fall asleep with the mums holding them, so that’s normal, that’s how it’s meant to be,” says Ockwell-Smith.

“If they’ve fully woken it’s because there’s a problem, but the parent coming in feeding them or cuddling them will resolve almost any problem… I’ve worked with thousands of parents who still rock and feed their babies to sleep and they’ve managed to increase sleep.”

Ockwell-Smith says she finds that once parents are aware their baby’s interrupted sleep is normal then their fears are often allayed.

“I don’t think we should be embracing the fact that we’re just not going to sleep,” says Ockwell-Smith. “It is normal, but it’s also incredibly exhausting and there normally are some tweaks you can make that will make an improvement, but I think we should expect some waking as normal and embrace it.

“Nobody in 10 years’ time is going to think, ‘Oh I wish I hadn’t hugged my baby so much’. You’re not going to regret rocking your baby to sleep or feeding them to sleep.”

Ockwell-Smith says she is concerned that the sleep consultant industry is unregulated and that anyone at present can set themselves up to practise. Palmer would also welcome regulation in order to keep standards high, and she advises parents to do as much research into practitioners as possible before hiring them.

Prof Helen Ball of Durham University argues that it’s crucial for parents to ensure that their consultant sticks to safe infant sleep practices – and does not, for example, advise putting babies to sleep on their tummies, which dramatically increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

How did sleep training work for Anna Cormack and Johnny?

After three-and-a-half weeks of the programme, Johnny now wakes up once in the night at around 1am or 4am. He is also falling asleep on his own in the cot without being breast-fed.

And after 15 months, Cormack is finally getting more sleep.

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Sleep consultants – anyone used one?

thought id share a technique that we’ve been using for the past 3 weeks and seems to be working (or atleast with massive improvements, previously we were waking 4-5 times a night and now its max 2 times).
The verbal examples I have given are what we use, but you can use anything but remember it needs to be the same every night.
1/2hr leading up to bed time “Chelsea it’s nearly time for bed, soon its time for sleep”- keep preparing them that its time for sleep
Read a book/sing a song/say a prayer (whatever you do though it will need to be the same routine everynight (same song/book/prayer etc)
Turn off the light
Turn on music (if you have it)
Cuddle and kiss them “Chelsea its time for sleep, mummy wants you to go to sleep- lay them in the cot and give dummy if they have one”
Lay them down in cot and hold them gentle (on the top of the chest and upper legs) “Chelsea it’s time for sleep, mummy wants you to lay down and go to sleep”
Leave the room
How it works is that children above 6mths can follow verbal cues- prepare them so that they understand what is going to happen and when.
Kids have a 20 minutes sleep ‘bus’ that they can catch- basically that it takes babies 20 minutes to self settle, if they miss that bus they must wait for the next one.
In the 20 minutes if they are histerical go in the room, do not look at them, lay them down and hold again (approx 5 sec) “mummy wants you to lay down and go to sleep, leave the room again.
Also when babies are asleep there is an 8 minute period after every 40 minutes that they are transitioning to the next sleep cycle, during this time they may sit up/ cry etc. Do not go in or touch them. If at 10 minutes they are still doing this they are awake for the next approx 40 minutes, unless they are super distressed do not go in. If you do go in, the same thing applies, lay them down, do not look at them “mummy wants you to lay down and go to sleep, its time for sleep”.
Basically what the girl from my work told me is that by getting them out of the cot we are giving them the wrong message that if they cry we will come and that their bed isnt safe, its about teaching them your cot is safe, we know you are safe in there and we want you to sleep.
Also if your not at breaking point try role modeling what your routine will be and get your DP/DH to hold bubs and you do the whole routine with her teddy/doll and then afterwards talk about what a good teddy/dolly for going to bed etc,
Goodluck and I have my fingers crossed for you. The first night it took 13 minutes and now its generally between 40 seconds and 2 minutes until she goes to sleep, as soon as we are reading the book her eyes start to close. I seriously cant believe how easy she has adapter and that we have spent the last months rocking/patting for literally hours trying to get her to sleep, not including the countless nights we drove around putting her to sleep cos nothing else worked…ahhh the joys of being a parent!
Btw we have also been to sleep school twice with minimal results until now smile