There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing that I help parents and their precious little ones get the much-needed sleep that allows them to spend meaningful time together as a family. Parents of young children need all the rest they can get, and little ones need proper sleep to support their growth and brain development. The benefits of a good night’s sleep are endless, so why is sleep training so controversial? This is my all-time favorite topic, so I wanted to share a great conversation I had with a potential CPSM student. CPSM stands for the Center for Pediatric Sleep Management, a certification course and community I created for those who want to become certified sleep consultants. I’ve been working as a sleep consultant for several years, and absolutely love what I do. I created this program not only to train sleep consultants, but also to offer ongoing support through all the stages of starting a home-based business. From learning the material, to launching your services, to navigating difficult situations after you’re up and running, my students feel completely supported.
Not too long ago a potential student reached out because she was interested in adding sleep consulting to her list of existing services. She already supports families with young children, so she wanted to learn more about the course and understand what becoming a certified sleep consultant is all about. She asked if the course is only about sleep training. She explained to me that she doesn’t really believe in sleep training. She believes that babies should not be left to cry, even if all of their needs are met.
I understand that it can be difficult to hear your child cry, and yes, it is likely that there will be tears during sleep training, but it doesn’t mean that you’re just closing the door on your child and walking away. That’s only one way of doing it, but it’s certainly not the only way. As certified sleep consultants we take on a supportive role. We meet parents where they are, helping to develop a sleep plan they feel comfortable implementing. If a baby is used to being picked up whenever they let out their first cry, of course sleep training is going to start out feeling a little uncomfortable for both parents and child. The baby may still cry, but they’re being met with love, support and comfort. They’re just not being given exactly what they are asking for in that very moment. For example, a baby that is used to being nursed to sleep may cry if mom tries to rock her to sleep, but that baby is still loved and being met with comfort and care.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different families, and some came to me for help because they were holding their children all night long and couldn’t get any rest. First of all, this is an extremely unsafe practice. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants can share a room with their caregivers, but must sleep on a separate surface. If the choice is to hear your baby make some noise and perhaps get a little louder than what you’re comfortable with, or potentially put your baby in harm’s way, I’m going to choose the noise every single time. Because I’ve seen it happen many times, I firmly believe that sleep deprivation puts so much unnecessary pressure on new parents. In my opinion, if there’s a solution, then why choose to struggle, both physically and emotionally, when you could be enjoying the time with your loved ones instead? If sleep consultants can support parents through the process of teaching their children to sleep, it benefits the entire family.
I continued to explain to this prospective student that there are so many situations where we as parents are comfortable with our children crying. For whatever reason, when it comes to the topic of sleep, all of that goes out the window. Similar situations happen when we drop our children off at school or daycare, when we’re stuck in traffic or even when they are being taken care of by grandma who lives out of town and doesn’t see them that often. I see sleep training as the same thing. It’s putting our children in a position that they’re not used to, and perhaps it’s a little uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to do it. Just as our children can overcome the fear of going to school or daycare, just as they can get used to being in grandma’s arms, both of those situations are new, and so is learning how to fall sleep independently.
This prospective student I was speaking with asked great questions, and I really enjoyed our conversation. She was honest and allowed herself to consider sleep training with an open mind. As sleep consultants, we don’t chase anyone down and try to change their viewpoint. Parents come to us seeking support for what can be a very stressful and exhausting process, and I feel really honored that I get to be the person who helps them get relief. Teaching your baby or toddler to fall asleep independently is a choice, and certified sleep consultants coach parents through that choice and through the process.
At the end of our conversation, the prospective student let me know that she was going to do some more thinking, and I thought that was great. I believe in researching, reflecting and obtaining as much information you can before committing to a program. Just because I love what I do, doesn’t mean that everyone will, and that’s ok. There’s a ton of information out there that emphasizes the fact that sleep consulting is a hot-button topic, so it’s important to do your own research and make a choice that feels right for you.
When I think long and hard about it, I really can’t understand why sleep training is so controversial. I support 15-20 families per month, and what I see all day long is that when sleep training is implemented properly, the crying is almost always limited and temporary. I also think it’s important that we allow our children to express their emotions. My four year old cries when I don’t let her have ice cream for breakfast! I personally have no shame in the work that I do. The most important thing is to meet families where they are, and work with them using methods that feel safe and comfortable for them. I think teaching children to fall asleep independently is a beautiful thing. Everyone’s happier and more productive when they’re well-rested. Parents of young children need energy and focus to power through the day, that’s exactly what they’ll get with a good night’s rest!
What have you heard about sleep training? Did this blog post offer you a different way of thinking about it? Do you still have questions? As I mentioned before, I love what I do, and sleep training is one of my most favorite topics to discuss. Reach out to me or join the conversation in our Facebook group. If you love helping people, want the flexibility to set your own work schedule and see yourself making a difference in parents’ lives by helping their children learn how to fall asleep independently, becoming a certified sleep consultant may be a great fit for you. Schedule a call with me to get all your questions answered, or jump in and join our supportive community.