There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
As parents, we can pretty much do and accomplish anything for our kids and families, as long as we have had a good night's sleep. We learn very early on that a good night's sleep is pure heaven and a luxury that can cure almost any problem in your household. Some parents talk about how great their babies are and how they can sleep through the night. But what if you have a little one who can't sleep and it's affecting the entire household? Never fear, there are sleep angels who really do exist. This month, we would like to introduce you to Allison Hall and Liz MacDougall, sleep certified consultants and owners of Lullaby Consulting, Infant and Child Sleep Solutions. They are both nurses and sleep specialists located right here in Regina who are helping parents all over the world learn how to help their children with a good night's sleep. We appreciate a good night's sleep as adults, but it is essential for babies and children.
KB: How did Lullaby Consulting start and where did you get the idea?
LC: We started Lullaby Consulting last January 2014, while we were both on maternity leave with our youngest children. We had previously used the methods from the Sleep Sense program with our older children when we were teaching them to sleep better, and found great success with it. Over the next several years we often helped friends and family to get their babies sleeping better as well! While we were using the Sleep Sense methods again with our new babies, and kind of troubleshooting back and forth with each other, we started discussing how great it would be to become certified sleep consultants and share our knowledge with families on a broader scale. From this conversation we got the ball rolling, looked into getting certified under Dana Obleman (the creator of Sleep Sense), and Lullaby Consulting was born.
KB: What are some of the types of typical sleep problems that parents tell you about when they contact you ?
SL: When parents contact us, they have typically been dealing with sleep deprivation for some period of time, and are often worried because the baby or child isn’t getting enough sleep. One very common problem that we see is babies or toddlers who are getting up multiple times in the night and looking for mom and dad to help them get back to sleep. Now with younger babies, it is definitely expected that they need to get up to eat in the middle of the night, and that isn’t an issue. It becomes a problem though, when it is no longer out of hunger and is behavioural instead, and both the child and the parents become sleep deprived and chronically overtired. Another common issue we see is a baby or child who is either very difficult to get down for naps, refuses naps completely, or does very short naps when they do fall asleep for them. We commonly work with a lot of parents who have to work really hard to get their child to sleep, often using rocking, nursing, feeding or car rides.
KB: What is the single most important piece of advice you can give new or expecting parents about their baby and sleep?
SL: The most important single piece of advice that we can give new or expectant parents about babies and sleep is that, for most babies, they need to learn independent sleep skills in order to become and remain good sleepers. What we mean by that is that the baby can learn to fall asleep in the sleep environment without being rocked, nursed or fed to sleep. When babies develop this skill, they will only wake up when they are hungry, or have had enough sleep. This makes for a well-rested, happy baby, and well rested parents as well!
KB:What is your process when parents contact you for help?
SL: When families contact us, we first set up a brief phone call to discuss the baby’s current routine, sleep habits, sleep issues, feeding, and some background information about the baby. If the family decides to work with us after we determine that it’s something we can help them with, we then email them a detailed questionnaire to fill out on their child. Once we get the questionnaire back we use the information to create a customized sleep plan just for that baby or toddler, then we come to the family’s home and do a consultation and go over the sleep plan in detail. We also work with families that live in different cities, provinces, and even countries, but the consultation is then done via Skype or telephone. From that point on, we offer exceptional follow-up support through phone calls and emails as they put the new sleep plan into action with their little one!
KB: What types of services do you offer? Do you work with just infants or do you also offer help for older kids?
SL: We have different consultation packages for babies 0-3 months old and older babies over 3 months old, as well as for toddlers and children. We also offer an overnight package for parents who feel like they need a bit more support and would like one of us present during that first night of implementing the new sleep plan. We will also consult with couples or families who are expecting a little one, so that they can start out on the right track right from day one after the baby arrives. We work with babies from 6 weeks old, all the way up to children 5 years old.
KB: As parents, what are some issues that you have experienced that you think would help other parents?
SL: Between the two of us, we have successfully taught our 5 children to be excellent sleepers. With our own first children we tackled a variety of sleep issues including rocking or nursing to sleep, using swings or carseats to get them to nap, short naps, multiple night wakings, and early morning wake-ups. We really understand where the parents we work with are coming from because we have been in their shoes. We remember all too well how it felt to be that sleep deprived, and the anxiety that was felt as naptime or bedtime approached. These personal experiences as parents have allowed us to gain so much insight into how sleep impacts the entire family unit, and how life changing it is once the whole family is sleeping well again!
KB: Are there any general tips you can offer parents regarding sleep for your babies? Toddlers? School age kids?
SL: There are some general tips we can offer that apply to children no matter what age they are:
Babies and children thrive on early bedtimes, in fact most children need to be in bed NO later than 8:00 PM. Some babies can even need to be in bed by 6:30 PM for the night!
The sleep environment should be conducive to good sleep, we always recommend a nice dark room and the use of white noise if there is any noise that could wake the baby or child before they should be awake.
Babies and children also thrive on routine, so while they don’t have to be on a rigid schedule, there should be some consistency with when they are put down for naps during the day, and what time they go to bed. Try not to skip naps!
It’s a great idea to implement a naptime and bedtime routine with children of any age, it acts as a cue to let them know what’s coming next… sleep! A great bedtime routine can be anything that winds them down after the day, like a bath, storytime, or a lullaby.
Respect your child’s need for sleep, they need a lot more sleep than adults do, in fact they do the majority of their growing and brain development during sleep. Treat sleep like you would treat any basic necessity for your child, it is just as important as nutrition and safety!
KB: What is your favourite thing about your business?
SL: Our favourite thing about our business is giving families the gift of sleep, we really do think it is life changing! We get to watch families go from despair and simply surviving through months or years of sleepless nights, to thriving and reconnecting with their spouses and children through the process. Most families that contact us have lost hope by that time, and some of them have even begun to feel resentment towards each other or their children. They often feel like life will never be “normal” again, and it is beyond rewarding to help them discover that it can be!
To learn more about Lullaby Consulting, visit their website, facebook page or contact them directly.
Telephone: (306) 541.7066 or (306) 539.0080