There are several things to consider when choosing sleep support.
Do I need a sleep coach?
Which sleep coach will match my parenting style and my sleep goals?
Sleep support strategies are rarely gentle AND fast. If you need your baby to sleep through the night by next Tuesday, then I'm afraid we are unlikely to be able to work together. My work is not around offering 'magic bullets' or 'quick fixes', but instead sleep support which is respectful of the child and parent.
I won't ever ask you to leave your child alone to 'cry it out', to stop breastfeeding or to introduce formula to 'help' baby to sleep. I won't suggest giving any solid food before at least 6 months, ask you to place your baby to sleep in another room before 6 months or at all if co-sleeping is something you enjoy. I am fully and genuinely supportive of breastfeeding families (in fact I volunteer on one of the national breastfeeding helplines).
All of my work is evidence-based and in line with UK guidance on safe sleep and infant feeding practices. If I feel that your baby is too young and/or their sleep behaviours are normal and healthy for their age, I will recommend that you instead have a BabySteps consultation, which helps parents to understand normal infant feeding, sleeping and behaviour.
Are you trained? Who with?
Anyone can say they are a sleep consultant. It's important to find out a bit about where they trained, who with and when they last updated their training. Research around sleep is constantly updating as do national guidelines about safe sleep,weaning and infant feeding.
My sleep support training is through Holistic Sleep Coaching, which amongst its trainers counts two Professors, four Doctors, and four International Board Certified Lactation Consultants. I like to learn from the best! The Holistic Sleep Coaching Program is accredited at level 5 through Open College Network, the largest vocational awarding body in the UK. I also hold qualifications in maternity nursing, certification in infant colic, reflux & allergies and I am a qualified Breastfeeding Counsellor. I also hold two degrees in education from the University of Cambridge which included the study of childhood development and I'm currently working towards my doctorate. Ask me what I'm currently studying for right now.
I am a member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants and am subject to their code of ethics.
Can you visit me in my home?
I offer home visits in Cambridge and the surrounds, and can also offer London, East Anglia and South East visits at a cost related to my time and travel expenses. A lot of my work, however, is conducted via Skype, Facetime or Botim, which enables me to support clients both nationally and internationally, at a time to suit you. If you want overnight support to help you get started then this may be possible, depending on my schedule.
How complex are my child's sleep needs?
If you have a simple question, for example about how to prepare for international travel, how weaning may affect sleep or other one off query, then I offer a stand-alone phone call with one email follow up containing links or advice. My sleep factsheets are always free and may answer your question already.
If you have spent some weeks or months struggling with your or your child's sleep, then you will benefit from a full consultation, where we explore the whole 24h period, including health needs, breastfeeding, formula or food intake, nap times, bedtime routines and night wakings alongside your parenting values and other household needs. This consultation is based on a comprehensive 72 hour sleep diary and parental questionnaire that I will ask you to fill in before we speak. The consultation is followed up with a detailed written report containing the agreed strategies, the relevant evidence or science behind the strategies or ideas suggested and a comprehensive plan of action alongside tools to help you track and review your progress.
Do you guarantee success or give refunds?
My support is there to help you understand your child's sleep, the factors that may be affecting it, and to use my knowledge, training and experience to suggest ways forward. I cannot be responsible for your parenting choices in adapting the ideas to suit your family, and I can't 'make' a child sleep. The work we do will help give your child the optimum conditions for age-appropriate sleep. As I do not use cry-it-out or controlled crying methods, if your child wakes and needs you, they will alert you to this, rather than staying silent, so that you can responsively parent to their needs. My fee reflects the time I will invest into understanding your family's needs, the training and experience I have and my guidance through the report and subsequent support.
How much support can I have after our consultation?
Some of the suggestions I offer when we meet will be 'quick wins' or ideas you can implement immediately to support your child's sleep, but much of it is around gentle support to achieve long term goals. I offer an initial follow-up period of 4 weeks, which is usually enough to see real change and to start to embed new habits, but you can add to that in fortnightly or monthly blocks until you feel confident that you are ready to continue on your own.