What age baby do you work with?
I am trained to work with babies age 0-12 months. Beyond those ages, I refer out to a wonderful group of colleagues who are specifically trained to work with toddlers and children facing sleep challenges.
Will you ask me to let my baby cry-it-out (CIO)?
No. I will not ask you to do anything you are not prepared for, feel informed about or do not feel right about doing. My approach in working with families is to inform parents, assess for baby's readiness, read what is needed and make suggestions. It is VERY important to me not to have any agenda in regards to what should be done and believe very strongly that each family gets to make informed decisions that best suit their family's needs. Having said that, I am also honest, I will coach you, I will make suggestions and give guidance. But I really see this agreement as a partnership in creating healthy sleep habits. Learning something new is tough for both parents and babies/toddlers. I won’t say that there will be zero crying, because babies sometimes cry. They cry when they are wet, while they are getting their diapers changed, when they are hungry. It is their way of communicating. I don’t want parents to feel like they have failed if their baby cries during sleep changes.
How does sleep training affect attachment?
While their are a lot of claims within current parenting ideologies that sleep training negatively affects attachment, there is no research that supports this idea. The truth is, there are many variables that affect attachment. What we know with sleep is that being emotionally available at bedtime is what keeps cortisol levels at healthy rates. Being emotionally available means being able to read your child’s cues, and this includes knowing when to give them time and space to practice a new task. In my work, I focus on increasing emotional availability during bedtime. I am happy to share research with any of my clients who are interested.
But, what about that one study that showed increased cortisol levels with CIO?
Good question! That study used extinction method on very young babies (under 16 weeks of age). There was night weaning involved (which many babies at that are are not ready for physiologically). And, here’s the kicker, they took young babies away from their parents and did the study with nurses in a hospital. So, these babies were away from their parents, in a strange place, and forced to night wean at a young age. Yes, that will raise cortisol levels. This was not good research! We simply know better within The Millette Method. We keep in night feeds until the baby is at a healthy age for night weaning, and parents are always present for sleep changes.
Tell me more about certifications and professional affiliations.
You will find certification and membership credentials on many sleep consultants websites, however there is no true certification by a professional/academic board. When you see a certification logo, it simply means that someone has trained with sleep consultant trainers who offer their own certification. These trainings can be anywhere from a certain number of hours to a few months of training. There is also The International Association of Child Sleep Consultants, created by two sleep coaching trainers who also offer certifications. You will see that current members all have the same 2 certifications. This association is on the right track, but more work still needs to be done. There is a new study that recently came out that was looking at sleep consultant training. My hope is that in the near future, there will be a professional board that makes certain that anyone calling themselves a sleep consultant is thoroughly trained/educated in current research. The most important piece is that you find someone you click with and can trust. I chose to study with Dr. Angelique Millette, because she has the most thorough background and training program available. Instead of offering a certification after a certain number of hours or months of training, Dr. Millette works individually with her trainees for 2 full years.
What did other families do to help them be successful during your work together?
They honestly communicate with me during the process. They let me know what works, what doesn’t, what is happening with baby/toddler, and how they are feeling. The more families keep me in the know, the more successful we can be together.
Will I have to night wean my baby?
No. Dr. Millette requests that her trainees become Lactation Educators, so we understand the importance of maintaining supply and the relationship of feeding baby, whether bottle or breast. We communicate honestly about what needs babies and parents have and base our decision about night weaning on many variables. Parents always have the last say in when they are ready to night wean their babies. Some parents are ready as soon as they get the green light from their pediatricians, and other families really enjoy a cozy nighttime feed.
Will you tell us where baby should sleep?
No. My goal is sleep for everyone. I don’t make judgments on where that happens. As a team, parents and I will look at many variables and see what works best for their family. Some families thrive in a shared bed. Some thrive in separate bedrooms. And, there are many choices in between. It’s a family preference, and as long as everyone is getting healthy sleep, I’m in!