Like the rest of the baby industry, the sleep one is flooded with products marketed to help your little ones get to bed; ranging from bath bubbles to bears that shush, cribs that rock and lights which project an array of stars onto a bedroom ceiling. Parents soon realise that they’ve essentially been sold something aesthetic but ineffective and as the exhaustion starts to take hold, they head back online to search for help.
Unfortunately, the sleep training industry is unregulated. That’s correct…and deeply concerning! Anyone can set up and call themselves a sleep consultant/coach/practitioner. Worryingly, you don’t even need to have any experience of working with children. Someone saying they are qualified should be reassuring but this isn’t always the case as some course providers will accredit their own courses and certification. As well as this, many don’t require participants to have any previous experience at all. Whilst the course may be regulated, those attending it are not!
If you have a good website, are savvy on social media and understand algorithms, it can very quickly give a misleading impression. Who hasn’t been enticed by a click bait headline or brought a product that is going to change your life only to find out it is a dud?! You are at what feels like your lowest ebb and an advert or paid google ranking seems to be the answer to your prayers. Please remember; dazzling content does not a good sleep consultant make!
In the twelve years we have been running I.S.C, we know how much the industry has grown in popularity so who do you trust to come into your home and how do tired parents confidently separate the wheat from the chaff? We are contacted weekly by families who have had a bad experience or been given poor advice so we hope this guide will help.
1. Who are they? Any professional would understand how daunting it feels to choose from thousands of potentials and be more than happy to have a no obligation chat first, so you feel reassured about working together. Talk to them and establish a rapport so you can feel confident that they are the right fit for your family.
2. Background and training: What is their experience? How long have they been working with children for before calling themselves an expert? What type of training do they have? Think of it in terms of being in court; would you want a lawyer representing you or just someone who has done a little online course and likes the title?! Someone who is trained at level 5 and above should give you the reassurance that they hold high professional standards. Please also look out for insurance and consultants with enhanced DBS certificates, especially if they are coming into your home.
3. Transparency: A good sleep consultant will talk you through the research-based methods and let you (the parents) make an informed choice over how to proceed with settling your child. It is not a one size fits all approach and the best method is the one that fits best with your family. Please also check that you know what you are paying for in terms of total cost and expected outcome.
4. Holistic approach: Good practise would involve taking a detailed history first and asking for a recent record of feeds and sleep. As tempting as it may be to book with whoever is available soonest, looking at the whole picture is an essential process as a hungry baby or child in discomfort will not settle, regardless of the technique used.
We hope this will give the families we work with the reassurance that they are working with trained, experienced professionals who maintain high professional standards, rather than someone with the gift of the gab who fancied giving it go. We wish you every success with this process and importantly, many sleep filled nights too.