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Sleep Consultation 101: The Truth About Baby and Toddler Sleep Consulting

Are you interested in sleep consultation for your baby, toddler or preschooler? The internet is full of conflicting advice but who do you listen to when it comes to reliable information? How do you decide which information is reliable? Who is actually qualified as a sleep consultant?

Filtering through the amount of available information on the internet is no fun right? 😭

From totally conflicting advice to outdated nonsense the internet is full of opinions on how your child should sleep or be parented. 

I get it. I’ve been there. I am there. 

So many people give out advice on parenting and sleep on the internet and social media. They are filled with so much conflicting, and frankly speaking, completely false and outdated information. It can be overwhelming. How do I know this? Through my own experience. Below, I will cover three things you need to know when choosing sources of information, advice, and consultation for your baby or toddler sleep so you can take the struggle and stress out of raising babies.

Sleep Consulting - Woman sleeping beside her baby on the bed

I just mentioned there’s a lot of conflicting information and “experts” out there. So why should you listen to me? Let me start with a bit about myself. 

I’m a child and family therapist specialized  in birth to six year old mental health and sleep. This means I have multiple degrees and the training to understand baby and toddler brain and development. I also have professional skills and qualifications to fully understand your little one’s social, emotional, and behavioral needs, including their sleep. I was a licensed therapist before I had my children. When I had my first child, I realized all the sleep training advice I was hearing made no sense based on my professional knowledge. I suffered and struggled trying to meet unrealistic expectations, was sleep deprived, did not understand why my baby wasn’t sleeping and felt like a failure. You can read more about this experience here. All the information and advice I was getting didn’t feel right for me. I don’t want you to experience the same things.

So what exactly do you need to know about baby and toddler sleep consultation?

1. This is an unregulated field.

As shocking as this might sound, it’s true. Baby sleep consultation, baby sleep training, toddler sleep consultation and training is a completely unregulated field. There are no standards or regulations that guide who can and cannot provide these services or information to you. For example, your plumber can wake up tomorrow and decide to become a baby sleep consultant. 😬

“But Valerie, sleep consultants say they are certified, so someone must be ensuring their service is of quality.”

Truth is, nobody is. The certification is just an online course that anyone can take. There isn’t a regulatory body for it. It’s just a piece of paper that says someone spent a few hours learning this information online. These titles you see such as sleep consultant, sleep coach, sleep specialists, pediatric sleep specialist, holistic coach, sleep coach, do not tell you what qualifications the individual actually has. It doesn’t provide information about their experience or background either. It also does not mean that the information they share is actually up to date and trustworthy.

How can you protect yourself? 

2. Check for additional qualifications.

At this point you might be asking, “how can I tell the difference between people who are     qualified to help me? First, if someone is a coach or consultant, check for additional qualifications. What is their approach to sleep? Does it align with your values? 

There are two groups of people who offer sleep consultation and advice. I do not mean medical sleep consultation here. For this, you need to see a doctor. Here I mean, people who provide sleep advice. 

  • People in unregulated fields such as consultants, coaches, and specialists. 
  • People with another professional designation. These are people in regulated fields such as registered social workers, psychologists, psychotherapist, occupational therapists and more

Take me as an example. I am a registered social worker in Ontario, specializing in child and family therapy. This means, I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in social work, and have obtained additional training, reading and consultation focused on infant and children mental health. In addition, I have obtained certifications and read books to learn more about baby and toddler sleep. I have several years of experience working with baby and toddler sleep and at the time of this article I have helped over 1000 families get sleep without cry it out or sleep training of any kind. Still,  I continue learning more, because information and knowledge about babies and toddlers continues evolving and because I want to continue improving how I support my clients.

How does being a social worker make me different? 

  • My professional background provides me with additional skills and knowledge to truly personalize information and solutions to your individual family’s and child’s needs. 
  • I am able to see your family unit as a whole and not provide fragmented solutions that only focus on the needs of one member. This means we do not sacrifice a mother’s mental health to meet the baby’s needs. We also do not sacrifice the  baby’s mental health to meet parent’s needs for sleep. Both are equally important. 
  • I can refer you to the right professionals  if the issues you are experiencing are medical or if another professional beyond my scope is better suited to help.
  • I know when the thing you need help with is outside my scope. That means – I won’t try to help you with something if I am not competent and qualified to help with it. 
  • I am guided by ethical principles. I am obligated to always put your interests first. Unregulated professionals are not guided by such ethics and can (and often do!) put their business needs above your best interest. This can appear in their marketing and how they actually work with families.

3. Consider your personal values when choosing

“Hey Valerie, that is good to know but some social workers, psychotherapists, or psychologists support sleep training or the cry it out method. How come you disagree with them?” 

The issue here is there is huge variation among professionals, even with the same educational backgrounds because their education includes additional specialities. A good example is that not all clinical child and family therapists are specialized specifically in the area of infant and child mental health, particularly the age group of birth to six years old. It is an age group with unique needs and information. In order to meet these needs, and understand this group, the appropriate, and specialized, knowledge and understanding is required. Unfortunately, when it comes to baby and toddler sleep consulting, even professionals offer sleep consultation without the additional training because they may not have the full understanding of the unique needs of this age group. This is what results in the support for the cry it out method of sleep training.

Now that you are better equipped to make a choice regarding baby and toddler sleep consultation, how can your insurance benefits help you with it? There are many perks when working with a registered professional and this is one of them. Take some time to review what is covered by your insurance benefit in your specific location. You’ll be surprised how much you can take advantage of.

Benefit Covered Sleep Consultation

Are you in Ontario? Then I have great news for you! 

Since I am a registered social worker in Ontario, all of my services may be covered by your insurance benefits provider.🎉 This is another perk of going with a registered professional. In Ontario, we have a specific virtual clinic, Talkin’ Sleep Clinic, dedicated to serving Ontario clients. We have an entire team including another social worker, occupational therapist and counsellors who are all consulting alongside me. Together, we make sure you are getting up to date, high quality support and advice in line with our professional obligations. 

None of our sleep coaches or therapists will ever tell you to not co-sleep or bed share if it is something that works for you. We will never ask you to stop or change breastfeeding in order to support your couple relationship or child’s sleep. These are simply unnecessary when you have a true understanding of children’s sleep. We tailor our advice to what’s important to you and place your values center.

Why? Because you deserve the best. 

If you’re still asking these questions: do I want to sleep train my baby? What really is my parenting philosophy? Is what I’m doing right now in line with my values? I have a fun quiz you can take that will help you figure these out. The quiz is based on sleep and parenting philosophy. Once you’re done, you will receive a FREE sleep education checklist in your email. This checklist is filled with resources that are aligned with your sleep philosophy.

Would you like to know what normal infant and toddler sleep should look like? In this free quick guide, you will find that and a lot more information that will help you get amazing sleep.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

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Have you taken our sleep philosophy quiz?

Not sure how to approach sleep with your family? With the help of this short buzzfeed style quiz you can find out your sleep philosophy.

Once you're done--we'll email you a sleep education checklist to help you dig into your unique approach to sleep.