years ago, I was one of the many frantic new moms emailing
Janeen Hayward, a professional baby sleep consultant, in the
middle of the night.
I attended a workshop with Janeen … two weeks ago and am
following her advice on sleep training to get my daughter out
of the practice of nursing/bottle to sleep. … The sleep
training has been working AMAZINGLY: After two days, she
passes out on her own mostly in under 8 minutes. But now she’s
developed a terrible cold. She’s super congested and
uncomfortable. So my question is do I keep sleep training or
go back to our old ways and start again when she’s healed? I’d
be grateful for a response. Thank you so much."
I do not
remember writing this email. I barely remember having this
dilemma with Gracie, our now 4-year-old daughter who sleeps so
well that I have to peel her out from under the covers on
preschool mornings and carry her to the breakfast table.
nervous, naive former version of myself has lived on in my
inbox for years, rediscovered as I searched for Hayward’s
email address for a column I intended to write on the business
of coaching sleep.
2006, Hayward’s Chicago-based company, Swellbeing, has
offered individual consultations, webinars and workshops to
parents with children younger than 5 on topics ranging from
sleep training, positive discipline and new siblings. And this
month, I received an e-blast from a new Naperville business
called Rockabye Sleep Solutions, which promises to help
"families to address a variety of sleep-related concerns,
including fighting bedtime, multiple night-wakings or
transitioning to a toddler bed (to name a few!)."
company’s founders say that while most parents — like me
— eventually get through infant sleeping issues and don’t
look back, baby sleep challenges remain among the most
difficult periods of time that new parents have to get
through. So business is steady for entrepreneurs who offer
encouragement, advice and research-based strategies.
tired, and what they’re looking for is usually a
step-by-step plan," said Sarah LaPorte, owner of Rockabye
Sleep Solutions. "Some emails say, ‘I’m really just
too tired to pick up the phone. Can you help?’"
to solving infant sleep problems have been around for decades
and tend to fall on a spectrum.
side, experts including Richard Ferber, known for his 1985
book, "Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems," suggest
it’s OK to let your child cry for a specified amount of time
as he or she learns to fall asleep. These experts subscribe to
the so-called cry-it-out theory.
other side of the spectrum, some parents are uncomfortable
with allowing their children to cry and subscribe to "no
tears" methods, which incorporate a variety of strategies
— rocking, nursing, co-sleeping — to give a child positive
associations with bedtime.
said she works with parents to determine where their parenting
style falls on the spectrum, then develop a plan accordingly.
approach to the topic of sleep is really on the whole child
and the whole family," Hayward said. "It’s not
slapping on a sleep solution that a parent could hear from a
book; it’s more about looking at all the factors going on
around the child and how some of those things may be things we
need to think more about."
who worked as a patient liaison for Northwestern Medical Group
before sleep issues with her own infant daughter inspired her
to become a sleep coach, received training and certification
from author Kim West, dubbed The Sleep Lady for her collection
of books on the topic. Based on her training, LaPorte, 31,
directs clients first to a method that encourages being with a
child until he or she falls asleep and progressively leaving
the local sleep experts say parents are grateful for the
advice. Hayward says in recent years, she has heard from not
only moms, but also fathers and employers seeking to offer
workshops as part of corporate-wellness programs.
who launched her business in late July, already has a client
list that includes suburban Chicago parents as well as parents
across the U.S. — whom she connects with on FaceTime and
by the time I had my second child last year, I felt far more
knowledgeable as a mom during those trying first few months.
In some ways Maddie was more challenging than Gracie when it
came to sleeping, because of new roadblocks including acid
reflux and a cold at 2 weeks old, courtesy of her older
somehow, the second time around, I managed to get through
without professional coaching.
was because Hayward’s encouraging response was still in my
am delighted to hear that you had such great success with
sleep training! Unfortunately, because of the cold, you’ll
need to help her as much as possible. Of course, you can
always try to put her down before she’s asleep, but if she’s
really miserable, you’ll need to suspend the training until
she’s less congested."