Why would you call a sleep consultant? I can’t speak for others, but here were my reasons for caving with my second:
•I was determined not to fall again into the sleep black hole that is still our first child
•I wanted to start on the right foot this time
•It’s the only advice anyone ever offers when you moan about sleep
•I wanted to throw money at the ‘problem’ and for it to disappear
And it did. It really did. Yes it took months and we worked really, really hard at it, but it worked. It was sound advice – the same advice I’d seen on any mum’s chat forum when you google it, it’s nothing revolutionary – but I suppose you’re not paying for the advice, you’re paying to have someone at the end of the phone telling you to keep going. I still don’t really think it’s the right thing to do and I don’t agree with a lot of it, but hey you gotta do what you gotta do. For anyone thinking about doing it, here’s a handy lingo breakdown:
• Grumbling. A sleep consultant will always tell you it’s normal for your child to ‘grumble a bit’ when you put them down, and not to disturb them in this as it’s a natural part of the going to sleep process. After two days and endless hand-wringing, I realised what they meant here. The first sleep consultant I used assured me there would be no tears before bedtime if we did it her way. I text her, heart in my mouth, the first time I tried to put her down for a nap: I can’t do it, she’s screaming the house down, it’s not working!!! When we spoke, she assured me that what I meant was she was grumbling a bit and that was OK. I don’t think she could even hear my anguished reply over the screams that were shaking our old house to its (worryingly shallow) foundations. Before you start this process, you’ve got to take this no tears thing with a pinch of salt*.
• She’s just a little baby. This is the one that annoys me the most, and not because I disagree with it. The first time we turned to someone for advice, it was her default response when I reported it wasn’t working. Ah bless, she’s still so little (precisely why I had wanted some gentle tips to set good sleep habits rather than do it the hard way later). After the third or fourth time she’d murmured this sympathetically down the phone to me, I wanted to throw it against the wall – happy enough to take the money though knowing her age weren’t ya.
• Comforter. Am I the only one who finds this whole concept so sad? Sleep consultants are so fixated on comforters as it transfers their attachment from you to their teddy/blanket etc. It makes perfect sense, it’s probably perfectly healthy and lets them go to sleep happily and independently bla bla bla – oh, and it works. Still, the way Pearl clings on to her stripy elephant when I put her in her cot breaks my heart every. single. time.
And there you have it. If you’re thinking about doing it, do. The support they give you is worth every penny, and just remember it’s probably only natural their sensible, reasonable bad cop role will bring out the resentful, over-emotional, guilt-ridden, gibbering good cop in you. Or . . just me perhaps. And if you’re wondering, but at what price a good night’s sleep? – then you’re not broken yet, and more power to you. And hey, if you ever do falter, rest assured they’ll be more then happy to cost it up for you.
*I know there are many sleep consultants who will disagree with this. Good luck to them.