Should I Pay for Baby Sleep Advice?
August 13, 2013 10:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering paying for a sleep consultation (examples here and here) because we are getting pretty worn out with Baby Tafetta and her sleeping issues. Has anyone tried these? Is there someone else to recommend? Should I continue just reading random experts and waiting for things to get better? Is all of this really just because of the recent events of the past month and now we're just trying to get back to where we were?

In the spectrum of sleep problems of the 9 month old, Baby Tafetta is right in the middle.*

We moved her to her permanent room next to Big Brother about a month ago because she was consistently waking only once a night. Since then, she has started teething, probably hit the 9 month sleep regression, had a mild stomach virus, got a cold with fever and at least one ear infection. Girl has had a rough month.

She now wakes at least once a night and takes a giant feed. She may wake other times, but we try to let her cry it out because she will usually go back to sleep .... except that she's now right next to Big Bother and we don't want her to wake him up too. Last week, she was up twice at least two out of three nights.

At daycare, her naps during the day have gone to almost non-existent (which might be related to the fact that they have them sleep in swings while at home she sleeps in a crib - I may ask them to let her sleep in a crib rather than a swing since she's not swaddled anymore). At home, she does better with naps. She's still in a good mood, but she's become a lot more picky with solids and so it's harder to get her little tummy filled with things that will keep her full longer.

My mind is becoming a soup of the advice that I've read over the years and I'm beginning to think that I'm just missing something that only an expert can impart. Is this just sleep deprivation talking or can this person actually give me concrete steps to take to get her to where we want her?

*She has slept through the night on a handful of occasions. I fully recognize that her sleep habits are probably still pretty normal, but we are big on sleep training and want her sleeping through the night as soon as possible because we are both super tired and she needs that time to grow, recharge, and just be her awesome little self more.
posted by tafetta, darling! to Human Relations (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't think a consultant can really help here. No one is going to know your kids better than you. It's just hard.

When our second moved into the same room with our first, there were no shortage of nights when everyone was awake crying. We made it through. You'll make it through too. You know because you're an experienced parent that many, many, MANY things will be different three months from now, both with your infant and your older child, right? This will almost certainly be one of those things.

Hang in there.
posted by Sublimity at 10:16 AM on August 13, 2013

I'm consistently amazed at the amount of crying my sleeping child can tolerate. If it's happening around bedtime, I just apologise to her and say he'll quiet down soon. Maybe yours is old enough to accept this and sleep through it? God knows I'm tired enough to sleep through the cries if I didn't have to get up and feed the baby.
posted by sunshinesky at 10:17 AM on August 13, 2013

Best answer: Yeah, has she actually woken up Big Kid with the crying? Mine sleeps right through it if she's already asleep when it's happening.

For the teething, are you loading her up with pain killers? Almost every time mine stopped napping, I'd realize (often days later) that they were teething. Once I started on the combined doses of tylenol and advil/motrin, they'd be able to sleep again.

Agreeing with Sublimity, I don't think a sleep consultant can really help you during this time since everything kind of has a cause, kwim? Maybe you and your husband can trade off nights or something like that?
posted by dawkins_7 at 10:25 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We've been having sleep issues too, with our previously great sleeper, and I too have been drowning in all the books and sleep advice. I've talked to moms who used sleep consultants, and this is what I've heard:

1. Home visits are expensive, but if you just need a little support, some will give you phone/email consults for a lower fee.

2. Most people who have done it seem to think it helped a little. Like going from 2 wakings to 1, etc. A minority either found it dramatically changed their lives for the better, or didn't help at all.

3. The consultant won't be there in the middle of the night. They will help you make a plan and provide support, but at the end of the day you're still the one on the front lines. If you just want some relief, a night doula is not a terrible option to give you a day or two to recharge and catch up on sleep.

I think most of the sleep experts agree that daytime sleeping is the key to good nighttime sleeping. Not sleeping at daycare really concerns me, and I think you should focus on that first. I would ask them to switch her to a crib or cot, and make sure they are following a schedule that makes sense for your kid. Does she take naps during the day on weekends?

Also, it sounds like this has been a perfect storm kind of month for the baby. Maybe all of you would benefit from a couple of resets. Super early bedtime for everyone, take her to bed with you if she finds that comforting, nurse/feed as much as she needs and just focus on maxing out the number of hours she is sleeping. Chronic sleep deprivation is a vicious cycle.
posted by annekate at 10:49 AM on August 13, 2013

Best answer: Some thoughts in response to your various questions:

1) babies are nearly incapable of waking older siblings. in fact, children under 12 can routinely sleep through fire alarms. you're probably making things worse with your intermittancy on "cry it out," so stick to your guns.

2) waking once per night at 9 months is pretty great.

3) sleeping poorly due to illness and teething is normal. sorry about that. :( more tylenol at wake time (and maybe nap time?) can help.

4) solids don't help a baby sleep; in fact, breast milk or formula are about as calorie-dense a food as you can feed them, so don't worry about food in relation to this sleep issue. definitely only formula at the night feed, in dim light, etc.

Overall, this seems like a normal kid going through a normal-but-frustrating period of torturing you with sleep interruptions. I'm with those above who think a professional isn't really needed here, just an extra dose of This Too Shall Pass. Maybe you and Spouse can alternate nights, so you can avoid the desperation of complete exhaustion? Good luck!
posted by acm at 11:08 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't really think you need a sleep consultant--all of this really sounds pretty typical. Especially at nine months, where it seems all kids (except the very best of the best sleepers) seem to go through this. 9-11 months was definitely the hardest time for us. Then again, we happen to have the worst sleeper ever (a really sensitive, amazing, and normal kid). Around this time, she was waking up and screaming approximately every 45 minutes, sometimes all night long. Sometimes there was a 2-hour stretch of sleep in there. By around 14-18 months she was only waking up 4-6 times per night, to nurse. And at just shy of two years, she's now a MUCH better sleeper, typically only waking up once a night and going back to sleep easily. AND she's weaned, which I hate to say it, made a big difference for some reason. It took us roughly 21 months to actually feel like we were getting a bit of rest around here. I write all this mainly to add some perspective and give others with bad sleepers hope. Your kid on the other hand sounds like a decent sleeper (not that your sleep deprivation isn't real, and isn't one of the most horrible situations to deal with). Seriously, throw out all the sleep books and don't hire a consultant is my advice.
posted by bennett being thrown at 11:15 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

My kids actually share a room and my second was a terrible, terrible night waker. Turns out #1 can sleep through SURPRISING QUANTITIES OF HYSTERICAL CRYING even when that is going on six feet from him. (Although when I think about it, obviously he could hear the baby waking up a million times a night when the baby was in our room and, for a while, in the hallway because we were all losing our minds.)

Now they both sleep through the night pretty normally and either can sleep through the other's nightmare wake-up involving screaming and sobbing, night-time vomit events involving turning on overhead lights and changing all the sheets, etc. It may not bother Big Brother as much as you worry it will.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:28 AM on August 13, 2013

Best answer: We ended up seeing a child psychologist with an expertise in sleep when my daughter was a little over 2 after two years of sleep issues. In 1.5 visits (over 2 months), her sleep problems were mostly gone. We also found that getting nighttime sleep under control made daycare naps way better. One thing she said that I found helpful is that when your child is having terrible, cranky midday nap wake-ups, it's usually a sign that they are not getting enough deep sleep during the night.

Nothing else the psychologist said was particularly earth-shattering. Her advice was very helpful though. Here's what we did:

1) Kept a sleep log of every time our daughter ate dinner, went to sleep, woke up, and cried. Same thing for naps. Whenever her sleep starts getting bad again, we start up the sleep log again. PM me if you'd like the detailed spreadsheet.
2) Looked for patterns from the sleep log and try and be as consistent as possible with sleep times.
3) Maintained a set evening and pre-nap routine.

By the time we saw the psychologist, we weren't doing night feedings but she mentioned that it may be impossible to get our daughter to sleep through the night with night feedings.

Good luck with Baby Tafetta! Sleep issues can be so frustrating. Feel free to contact me if you want to vent.
posted by JuliaKM at 11:29 AM on August 13, 2013

Best answer: First thing I'd do is insist on a change of nap setup for her at daycare. A 9 month old spending all day in a stimulating environment with no nap? Poor baby is probably hideously overtired by the time she gets home, much less gets to bed. It messes with their quality of sleep all night if they are overtired.

Good luck. It's so hard. It gets better!!
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:17 PM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I know people in civilized countries who have easily-referred access to infant sleep specialists via their healthcare systems and have kind of had their sanity saved that way.

I know a couple of people in the US who paid out of pocket for similar assistance and don't regret a cent. They were both referred to psychologists specializing in small children and sleep; one of them was additionally referred for a sleep study in a traditional sleep study lab.

Anecdata, but I think there's a lot of mompetition BS out there about how YOU AND ONLY YOU can help your baby sleep. It is okay to pursue help if you need it or want it or are curious about it.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:51 PM on August 13, 2013

fingersandtoes: "First thing I'd do is insist on a change of nap setup for her at daycare. A 9 month old spending all day in a stimulating environment with no nap? Poor baby is probably hideously overtired by the time she gets home, much less gets to bed. It messes with their quality of sleep all night if they are overtired."

Completely agreed, and I have to ask- am I living in some kind of bubble that I think napping a 9-m.o. in a swing is a bit bonkers? My son has consistently wanted to nap on his side or stomach (or face-down, ass-up) as long as he's been in his crib, around 4 months.

All in all, your little girl's problems seem totally normal given the circumstances. It'll get better, the key is to find a routine and stick to it.
posted by mkultra at 2:12 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Completely agreed, and I have to ask- am I living in some kind of bubble that I think napping a 9-m.o. in a swing is a bit bonkers?

This seemed odd to me too. But then again, maybe it's just the easiest way to reliably soothe a bunch of babies with different sleep habits.
posted by annekate at 3:00 PM on August 13, 2013

Yeah I'll chime back in to say that the swing nap setup seems very strange. My pediatrician was pretty specific about sleep needing to be in a flat crib for babies to breathe properly, and all the daycares I've ever seen had babies napping in cribs. Hope it works for your girl.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:27 PM on August 13, 2013

Can you use the money for a night nanny for a couple of nights so that you can get several nights' great sleep?

My goddaughter at a year naps in a swing because that's where she likes to sleep. My son slept in the middle of the tile floor for his naps - no blanket, nothing. Just lay down and slept, quite regularly during the day, but did not sleep through the night until he was 4 plus because of night terrors. My daughter at 18 months will nap on a bed or couch with absolutely no schedule or regularity. We've tried different things, but she doesn't respond to them. Some kids thrive on schedules, some don't.

Ask a dozen parents about sleep, you'll get a dozen different ideas and results. Ask them three months later, you'll get another dozen.

I would put the money into a night nanny so you feel rested and can systematically work through the different advice for a week at a time.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:17 AM on August 14, 2013

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