Having some troubles with sleep training? We got you! Here are some tips and tricks from the expert! Hope you enjoy!
Tell us about yourself
Hi! I’m Maria Escola. I’m a mom, a wife and a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach and Certified Baby & Child Sleep Consultant based in Langley, BC. I work with parents helping their families sleep well again. I experienced sleep deprivation first hand. It was really tough for me to be a good mom, wife and friend when I was so tired. After my son’s sleep transformation, I became very passionate about helping other moms and babies sleep well. I truly believe that parents enjoy parenthood, even more, when they are well rested.
What is a sleep consultant and what do you do?
As a Certified Baby & Child Sleep Consultant, my passion is to help families find restful nights. When parents are sleep deprived life and parenting are harder! I meet with the parents and we create a step-by-step plan together to gradually start implanting changes in their little one’s sleep routine. During the process, my job is to support and guide parents every step of the way. I work with my clients for at least 3 weeks to give their children time to learn good and healthy sleep habits.
What is your sleep philosophy?
The goal of my gentle sleep philosophy is to protect the parent-child attachment. Babies need their parents’ support and love during the learning time, exactly as they need them when they are achieving new milestones or learning new things. And parents want to respond to their babies and know that they are not abandoning them. This is completely normal and is the foundation of my gentle sleep philosophy. I do not use the cry- it- out method and I’d never recommended stopping feeding or responding to a baby. I do not believe that letting the children cry for hours and hours is teaching them something. My work respects the beautiful bond and trust formed between parents and their child.
How did you start in this profession?
When my second baby was born, he decided that sleep was not his priority! It was a very hard time for me as a mom and wife. I started feeling depressed and lost not knowing what I was doing wrong. Once I was able to help my baby sleep better, I was able to be the person and mom I wanted to be. I was happy, rested and joyful again, and so was my baby! It was the best thing I could have done for my family. I realized that motherhood and sleep deprivation don’t necessarily go hand in hand and my passion to help other moms began.
Why is it important to help a baby learn good sleep habits?
Every baby is different and every family sleep situation should be fully assessed before parents start teaching sleep skills to their children. Once babies have the opportunity to learn self-settling skills, their sleep habits improve and they start sleeping better. This has many benefits not only for the little ones (baby is well rested, happier, usually eats better) but also for the parents. By teaching independent sleep skills, parents ensure that their children are getting the amount of sleep they need to wake up happy and well rested.
What is the process of working with you like? How does it work? What can people expect? I work with the parents for about 3 or 4 weeks depending on their initial sleep situation. The process starts with the parents filling out a client intake form. We then do a consultation during which we create a personalized plan together. This is very important because parents need to feel comfortable with their sleep plan. Once they start implementing their plan, I follow up with them every day and make adjustments to their plan as needed. It is really teamwork! During the process, the sleep transformation occurs. Babies start sleeping better and therefore the whole family get more rest.
How long does sleep training usually take? It really depends on the case and how committed the parents are to make changes. Since my approach to sleep coaching is more gentle, and I like to introduce changes gradually, it usually takes a few weeks to work on night and day sleep. Naps can take a bit longer to get organized but after three weeks most babies are doing great and parents see a huge difference in their sleep.
When can parents start sleep coaching? The best age to start sleep teaching is around the 6-month old mark. Most babies are physically and cognitively ready to learn self-settling skills by this age. For this reason, the process tends to be easier and less frustrating for both—baby and parents. Some parents are ready to start gently shaping their baby’s sleep habits earlier, and that is okay as long as they work with a sleep consultant with specific training in that age range. Also, I recommend that before starting any sleep teaching process, parents ask their paediatrician if their child is ready.
What are some tips to help children sleep well?
There are some easy things parents can do to help their little one sleep well.
- Choose an early bedtime.The best time to put a baby or toddler to bed is sometime between 6 and 8 o’clock in the evening. This ensures that their children will be able to get a solid night of sleep.
- Create a predictable bedtime routine. Consistency and predictability are really important to babies and toddlers. When they know what to expect at bedtime, it makes it much easier for them to make the transition from waking to sleeping.
- Spend some “special times” with your child. A few times during the day, go to your child’s room and have fun with him! Play, laugh, make eye contact and cuddle him! Making sure that your little one’s emotional tank is full by the end of the day will help them feel loved and connected. Children and toddlers in particular need that parent-child connection to be able to sleep better at night.
If you had to give sleepless parents a word of encouragement or support, what would you tell them?
I would like them to know that they are not alone! Sleep is one of the most common concerns for parents. The good news is that there is hope! Babies and small children can learn good sleep habits and become great sleepers! I’d recommend that they reach out for help if they have realized that their current sleep situation is no longer working for their families. With a good holistic sleep plan, every piece of the sleep puzzle can be put in its place, and when that happens, parents and babies start sleeping.
Maria Escola, Certified Baby and Child Sleep Consultant and Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, has been working with families all over the world as an infant and toddler sleep consultant since 2011. Have any baby sleep questions for Maria? She can be contacted through her website www.sleepymiracles.com or by phone at 604.788-3044