I am always grateful each time parents take this leap of faith and entrust me with their baby's well-being. As a sleep coach, nothing makes me happier than seeing babies AND parents who are well-rested.
Some have wondered how sleep training works with a coach. So I've asked the moms I've worked with to share their personal stories. I hope their experiences will help those of you who may feel alone in your journey of parenthood.
I had postpartum depression By Patty de Belen, mom to 8-month old Justin
My son was 6 months old when a psychiatrist diagnosed me with postpartum depression. To help alleviate my situation, I read books on sleep and decided to give it a try on my own. But my son still woke up every night and took very short naps even after a month of trying. Desperate and more anxious even with antidepressants, I finally sought help.
I don’t panic now whenever Justin cries because I've learned how to assess the cause of his disrupted sleep. A few mothers told me they could have done the same thing without help, but personally, the training and guidance I received couldn’t match those “unsolicited” advice.
Gabrielle’s guidance taught me how to assert my decisions as a mom and to understand my son has his way of sleeping. Justin was able to sit up, crawl and was less fussy immediately after sleep training. He was also able to soothe himself back to sleep even when teething. I couldn’t thank Gabrielle enough for the support and guidance she has given me!
A month after sleep training with Gabrielle, my psychiatrist informed me that I was ready to be weaned from the antidepressants and will be off them before the year ends—two months earlier than the original plan. My psychiatrist attributed Justin’s improved sleep to my well-being.
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“I don’t panic now whenever Justin cries because I've learned how to assess the cause of his disrupted sleep.”
I was worried about my daughter's development by Em Somera-Chua, mom of two
Everyone who sees my daughter says she seems so happy and “healthy” without knowing the real story. At 6.5 months, she rejected the bottle, refused to nap yet would still wake three to four times every night for direct feeds. We were in this reverse cycle that I knew wasn’t “healthy” for either of us.
I feared for what lied ahead. Would it mean I couldn’t ever leave my baby? Would I have to rush home each day so my daughter would feed and sleep? Would I ever sleep at night again? Above all, I worried for my daughter’s development. I was sure she wasn’t getting adequate nutrition and optimal sleep.
I read so many parenting books, but the problem with having access to so much information is it can become paralyzing—it makes it even more difficult to pin down how and where to start. I was also very sleep deprived and wished I had someone to distill all this info and who could guide me on what to do. I didn’t want to mess things up further!
It’s so natural for a mom to be sensitive to her baby’s needs. It’s automatic for us to respond to every sound or gesture the baby makes immediately. In sleep training, I learned to distinguish these cues, which signaled a real “need” versus baby just expressing herself—she IS, after all, a human being with a right to express herself even if she can’t yet speak.
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Working with a sleep coach honed my listening skills. I had to find a balance among my coach’s instructions, my intuition as a mom and following my daughter’s cues. I learned when to respond and when to practice restraint. It was so empowering to experience how as young as 6.5 months, my baby and I were communicating.
There’s so much pressure on moms today to “do it all” and to do it right. People think breastfeeding, for example, comes to a woman naturally—it doesn’t! If I had not enlisted a lactation consultant day 1, I would not have been successful in breastfeeding my daughter.
The same is true with infant sleep and working with a sleep coach. When we chose to address sleep issues, it meant looking at and making adjustments on all aspects that impact my baby’s development, even feeding and play. The result is a baby who is well-taken care and a happier, well-rested mommy. It was only after sleep training that I felt I can “mother” with ease and grace.
“ It was so empowering to experience how my baby and I were communicating.”
I hated hearing my baby cry By Verrome, a happy and well rested mama
My husband and I hired a sleep coach after our unsuccessful attempts at sleep training our baby. I did a lot of research but still could not find solutions to my baby’s sleep problems, which included rocking, early morning wake-ups, inconsistent schedule, and naps. I was at my wits' end when I heard about Gabrielle and her success with many babies. I was excited and terrified in equal measure to the point where I made myself sick (can you say stress-induced diarrhea haha).
I want to deal with my baby’s issues immediately and efficiently to ensure that everyone is happy. I am what you call "allergic to crying." Not only do I not like it, but it also hurts me.
Having a coach to guide and assist me was invaluable. I had someone to help me decode my child’s language. It was the best lesson that I could have received, and I didn’t feel so alone.
Learning that my child can only vocalize through crying and it doesn't always mean it's an emergency have helped me become a much more confident mother. I now know what my daughter is trying to tell me at any given moment.
Today, my child is happy to be in her bed and is growing amazingly—must be all that sleep! Our whole family sleeps like champions and are much healthier and happier.
“I had someone to help me decode my child’s language.”
I had a baby who woke up two to three times a night By Mai Mai
We reached out to our sleep coach when our son was 12 months old. Our sleeping arrangement was challenging, and our growing boy, who wanted to be rocked to sleep, would wake up two to three times a night. We were sleep deprived.
The program was overwhelming at first. I appreciated that Gabrielle didn't present the plan all at once. There were many steps to follow, so it was crucial to be completely transparent with her when we made "mistakes," didn't follow through or relapsed to our old ways. The lack of honesty and trust would have been detrimental to our son's sleep training.
Another factor that contributed to our training's success was my husband and I worked as a team. I took the days, and he took nights. We always communicated about making sure that we were consistent with the program. For days, all we did was assess how we handled naps or night wakings. We were exhausted, but it didn't last long. Once we became consistent, our son started sleeping through the night.
There are numerous sleep programs available online these days, but having someone to evaluate every nap and night waking allows you to address your child's sleep associations effectively. Having a sleep coach also helped us understand our son's cues better. Having her there to hold our hand through the entire process helped us. You need to listen to her and trust that she will help your whole family get the best sleep possible.
Although the process was hard, getting a sleep coach was one of the best decisions we’ve made as parents.
Sleep coach Gabrielle Weil trained with two UK-based baby sleep trainers using various sleep training methods. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.