In a relatively short amount of time, we went from never having heard of a sleep coach to hearing about them everywhere.
First, a sleep coach – or sleep consultant – is someone who provides education, advice, and support to help improve a child’s sleep. Some sleep coaches offer services for older children, adolescents, and adults, but I’ll focus on those working with infants and young children under four years of age.
Most sleep coaches help with getting young children and babies to fall asleep easily, sleep through the night, and nap well. Most will thoroughly assess the child’s current sleep patterns before providing an action plan for the parents. Many coaches provide follow-up services to monitor progress and offer adjustments to the plan as necessary.
Coaches may meet with you in person, by phone, by video chat, or may communicate by email. Some sleep coaches will come to your home to work with you or with your child directly.
Do you need a sleep coach?
That depends on whether your child is having problems sleeping. You should discuss your situation with your child’s primary care provider to rule out medical concerns that may be contributing to poor sleep. If it’s determined your child’s sleep problems are behavioral, you may wish to hire a trained sleep coach if doing it yourself seems daunting.
Because the title “sleep coach” does not signify any specific training or certification, I recommend thoroughly reviewing a consultant’s qualifications to determine best if they can help with your specific situation.
Here are some important questions to consider:
What are the person’s background and training, and how long have they been practicing as a sleep coach?
How many families have they worked with?
What are the age range and types of sleep problems the consultant helps manage?
What is the person’s sleep coaching philosophy?
How long will the sleep learning process take?
Are services provided in person or otherwise?
Will they work hands-on with my child?
Will a written plan be provided for my child?
Will follow-up support be provided if the plan isn’t working?
What is the cost, and what is included in the cost?
Many people find they can tackle the behavioral changes themselves after they’ve armed themselves with good information. There are many excellent books on the market that can help pave the way. If you decide to hire a sleep coach, get recommendations from parents in your social circle. If you have several to choose from, interview a few to find the coach that seems like the best fit for your family.