I recall the difficulties I had with our first when it came to sleep. We tried everything. We followed all the advice we were given. I read sleep routine books and articles. But it was hard! I had heard of baby sleep consultants but didn’t know what they did. So here we interview one to find out all the details! Please welcome Jodie from Mindful Mum who has answered my many questions about what she does and how she does it. We hope you find this as helpful as I have!
Question 1: First off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a baby sleep consultant?
Sure thing – I grew up in beautiful NZ and then spent 12 years living in London, nannying, to begin with. I became a maternity nurse helping new mums with all aspects of day-to-day life with a new baby, including implementing routines and solving sleep issues. Becoming a Midwife had been a dream that finally came true in 2013. Now, I work part-time in the birth unit, and run my own business called Mindful Mum. I feel very lucky to do my two dream jobs. People often say, wow you look like you really love what you do. It’s true!
Question 2: Could you explain to us what a baby sleep consultant does?
I provide education, demonstrations, and tools to guide parents through all the stages of parenthood. I focus on cognitive/physical development, sleep, nutrition, different parenting approaches, baby massage, age-appropriate routines, parent relationships and, mental well-being. By simplifying the conflicting information, I create a plan to suit each family’s needs. I understand that mums come in a million different versions! I strive to promote positive relationships and good sleeping habits, and this creates balance. When the family is in balance, it flows and people thrive.
Question 3: What are the signs that you may need to seek professional help from a baby sleep consultant?
It seems that every man and his dog has an opinion about parenting. Unfortunately, the advice can even differ greatly between health professionals, which leaves new mums confused. Some will reach out for information and support in the very early days, while others will wait until they encounter issues they would like help with. There’s no right or wrong time; it is up to the individual.
Question 4: Is there a good night time routine that parents can follow to help with getting their babies/toddlers to bed and help with sleep at night?
Absolutely!! Bedtime routine is SO important and can start from day one:
- Calm and relaxing bath or wash
- Feed and cuddles – this is a great time to talk about your day together and some of the fun things that happened
- Into bed around the same time each night (awake and aware)
- Bedtime phrase, eg “Time for sleep, Mummy / Daddy loves you.”
Question 5: Could you explain why some babies/toddlers are great sleepers and never have any issues and why some have a lot of trouble sleeping?
There are so many factors influencing sleep: the child’s health, temperament, sleeping environment, family stability, age, opportunities given to self-soothe from early on, tummy time, routine structure, parent’s approach, family style, nutrition and diet, parent’s mental wellbeing and the list goes on! Some children are naturally better sleepers, but the majority of sleep issues I see have some form of sleep-association that has been created along the way, which is fine as it has probably helped. However, when it stops working, it’s important to help them develop independent skills.
Question 6: What are some steps that parents can take to prevent creating bad sleeping habits?
- Putting them down awake and aware at least once a day from birth.
- Swaddling in the first few months helps babies feel calm and relaxed; it also helps contain the startle reflex which will often wake them up.
- Providing a safe, consistent sleeping environment that promotes sleep.
- Always finding opportunities to see what their little one is capable of.
- Having a good understanding of the different developmental stages they go through and how to cope with them, ie wonder weeks.
Question 7: What are your thoughts on self-soothing? Do you agree/disagree with self-soothing? And is there a right or wrong time to start letting your baby/toddler start self-soothing to get to sleep?
Absolutely! Self-soothing and self-regulation are very important to a child’s sleeping ability, for both falling asleep and having restorative sleep. You can start from day one by putting your baby down once a day awake and give them the opportunity to settle. If you catch them at the right time and all their needs have been met, they’ll usually just drop off within a few minutes. As they get older it becomes more important. Babies all have their own way of self-soothing: some will suck their thumb or fingers, some rock their body, turn their head from side to side, make soothing noises, or cuddle their “blankie/comforter”. I feel, through gently encouraging good sleep habits from day one it would prevent big sleep issues down the track.
Question 8: What are your thoughts on the attachment theory and co-sleeping with your baby/toddler?
You can have a healthy attachment with your child regardless of whether they sleep with you in bed or in a cot next to your bed. It is recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) that infants sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed, but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year of life, but at least for the first 6 months. A secure attachment comes from warmth and responsiveness and it includes seeing when your child doesn’t need your help and is ready for the challenges that are part of developing and learning. Physical closeness is important and can be practised in many forms, such as using baby wearing, having baths together, skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding and the list goes on.
“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” — Brooke Hampton
If you want to find out more about Jodie’s services:
Website – www.mindfulmum.com.au
Email – email@example.com