There are a lot of people who claim to be sleep consultants these days, and when you’re a tired parent, it’s easy to hire the first person who says they can help. Not so fast! Before you hire a sleep consultant, be sure to do a little research to make sure that the person you are hiring is truly the right fit for you.
These top tips for hiring a sleep consultant are an easy place to start. Remember, every child’s sleep challenges are unique, and the right sleep consultant will help overcome these challenges in accordance with your parenting beliefs and values.
1) Ask about education and training
There are people who claim to be sleep consultants after reading a few books. There are people who claim to be sleep consultants after raising a challenging sleeper. There are sleep consultants who have taken an online course but have had no interaction with real educators or real families.
In reality, there are less than a handful of four- to six-month programs that lead to sleep consultant certification. These programs are live, interactive, and intensive, and require you to work with real families struggling with infant, toddler or preschool sleep issues prior to obtaining certification. Aside from being a certified sleep consultant, ask your prospective consultant about their other professional credentials.
2) Be sure you can choose an approach that is right for your family
There are many ways to resolve sleep issues but there are some consultants that have only been educated about one approach. What’s right for one family is not necessarily right for another family. One size does not fit all. Look for a consultant who can offer you several approaches and one that encourages your input to determine an approach that’s a good fit for your child and your family.
3) Get a personalized, tailor-made sleep plan
There are some consultants who have one sleep plan for each age group and that’s it, regardless of your unique issues. There are consultants who cut and paste. Make sure that you’re getting a sleep plan that’s personalized for your child and family.
4) Find out what sort of follow-up support is offered
Yes, there are consultants who will quickly email you an inexpensive sleep plan. Be cautious about purchasing a plan that does not offer follow-up. Your consultant is your coach as you implement your sleep plan. His or her ongoing motivation, support and follow up are critical to your success.
5) Look for websites, online reviews, or social media sites
Although you never really know people until you’ve met them, a website with client testimonials does tell you that your consultant is serious about his or her business and has clients to back up their stated experience.
6) Be sure goals and time frames seem realistic
While there are occasional star sleepers out there, they’re often the exception rather than the norm. Make sure that your consultant conveys realistic outcomes and time frames for your child’s situation.
7) Learn if there is a network of support
While there are some sleep issues that are easily and quickly resolved, some situations are extremely challenging. It’s best to find a consultant who is capable of tapping into a network of sleep colleagues to collectively solve unique challenges.