My Experience with a Baby Sleep Consultant
When I had a baby, I knew going in that I would be getting MUCH less sleep - but what I didn't know is how much it would affect me 🥴 paired with my full time job and trying to keep up with my Instagram side hustle and social life, it was a LOT.
Sofia started sleeping through the night around 4 months, but naps were rough, to say the least. They were super hit or miss - typically lasting around 45 minutes, if she took a nap at all. And if we were at my mom's house, forget it. There was way too much going on and too many people around for her to want to nap. So if my mom watched her for the day, she would literally be up for 7-8 hours at a time - and her wake window should have been 2 hours, max. She would come home miserable and overtired, and an overtired baby just makes bedtime even harder.
We finally reached our breaking point when Sofia was 6 months old. She wasn't napping well still and she was miserable. We still were rocking her to sleep every night (BIG mistake on our part) so any time she woke up during the night she needed us to help her get back to sleep. She also still slept in her bassinet in our room (I was too nervous to have her sleep in her crib) but was quickly outgrowing it. I Googled baby sleep training and was completely overwhelmed by all of the articles and advice I found...I had no clue where to even start. I followed a few different baby sleep experts on Instagram and started doing research on which one was right for us.
I first started with the Taking Cara Babies 5 months-25 months nap guide. It had a lot of useful advice, but I had so many questions that came up while trying to implement it that it wasn't helping as much as I thought it would. I had talked to Dan about working with a sleep consultant (they can be kind of pricey) but I thought the 1:1 help would be most beneficial for us, and he totally agreed.
At this point I had talked to Cameron (@cameron_sleepshopnurse), a baby sleep pro from Sleep Shop Consulting, a couple times on Instagram. She even sent me a personalized 6 month schedule for Sofia, but I couldn't get her to nap as long as she was supposed to. After much discussion with Cameron, we purchased a 1 week sleep package with her. You all know I'm all about a good deal, and thought $325 was a little steep to help my baby sleep - but you guys. It was SO. WORTH. IT. I would pay triple that to get the results that we did.
The biggest perk of this package was that I got access to Cameron literally 24/7. And when I tell you I used her that often...I'm not kidding 😂 I texted her ALL. DAY. Especially the first few days. I'm sure she was sick of seeing my name come up on her phone! I would text her as soon as Sofia was up, and she would help me work out a schedule for the day, work through any kinks we might be experiencing, troubleshoot, etc. She is truly a lifesaver. A Godsend, if you will.
I will tell you, it was hard at first. Especially because we decided to transition Sofia to her crib and sleep train all in the same week. There were a few rough nights, and then she started to get used to it.
It's important to start with the ideal sleep environment for your baby. A dark room (blackout curtains are your best friend), a sound machine, and usually somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees, although all babies are different. Sofia runs pretty warm so she doesn't mind if the temp is a little lower than 68! We were doing all of those things with Sofia, but sometimes the perfect environment isn't enough to get these little babes to sleep well.
Cameron walked us through everything we needed to do once we put Sofia down if she started crying. She helped me with my mom anxiety (which was very high while listening to her cry) and reassured us the whole entire time. Some nights were harder than others and required a lot of patience, but after a few days we finally got into a groove. Cameron always stressed that patience and consistency are key, and they still are to do this day!
Navigating naps was the same way. Something I learned from Cameron is that babies have sleep cycles just like we do - but we're able to bridge them much easier. And if we wake up during the night, it's easy for us to fall back asleep. For babies, their first sleep cycle ends around 45 minutes, and their next one begins. If they don't have enough sleep pressure (haven't been awake long enough so they aren't tired enough to push through that sleep cycle) or have the skills to put themselves back to sleep independently after that first sleep cycle, they'll end up only taking a 45 minute nap, which isn't beneficial for baby (or usually you 😂).
Sofia was a 45-minute nap queen, and they really didn't do anything for her. After working with Cameron, Sofia learned how to push through the end of that first sleep cycle and into the next, bridging them together and finally sleeping through them. Her naps went from 20, 30, 45 minutes to 1.5-2 hours. She was a different baby after that!
One of the best parts about all of this is now even when she's at my mom's, she goes right down for her naps. It's a HUGE improvement. She wakes up happy and my mom doesn't have to worry about if she'll sleep that day or not.
Another thing I love about Cameron is that she has always stressed the importance of maintaining your normal life throughout all of this. I love taking Sofia places and don't necessarily want my life to revolve around when she needs a nap. Cameron helped me learn how to create flexible schedules as well as helping Sofia learn how to be flexible with where she naps, if we need to do a nap while we're on the go.
I truly cannot recommend Cameron enough - she has been a lifesaver! Not only for me and Dan's sanity (😅) but for Sofia's well-being too. She's a happy, rested little girl and I am so thankful for Cameron and her expertise. I would 100000% do it again, and Dan says he would, too.
If you're interested in sleep consulting for your baby (or toddler!) you can message Cameron on Instagram. You can also check out Sleep Shop's website here.