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I’m a Sleep Consultant But I Don’t Always Follow the Rules

I recently posted that my 2.5 year old took a 15-minute nap at daycare. One commenter suggested that this was ironic considering my profession. Actually, no it’s not ironic at all.

Yes, I’m a sleep consultant and I spend my days (and nights!) helping families achieve restful sleep. But that doesn’t mean that my daughter sleeps perfectly 100% of the time. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes panic when she does what children do sometimes – have bad days and nights! Sometimes the sleep “rules” get thrown out the window in my house.

From conception until age 3, a child’s brain grows rapidly. New physical and cognitive skills pop up seemingly overnight. I remember after my daughter’s 6-week growth spurt when she looked up at me and smiled for the first time. And the day she finally got the hang of crawling and learned to pull up to a stand. I remember when she suddenly started speaking in sentences. And I also remember the sleep disruption that occurred with each of these developments.

Just because I’m a sleep consultant does not mean that my child isn’t like every other child out there. She’s growing, changing, and developing each day.  

It also doesn’t mean that I know exactly what to do when my daughter’s sleep goes haywire. I’m really, really good at giving other parents a clear plan and cheering them on from the sidelines. But sometimes I need the same for myself! You know, kind of like therapists need a therapist.

When people think of sleep consultants, they often think of “rules” around sleep. Truthfully, I give guidelines that work based on individual situations. Sometimes these guidelines may feel like “rules.”

But the only rule that I truly feel is essential is figuring out what works best for you and your family.

Case in point – when I worked with my sleep consultant, she told me not to let me daughter fall asleep while nursing. I do believe that this is important for some babies who are literally unable to fall asleep without a boob in their mouth. But for my daughter, nursing to sleep for naps was the best way to get her to rock out a great nap. So I nursed her to sleep for naps despite the “rules.”

Another truth bomb: I now cosleep with my daughter for naps on the weekends.

Yes, you heard me right! Sometime shortly after her second birthday she was clearly struggling with naps and some newly intense separation anxiety. I stressed over this for several weeks until I gave in to her request one day to nap in “mommy’s bed.” This went against the “rules,” but I decided to listen to her and this became our new norm. This does not work everyone! And I totally get that. But it works for us. And she still sleeps beautifully in her own crib at night.

Here’s the thing – my child is just like yours and I am just like you. I struggle sometimes with the rules and I struggle to know what’s best. It can be a great comfort to remember that what works for you and your family is more important than following strict rules.

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