We crave it. We need it. We fantasize about it. It is the forbidden fruit of parenthood. Sleep. We all want it, but it seems as though it is just out of reach. If this sounds familiar and you have children between the ages of birth to 5 years old, keep reading!
As parents, we have all experienced the sleep deprivation that only a little human being can create. If you are like me, falling into a survival sleep rut with a toddler can become frustrating and exhausting. My three-year-old had become accustomed to falling asleep and sleeping in my bed with me every night. He had his side of the king sized bed and I had mine. It worked for a while until I got pregnant and the realization that another human being would be sharing the room with us, creating more sleep disturbances and grumpy days, if I didn’t do something to move my three-year-old to his own bed.
I tried researching online, “how to sleep train a toddler”, but the plethora of resources, processes and suggestions became overwhelming quickly. I tried a few sleep training techniques myself, but I failed miserably and after a few days of crying and protesting I would give in and my three-year-old would be right back in the bed with me at night.
I decided to consult a professional sleep consultant. Little Sleepers, Big Dreamers Pediatric Sleep Consulting seemed like a good fit for me. Kristi Roberts is the founder and owner. She is local to Columbus and is a certified pediatric sleep consultant. She has been helping families since 2016 and before that had experience sleep training her own kids. Kristi offers several different support packages depending on your family’s sleep needs. Her offerings are listed on the website: Little Sleepers, Big Dreamers | Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant (littlesleepersbigdreamers.com).
When I contacted Kristi, she was quick to respond with immediate action steps for me to take to get started with the sleep consultanting process. I completed a questionnaire about our sleep struggles and goals. We scheduled a phone consultation that same week and I quickly realized that Kristi was knowledgeable and experienced. Kristi listened to my personal sleep challenges with my three-year-old. She explained the three main approaches to sleep training a toddler that have proven to be successful.
What I liked about Kristi’s recommendations is that each approach is tailored around the “science” of successful sleep implementation for toddlers. Sleep time, sleep environment and sleep tools that Kristi recommends are based on enhancing a child’s natural melatonin production to ensure better sleep for everyone. Another key component I took from our call was creating more independence on a daily basis for my three-year-old to give him more confidence to sleep alone. Kristi also provided me with some suggestions on how to do that.
After discussing the recommended plan with my husband, we communicated back to Kristi the day we were planning to start implementing it. Kristi was swift and thorough with sending the written plan to me and setting me up with a few accountability tools to help me along the way.
I was excited but dreading the first night of sleep training. Kristi prepared me for the push back and protesting I would receive from my three-year- old. As I was implementing the program we discussed, I remembered one key piece of advice she gave me when we spoke, “no audience, no show”. That was my mantra the first night as my son’s protesting lingered and my patience was being stretched. After my three-year-old was sleeping in his bed the first night, I logged on to the support spreadsheet Kristi provided and completed it with my notes on how things went. Kristi was ready to respond with encouragement and reminders of how to be successful the next night.
The next night, the protesting was at a minimum and my three-year- old slid into his own bed with little fuss. To say the least, I was amazed at how quickly things turned for us and that I was sleeping in my bed without a foot or hand smacking my face in the middle of the night.
What I learned through the process of working with Little Sleepers, Big Dreamers is that every child has different needs when it comes to sleep and not all approaches are going to work for every child. That is why it was nice to voice my concerns and challenges specifically with Kristi, so she could help me navigate the personalized little details that are lost when doing an internet search. I also learned that successful sleep training takes time, patience, accountability and consistency. It’s hard work breaking bad sleep habits, but with a little professional help and support, falling into bed after everyone in the house is sleeping soundly, can be a dream come true.