My qualifications...

What exactly is a certified sleep consultant? What are your qualifications?

 I am a certified sleep consultant of the Sleep Sense method. This means I’ve studied and undertaken intensive residential and distance training with Dana Obleman, the founder of the US-based Sleep Sense™ programme.

When my son turned two, I found myself desperately in need of help with his sleeping, and mine. We were all suffering from sleep deprivation having co-slept since day one. A friend recommended the US-based Sleep Sense™ programme as she had used this successfully with her two children. 

After experiencing first-hand the amazing effectiveness of this method, I decided to become a certified sleep consultant myself. 

Continuing education is very important to me and I stay up to date on everything from reflux and infant digestion to safe sleeping practices and of course newborn, baby sleep & toddler sleep.

My technique...

Is there a certain technique or method that you use?

  I practice the The Sleep Sense™ method with families throughout the UAE. 

This sleep training was created out of a strong belief that healthy sleep habits make for healthy children and as testament to this, to-date more than 57,000 children and their families have benefited from this approach worldwide. 

There are various other sleep training approaches, but the reason that the Sleep Sense™ method is so effective and resonated with me and my clients in Abu Dhabi and Dubai so much is that it lets you develop a sleep training plan that you feel comfortable with based on what you know about your child. 

My practice...

How do you practice, or help parents? If they book your services, what is it that they get?

I create a customised child-centric, parent-led sleep plan for each family I work with. In essence, it’s a schedule for 10 days and nights of when to eat and sleep. The sleep plan varies depending on the age and needs of the child or children.

The sleep training process is initiated with a no-obligation telephone consultation to understand the family’s situation and explore whether my method could work for them. If we both feel it can, I visit them at home in Abu Dhabi or Dubai to outline how they can create an optimal sleep environment and discuss the steps the parents need to carry out to ensure they are fully prepared to follow the schedule I then create for them, and feel confident and empowered to do so. Once they begin to implement this, I am on hand to support them as they need it via telephone calls and messages.

The time we usually work together lasts two weeks.

Breastfeeding...

Can I continue breastfeeding while sleep training?

 ABSOLUTELY! 

I’m a huge supporter of breastfeeding – it is such a great bonding experience for you both, not to mention the health benefits! But it’s your choice, always!

As I create your bespoke sleep training plan, I don’t focus on how you feed your child, just that they are getting enough to eat and at the right times of day while you’re teaching them to sleep.

Co-sleeping...

Can I co-sleep while sleep training?

 No. When families are ready to stop co-sleeping because it’s not working for everyone (you, your husband and your baby), then that’s where I come in. 

My role is to help you transition your baby or toddler into their own bed in their own room. 

This said, if putting your little one in their own room is just too hard or simply not an option due to space, then we can definitely work with room sharing, just not bed sharing.

Crying...

Do you believe in cry-it-out?

No. 

I couldn’t do that with my son, and I would never ask another parent to do something I haven’t done myself!

This said, unfortunately, there will be some crying. If there was a magic wand to make it a cry free experience, I would gladly share it with you. But here’s the thing, babies are just too young to use words and tell you they preferred falling asleep with their bottle for comfort, or on you, or in your bed, or by being rocked, etc, etc. They can’t verbalise this in any other way than a little cry of protest. 

But don’t worry, this is where I come in and my years of experience. I will coach you through handling your little one’s protests as gently as possible. As a SleepSense sleep consultant, I will work with you to create a bespoke sleep plan for your little one, and we can explore the best method for your child to minimize the protests as much as possible within all of your comfort zones.

Using my gentle sleep plan, you’ll be in the room comforting and teaching them how to sleep on their own – you won’t be putting them in bed and simply shutting the door. My plans are tailored to you all, and I listen carefully to your wishes with how you want to handle many different scenarios that could arise so you have the tools to confidently draw on when it’s bedtime.  

Also, please remember that once babies learn how to fall asleep on their own – which can happen pretty quickly – the crying goes away!

Daily routines...

We both work full time – how will that work?

  Together we will create a sleep training plan bespoke to you, your child and daily routine to make it work! 

If you have a nanny / helper supporting you home, it isn’t a big issue either because, presumably, your nanny will follow the plan just as you will. 

I will also be giving you tips on working with your childcare provider, including how to prep your nanny and / or nursery so they follow your wishes and remain consistent with our plan.

My availability...

Approximately how many cases do you work on each month?

  My service is so personalised I find that three clients a week works best for all. 

It gives me the time I need to create the bespoke programme tailored to each family’s lifestyle and the challenges they face, as well as ensuring I am always available to give timely and effective coaching through the implementation stages over the two weeks that follow. 

Don’t worry I do run a waitlist and if you feel you really can’t wait then let’s talk and together we’ll figure out a plan! 

Handling other's opinions...

Why is sleep training a controversial practice for some parents?

  Sleep training can be controversial, but this is due to the common misconception that sleep training simply means that the child will be left alone to cry alone in their room until they eventually fall asleep exhausted, under the so-called ’Cry It Out’ method.

This Is not the only method of sleep training – I offer a gentle programme which is a child-centric, parent-led method that helps families all get a good night’s sleep. It’s based on a gradual withdrawal approach and does not involve excessive crying or causing the child, or parents, emotional discomfort. Parents feel confident as they are present during the sleeping time but they reduce their contact over a course of 10 days. The child acquires the skills of self-soothing and self-reliance, giving them the confidence in their own abilities to fall asleep at bedtime and to go back to sleep if they wake up in the night. 

Is sleep training hard...

What’s the most challenging aspect of sleep training?

 Sleep training can be a bit of rollercoaster ride in the initial stages – like all stages of parenting, it is a process that takes both time and patience. 

Ultimately, consistency is the key to success.  It is crucial in helping children sleep through the night and take good naps on their own. In the initial stages, they may have a good night, then a not so good night, then a few good nights and so on. I am always on hand to reassure parents that this is all part of the process and with time it will become more and more consistent. 

I thrive on the times when parents reach out to me because they are finding things tough because it’s at this point I can remind them of the amazing progress they’re making in improving their child’s sleep habits and bring their awareness to all of the changes and improvements that have been achieved in such a short space of time. Just that little extra reassurance is all that is needed to support and empower the parents to push on. 

The best age...

What's the optimal age to begin sleep training?

  My services can start from even before a child is born! Sometimes I have expectant parents reach out to me as they prepare for their baby’s birth and want to ensure as ideal an environment as possible and I work with children up to the age of 10. 

In terms of an optimal age to begin sleep training, I have found that babies aged 5-7 months respond the quickest. This is due to their stage of development and maturity – they’re young enough to not really notice the changes, but old enough to tolerate structure and routine. 

Will it work...

Can all babies be sleep trained?

I’ve helped the parents of more than 150 children from newborns through to 10 years old successfully train their child to sleep soundly. 

A few parents have told me that their child is untrainable, but that’s never been the case and usually any issues take just a day or two of training to overcome before we begin to make solid progress. 

Who does it suit...

Have you noticed that some cultures are more open or willing to sleep-train their babies, than othe

 I have worked with a diverse range of nationalities here in the UAE. 

I believe some families get more pressure than others as to how their child should be sleeping; this could be down to cultural beliefs or simply the proximity of family members and since we are predominantly a nation of expatriates this can vary wildly which is why my programmes are always bespoke to each family I work with. 

There are different sleeping practices in some cultures and some are not always conducive to sleep training programmes. For example, sleep training requires achieving a level of independence where the child can sleep alone so for cultures who believe firmly in co-sleeping this is not something that is going to be successful, or often even sought out.

Will it last...

Do we need to strain our child as they develop, start teething, etc, etc?

  Parents who sleep train their babies with me can expect to have no regression when teething or through other developmental stages.

For my former clients, any time an issue arises, for example a house move, birth of a sibling, travel overseas, etc, I always tell my parents to reach out to me so I can support them through any changes which may occur.

Overnight stays...

Do you stay the night and do the sleep training for us?

  My expertise lies in fully preparing and providing the right level of support for parents as I help them to sleep train their child. My aim is to ensure that they always feel empowered in managing their child’s bedtime independently of me.

I do offer a home visit service where I can be present at bedtime and overnight if the family require this, however the purpose of this is for me is to be on hand to support the parents and encourage techniques to enable them to feel confident in handling their child’s bedtime and own the sleep training process themselves. 

Top tip...

What is your top tip of parents attempting to sleep-train their babies?

  The key to success in all aspects of a child’s life, regardless of age, is routine. 

Understanding the family’s current and potential routine is where I always start with parents. Anything that parents can handle alone I’m always delighted to hear, but if it’s taking longer than desired, or if more personalised help, guidance and support is needed then the parents should reach out to me. 

With my breadth of experience from the more than 200 children who have successfully sleep trained with my programme, I’m confident that within two weeks everyone can have sweet dreams again!