Everyone has an opinion about how to get your baby to sleep through the night. Strangers on the street, grandparents and even parents who have babies sleeping less than your child will try and tell you “the secret.” Unfortunately, they usually don’t work. Any sleep-deprived parent can tell you that if there was a magic sleep aid, you would be willing to try just about anything to get your little one some shut eye.
Baby sleep is nothing short of the holy grail for new parents…getting your child to do it is miraculous. My daughter was only sleeping for 45 minute increments in the early days and I thought I was going to lose my mind. We were paying night nurses a fortune to spend the night a couple times a week because I simply couldn’t do it on my own (my husband was working long hours). I read every baby sleep book that existed. They all made it seem so easy but when I put their advice to the test, nothing worked. None of the techniques to calm her, or rouse her or keep her belly full worked enough to get my daughter to surrender to sleep.
I was frustrated, exhausted and kind of angry that I spent the small amount of free time I had reading books that didn’t help (Twelve hours by twelve weeks, Happiest Baby on the Block I’m looking at you). I started wondering, are there people who you can hire who will make your baby sleep? After some serious middle-of-the-night Googling, it turns out that yes, yes there are. Baby whisperers exist…and they cost a pretty penny.
This is New York, you can hire someone to do anything. I was at the end of my rope, time to call in the big guns. I’m a logical gal so I tried to rationalize. I was spending tons of money to have a nurse take care of my baby overnight when what I really needed to do was invest in someone to teach me how to solve the problem and get my daughter sleep properly once and for all.
After tons of research (done desperately on my phone with squinty eyes in the middle of the night) I found Dream Team Baby.
Dream Team Baby has a book containing all the nuggets of research and useful techniques. But if you feel desperate and like you need hands-on help (or simply are too tired to even read the book), you can actually hire a Dream Team consultant to help. There are varying levels of involvement, you can have phone consults or even in person overnights.
Dream Team’s sleep consultants set your little one up for success by taking a deep dive into your family’s life to figure out any issues (eating, behavioral, medical concerns) that could be affecting your baby’s sleep long term.
Dream Team Baby comped my experience for purposes of this review. However, there was an understanding that if I was not satisfied, I would share that too. But I digress…
I worked with a Dream Team Baby consultant over the phone, and I must admit, as desperate as I was to believe, I was skeptical. I’m a New Yorker…it’s what we do.
My daughter wasn’t the worst sleeper, but she was only getting about eight hours of sleep each night. And she wasn’t napping. At all. I kept thinking, if change was possible, I would have figured out how to make it happen on my own. We had even shamefully tried a modified version of cry it out during naps. But to no avail…
So, I was very curious to hear what Dream Team Baby would be able to do.
Before the start of the program, change seemed hopeless—when we would put our daughter down to nap she would scream at a level that terrified me. So, it was either nap in mommy’s arms or not at all. Our nighttime routine was feed until she passed out and gently place her in the crib, holding our breath, praying we didn’t wake her.
When we began the program, our consultant had us keep track of my baby’s schedule for three days. Once we completed this phase, she had us make some tweaks to her nursery, when and how we were feeding her and her general schedule. Next, the consultant reconvened with my husband and I on the phone and discussed what the new schedule would be. Our consultant helped us understand baby sleep: the cycles, what is happening, and why sleep is so important.
We learned how to adjust the schedule properly so that when we sleep trained, crying was minimal. Armed with all the facts and a strong foundation to succeed, we got our daughter on the right schedule with very minimal crying and I am beyond thrilled to say that thanks to Dream Team Baby, my daughter goes down to sleep at 7:30 and sleeps over 12 hours straight. She also takes two naps during the day IN HER CRIB and goes in there without a peep most of the time.
I wish I could tell you their secret in this article. I wish I had a big reveal. But it’s a whole bunch of small adjustments you have to make based on your own child to make this work. There are two main things I learned along the way though.
First, having a positive attitude is extremely important.
Dream Team helps parents look at sleep and the process in a positive light. You aren’t letting a baby cry-it-out. You are supporting them while they teach themselves to sleep. This is an important skill not only for parents’ sanity but more importantly for your baby’s health. Rest is important and helping little ones achieve optimal sleep is important for healthy development.
Now, I’m not one of those new-age mamas so when my consultant kept telling me that my attitude was important and that my daughter could sense my nervous energy, I rolled my eyes. Again, I’m a New Yorker. But when things weren’t going smoothly early on, I figured what the hell! I’ll follow the program’s exact advice—All In! And that was the secret ingredient. It actually worked. I believed in my daughter and told myself she could learn to put herself to sleep on her own, when she did cry, instead of falling to pieces, I supported her. And she actually did it!
I also learned that sleep-training is really hard for parents and until you have sleep-trained a baby you don’t know how much support you need. So why are most of us going through this alone? Why isn’t everyone speaking up and saying that they need help. How many of your friends say that their babies sleep through the night? I don’t know about you but I thought everyone else had achieved sleep except for us only to find later that most of them were actually waking up once or twice.
Many moms (self included) feel the need to do everything on our own in order to feel like we are being good parents. Not only is that untrue but it’s also counterproductive. Once I spoke up and admitted my dirty secret—I’m getting help!— it turns out that many of my friends were too!
Mommies, let’s all help each other and be real. We all need a hand. And there is no shame in that. After suffering in silence for too long, I would tell every mom who can afford to use a sleep consultant early on, to do so if you want. Or at least be honest with yourself and your friends about what’s going on. Having an honest conversation helps everyone.
Many of us moms functioning on zero sleep like to martyr ourselves. Look at me, I have been doing it on my own and my baby doesn’t sleep a wink. Dream Team Baby pointed out that baby sleep shouldn’t be about the parents. Whether or not I’m getting through the day when my daughter was up all night should be irrelevant. Sleep should be about the baby. Even if you’re ok getting by without sleep—your little one isn’t. That insight changed everything about the way I looked at sleep.
My daughter has been sleeping 12 hours (at least) in the crib at night without wake ups. A few times she has woken up but she put herself back to sleep. She is one of the few babies her age to do this consistently. I am now armed with the skills to help my baby continue down a healthy sleep cycle. Sleep issues don’t resolve themselves. Unhealthy sleep habits aren’t going to go away on their own without your intervention. So don’t give up.
You can absolutely read the Dream Team Baby book, which I bought after my experience. You can be strong and resolved to do this on your own. Don’t be overwhelmed by getting your baby to sleep. But for one-on-one support, there are also phone consultations and even full night packages available for parents who are completely exhausted, working full time and want extra support throughout the process. A sleep specialist will come and stay for 1-3 nights. They help give the nursery a makeover and customize a sleep plan to ensure your little one gets 12+ hours of sleep each night. (We didn’t do this but it sounds lovely).
When the process is complete, Dream Team Baby offers ongoing support and guidance via phone/email (approximately 2 weeks following the visit). My therapist became a friend and a true source of emotional support. I texted her questions and really gained strength from her reassurance about everything until I was strong enough to do it on my own. I wish I could hire her as my BFF to be honest. Is that a business?
Although my experience with Dream Team Baby was complimentary for purposes of review, I am positive that I will hire them for my second child (if that day ever comes). Dream Team Baby has also worked with celebrities—so you know it works!
I am not a pediatrician or trained sleep professional. This is my personal experience. Always check with your doctor before doing any sleep-training program (and Dream Team actually requires pediatrician sign off before you work with them).