I met Brooke when my sleep deprived husband and I were needing a pep talk and some sleep advice. Our little one wasn’t the best sleeper and before we started creating some habits we didn’t want, we reached out to Brooke to get support.
What I like so much about Brooke and her approach is that she is very supportive in helping the family discover what approach is right for them. She is understanding, open, and very knowledgable. She is also breast feeding supportive, which for me was very important.
Here is my interview with Brooke Nalle of Sleepy on Hudson. To learn more about Brooke and her work, go to her website: http://www.sleepyonhudson.com
Is there any approach you use in your work that new parents might find it helpful to know?
It is really important that new parents understand that they can make very positive constructive changes if they choose a path, method, and plan that allows them to implement changes with consistency and confidence. I look at every sleeper through three big lenses – first, developmental, second, temperament and personality, and finally, family culture and parenting style. If you respect these three pieces then you can get it right and improve sleep for the whole family. I find that following a program or plan from a book is not enough. You need to take the ideas and apply them to you as a parent as well as to your child. Moreover what worked for your friend or your older child might not be the right thing for your new baby. Finally I ask that all of my families respect and try to understand variance. Not all sleepers can get 12 hour nights and 3 hours of naps. Not all sleepers can sleep until 8am.
What drew you to this work of becoming a sleep consultant?
I have either been a student or a teacher my entire life, and when I was struggling with my children’s sleep, I desperately needed someone to teach and guide me so that I could learn how to do the right thing and apply it to future sleep situations in the coming years. I eventually took a good friend’s advice and decided to apply my own background in education to teach my children how to sleep just as I would teach a child to read or write essays. Like many of us, I started giving advice and helping people for free, realized I loved doing it, and then I sought professional training. It has been a very rewarding 7 years.
How does your personal experience influence your work?
I tell every family I work with that I am a mother first and a sleep consultant second. I know what it is like to be tired, to be judged, to feel defeated. I understand crying and helplessness. I start there and together, with my clients, look for the light at the end of the tunnel.
What do you see most new parents struggling with when it comes to their babies and sleep?
Peer, partner, professional, and social media pressure. As tired parents, we get advice and judgement everywhere we look. We are told by our doctors what our babies should be doing and then feel like failures when they are not. Moreover many of us don’t have the support networks that we need. We don’t have mothers and sisters near by. If we work, we are conflicted and feel isolated. If we stay home, we still feel conflicted and isolated. Our partners miss us, and we often feel frustrated and angry at them (or at least I did).
What do you find most helpful for new parents to know?
You have time. You don’t have to sleep train by a certain age. Certainly there are ‘good’ ages, but even then it’s tough. You also should just enjoy being with your baby the first 4 months (well really always enjoy your baby). Don’t worry about creating crutches and bad habits. Just make sure they are safe, sleeping when they need to, and eating enough during the day. You can undo any behaviors with the right plan and a little work.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
It is always changing and always surprising me. Every family is different and every sleeper is truly an individual. I love picturing what they will be like in just a few years and even in 20 years. I have been lucky enough to stay in touch with clients over the years, and I love seeing my former clients marching off to kindergarden or welcoming a new brother or sister. I may work hard and very often too much, but I am never bored. For that, I am very grateful.
How does someone know when they are ready to hire a sleep consultant?
When you know that you want to make a change and feel overwhelmed and stressed by the process of finding direction. I also feel like if you have tried a few methods and had little or no success then it is a good time to have someone look at your situation and timeline objectively. It also can be very helpful if both parents are not seeing eye to eye and need a 3rd party to give a plan that feels positive and less fraught. Finally, I think it is a good idea if you have multi-layered goals such as better nights, naps, and room sharing.
Brooke and I will be holding our workshop, Rebirth After Birth; Navigating Your Way Into Motherhood at Rivertown Mamas in March. To sign up or for more information, click here https://embracingjoy.com/rebirth-birth-sign-workshop-starting-soon/