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Mylee is a certified child sleep consultant and child behavior consultant who has helped families worldwide. Originally a social worker from Australia, she has since relocated to New York, where she now does speaking engagements, group seminars, virtual consultations, and in-home consultations. She was named one of the Top Sleep Consultants in the U.S. by Tuck Sleep.
My pediatrician recommended having my baby sleep at an incline to improve her acid reflux. I now know this is dangerous. Why would a pediatrician recommend something unsafe?
Pediatricians frequently recommend that parents use a crib wedge for their baby’s acid reflux. The fact is that pediatricians are not gastroenterologists.
Most parents aren’t aware that pediatricians only get about 5 hours of sleep education in their entire medical training.
Marc Weissbluth, The author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, is a pediatrician, and he actually says in his book that pediatricians don’t learn enough about sleep.
Sometimes pediatricians recommend things that have worked for their own children, but if they’re not staying updated on AAP safety recommendations, they can accidentally give incorrect recommendations.
When my son struggled with naps at 18 months old, my pediatrician said he should probably drop his nap. I wasn’t yet a sleep consultant, but I already knew she was incorrect. My son wasn’t ready to stop napping.
My son dropped his nap at 4.5.
I hear of kids dropping naps too early all of the time. Every time my daughter goes through a nap strike, someone says “Oh, I guess she’s done napping! My kid was done napping by then.”
No, she’s just going through a developmental milestone, and if I wait it out, she’ll start napping again. Her last nap strike lasted a month, but I waited her out because I knew she still needed naps.
Exactly. Parents often assume too early that their kid is done napping, and they drop their kid’s nap, resulting in an overtired, cranky child.
Sadly, both experts and society as a whole just don’t know enough about sleep.
In America, we have sleep consultants, but in Australia, we have early parenting centres. A mom who’s struggling to settle or feed her baby can go in for help and support. It’s a free healthcare service provided by the government.
I wasn’t a sleep consultant before my first son, so I wasn’t as prepared to deal with sleep as I could have been, but at least in Australia, I had somewhere to go for help. I was more supported than I would have been here in the U.S.
We need more programs and services for moms so that everyone can have access to help.
Can you talk about the AAP recommendation to always put babies to sleep on their backs?
Babies should always be put to sleep on their backs.
If you’re following the 5 S’s for soothing, I’d recommend having the baby on his side in your arms, and then transferring him to the crib on his back. If you put him down on his side, it’s too easy for him to roll onto his stomach. You can’t leave a baby on his side in the crib.
Do you have any other tips for us before we end the interview?
I recommend really working on getting your child to sleep more independently around 8 weeks old. That doesn’t mean you don’t sometimes rescue them when they’re struggling. But at eight weeks old, you should be focusing on putting them down drowsy and giving them opportunities to self-soothe.
I’m not saying you should be sleep-training at 8 weeks; I definitely don’t recommend that! But at 8 weeks, babies are starting to make connections, so it’s the perfect time to get them used to a routine. Show them that they have a bath, put on their pajamas, and then go to bed; get them used to a routine so they can start building the necessary sleep skills.
If I have a baby and I’m struggling, what should I do? How should I contact you? What services can you provide?
I’m a sleep consultant and a behavior consultant, so I can help with many different things. But in regards to sleep, I offer a few different services, including a Sleep Strategy Session.
The Sleep Strategy Session is for expecting parents or parents of a newborn who want to promote healthy sleep. These babies aren’t old enough for sleep training, but we talk about wake windows, what healthy sleep looks like, and how to prepare for success. Ideally, this information will help you succeed early on and lessen the chance of needing sleep training. But even with all of the right tools in the beginning, sometimes you still need additional help.
If a parent reaches the point where they need more help, I can come in and work with them to create an individual sleep plan that they’re comfortable with.
Not every client wants to do sleep training, but if a client chooses that, I usually wait until the baby is at least 5 months old. Babies go through a major sleep shift around 4 months old. I feel that doing any sort of training before that isn’t setting anyone up for success. Once babies are closer to 5 months old and their sleep is more consistent, success is much more likely.
So generally I’m working with kids 5 months to 6 years old.
I do in-home consultations in Manhattan, but I can work with clients anywhere by phone, video chat, or email. It usually takes about two weeks to implement new sleep habits and routines, depending on the child and the approach the parents use, and I stay in contact during that time to answer questions and offer support.
Mylee also offers a free 15-minute call to get acquainted and let you know more about the different packages options.
Do you recommend any specific styles of sleep training to your clients?
When I speak to a client, I usually go through the various sleep methods that I believe will work for their child. Every child is different, so I do a sleep assessment to determine the methods I think will yield the best results. But if I suggest something a parent isn’t comfortable with, we can easily find something else, as there are so many different ways to encourage healthy sleep.
I would never force a parent to pick a particular method of sleep training, and many parents aren’t comfortable using the cry-it-out method.
Many people are hesitant to seek help from a consultant because they worry that a sleep consultant could use methods they disagree with. As a mom, I understand how hard it can be to hear your babies cry, and I would never ask you to do something that makes you uncomfortable.
I want to work with you to create a happier, healthier home where everyone is getting the sleep they need.
Thank you so much, Mylee, for this incredible interview! Be sure to check her out on Instagram and Facebook, and if you need assistance with child sleep or behavioral issues, visit Little Big Dreamers.