You can always spot them: new parents. They’ve got that glow in their eyes that only stealing a glimpse at their bundle of joy can bring. Many wear an ear-to-ear grin each time they talk about their little ones, which is a lot. They might also be dragging, staring off with their eyes glazed-over, or even falling asleep at their desks or dinner tables, because let’s face it: babies and sleep don’t mix. Or so you thought! With the help of a professional sleep trainer, new parents can finally get the sleep they — and their babies — so desperately need.
Originally from South Africa, Jayde Elmaleh is a mother of two, qualified sleep trainer and mommy consultant with Make My Baby Smile. Early on with her first daughter, Elmaleh learned the importance of establishing a good routine, which she worked on with Rochel Ferman, founder and partner at Make My Baby Smile.
“I spent so much time reading everything that was out there [on how to establish a routine] and I would try [everything], but what ultimately helped me was to have the guidance of one person, one voice, and an answer to help me specifically with my child, not an overview of ‘most children,'” she says of her introduction to sleep training.
The Make My Baby Smile approach worked so well for Elmaleh’s first daughter that she began advising friends with young children and eventually joined Ferman as part of the Make My Baby Smile family, where she now helps families from all over the world get the rest they need through sleep training and mommy coaching.
L’CHAIM Magazine: What is sleep training, exactly?
Jayde Elmaleh: There are many definitions, and I think in general when people hear the term “sleep training,” they instantly think of crying babies, which turns a lot of people off, but this is a huge misconception. Babies will cry to communicate, whether too hot, overtired, uncomfortable or for a dirty diaper, so crying is not a bad thing, it’s your babies way of telling you something. Sleep is a skill, and we need to teach this skill to our babies, just like riding a bike, once they learn, this is a skill they will have forever. In my opinion, when we don’t teach babies how to sleep, we run into bigger sleep issues as they get older for example a toddler who constantly wakes at night and comes into their parents room.So yes, there may be one or two days of crying with sleep training, but it’s controlled crying, and for an ultimate important goal- knowing how to self soothe and sleep entirely on their own. (no rocking or feeding to sleep.)
L’CHAIM: Are there different methods or approaches that you use to sleep train?
J.E.: Yes, The methods range depending on the age of the child and some other factors like the overall type of family and their particular situation. I train babies as young as 4 months old and all the way up until 3 or even 5 years old.
L’CHAIM: What are the benefits of sleep training?
J.E.: The biggest benefit is the ability to understand your baby. I feel that parents, especially first-time parents, get overwhelmed with advice and information from friends and books about how to get their children to sleep. Sleep is the nucleus of everything. If your baby sleeps well, they eat well, then they are happier and can enjoy things like music/swimming and other classes more. When they sleep well, you also sleep well, and then you are happy, now your partner is happy because you are and there is peace in the home. With a baby who is sleep-trained, you can literally lay them in their crib wide awake and they are able to put themselves to sleep entirely on their own AND they stay asleep for 11-12 hours at night, uninterrupted. This is a wonderful gift of time you can give yourself to accomplish other tasks, like work or washing the dishes, folding clothes, having a peaceful mealtime with your other half or taking a much needed nap!
The other benefit is removing the guesswork for when your baby is crying. A sleep trained baby will only cry when something is truly wrong eg. Getting sick or teething vs. just crying because they don’t yet know how to sleep.
L’CHAIM: What does ideal sleep look like for babies, in general?
J.E.: Firstly, “early to bed later to rise” is absolutely true for babies. The ideal sleep time for a baby eg. 6 months old, is 11-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night and 2-3 solid naps in the daytime (3 hours of sleep in the day). For this to work, an acceptable awake time is 6-7 a.m. with a bedtime between 6 and 7 p.m.
These are not numbers that I make up; it’s what works for babies, but we need to teach our children how to fall asleep on their own and stay asleep through the night. Ideal sleep is a baby that knows how to put themselves to sleep and stay asleep.
L’CHAIM: What do you do when you work with families?
J.E.: Prior to training, I first assess the baby’s medical history and make sure all other concerns are under control. In addition to sleeping, I cover feeding, appropriate stimulation and winding down times. I make sure to have the family understand the reasons for each method used in my training, and go over each client’s specific concerns to customize a plan unique for their child.
What may be surprising is that in my line of work much of what I do incorporates counseling and emotional support. For example, parents may have tendencies to feel guilt when leaving their baby to return to work or even simply seeing their baby cry.
I make a great effort to assist in reducing stress in the household as a whole. It’s a cycle, once the baby starts sleeping well, the parents sleep improves, and they begin to feel much more at ease. Consequentially they now have the time to reach their personal goals, or simply leaving the house knowing what the baby’s routine is like, having date nights and hiring a nanny etc. I am a mom myself and I am empathetic to these feelings. I hold my client’s hands from the beginning to the end of the process, and as you can see we cover a lot more than just sleep.
L’CHAIM: Why should parents seek out your services?
J.E: They should seek out my services because they are looking to take out the WHY element to their baby crying. They want everyone to get the sleep they all need and deserve. They are looking for a greater balance & an easy-to-follow routine in their lives with a baby. Mostly, they want to give their child the gift of sleep!
Check it out!