Parents paying hundreds to get babies to sleep through the night

Services for sleep deprived parents can range from under £100 to over £600

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Wednesday 21 September 2016 13:09

Crying it out, co-sleeping, rocking and nursing back to sleep – there are myriad methods employed by parents trying to get their baby to sleep through the night. Now exhausted parents have started turning to the growing industry of infant sleep consultants to teach them the best way to get a good nights’ sleep, despite it costing hundreds of pounds.

The cost of employing a sleep consultant starts at under £100, and can range to more than £600 for the most dedicated services, with parents commonly paying between £250 and £380 for help with their child’s sleep. The services on offer include one-on-one consultations, support for parents for one of two weeks over email and Skype, overnight support and even 24-hour hands on support.

The rise in these services is down to the lifestyles of modern families where both parents work and can’t afford to be sleep deprived, says Lucy Shrimpton, 35, who runs The Sleep Nanny, as well as parents not necessarily having the same network of family members living close by to help with child care that previous generations may have had access to.

In addition, the issue of babies not sleeping properly “doesn’t get covered at any stage of pregnancy, pre-birth or after-birth,” she claims, adding that health visitors are invaluable for new mothers but have a limited knowledge on infant sleep issues, which also impacts families.

Annie Simpson, 40, who co-runs Infant Sleep Consultants, has worked with children and babies for 24 years and said the parents who contact the consultancy are re-entering the workplace and have reached the end of their ability to cope with their lack of sleep.

“Our typical client is a highly-educated, going back-to-work mum, who can’t afford to be tired and who needs to sort it out,” she said. “Tiredness affects their mood, their marriages, we hear the same thing over and over again; ‘I’ve had enough, I can’t cope, please help’.”

Ms Shrimpton said she began training as a paediatric sleep practitioner and child sleep consultant after having sought help with her own children’s sleep problems.

Both she and Ms Simpson warned about the dangers of a lack of regulation in the industry and inexperienced practitioners.

Ms Shrimpton said it is possible for anyone to set themselves up as an infant sleep consultant, and advised parents to do proper research before paying for a service: “Parents should be aware of the fact that the industry isn’t regulated, so they need to do their homework and make sure [the sleep consultant] is qualified and experienced.”

Ms Simpson said: “We’ve had clients who have come to us after seeing other people when it hasn’t worked out – it makes it a huge expense.”

The NHS advises parents experiencing sleep deprivation or problems with children crying and not sleeping to try to sleep when their baby sleeps, to ask friends and relatives for support, to be aware of the symptoms of post natal depression or visit their GP, among other suggestions.

There are also helpline services parents can call for support with demanding babies and excessive crying, such as the charities Cry-sis or Family Lives.

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