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Sleep Like A Baby? Yeah, Right!

Sleep tips from Philadelphia-area sleep consultants help solve your nighttime woes!

Ten minutes feels like two hours when your kid wakes up in the middle of the night. No matter how long it takes them to get back to sleep – and whether it’s separately or, more likely, together — you’re a mombie through the day struggling to stay awake until night comes and you start the cycle again.

Or maybe your bedtime routine is two-hours of tantrums and a series of requests of “just one more thing”? You might (also) have an early waker who rises way before the sun does.

If this is you, check out these consultants who can help you get through your nightmare into dreamland.

Marcella DeRosa – Born With Love 

A South Philly native, Marcella is a mom of four who has been a birth and postpartum doula for 10 years. She was encouraged to become a sleep specialist by clients of hers who were struggling with sleep.

About two years ago, she took a course through Isla Grace, a certifying organization providing a holistic view of connecting with children for better sleep by learning biological norms by age and stage. It fit with her attachment parenting approach.

“We focus on their child’s age and development and how to optimize a sleep schedule based on that plus the family’s routine. Most times, I’m just showing families where there’s an imbalance and providing suggestions on how to manage/adjust it.”

“I will never ask you to go against your instinct. You are the expert – whatever I say is a suggestion – because If you’re not comfortable, it’s not going to work.”

Erica Desper – Confident Parenting

Post-partum depression, breastfeeding struggles, and lack of sleep caused Erica to stray from her attachment parenting style. 

“After a year of extreme exhaustion, when I couldn’t physically hold my son anymore, I put him down and he was fine. I realized the way he needed me to go about it was not how I wanted to go about it. I wish someone could have told me that.”

Then she had a lightbulb moment – she could be that person for other people. 

Confident Parenting was born ten years ago, focusing on providing sleep solutions for parents with children ages zero to five by providing options. 

“We’ll say, “Here are all the ways you could do this, and you choose the best path forward for you as the expert on your baby.””

Erica is not only a certified sleep trainer, but a certified lactation consultant, postpartum doula, potty trainer, babywearing consultant, and more. Last year, she hired two consultants, and they offer multiple services, such as potty training and speech support. 

We find that behavioral strategies aren’t effective if there are other issues that need to be addressed. For example, if a child has a sensory issue they may struggle to eat well throughout the day and feel hungry overnight. So we offer a multidisciplinary effort, tackling the necessary components.” 

“It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We want to help families find the in between.”

Melissa Doman – Melissa Doman Sleep Consulting

Melissa Doman’s goal is to help empower special needs families and give them all the support they need to help their children thrive in a world where there’s not a lot of hope or solutions. While working as a child brain developmental specialist with families with special needs kids she noticed that many kids were exhausted, and unable to get through therapy. 

“At first, I had no idea what to recommend when they asked me. Special needs families read books, consult traditional resources, and they say “there’s no way – this needs to be adapted for my child.” When it came to sleep coaching for that population of kids, there was nothing out there.” 

Necessity is the mother of invention, so Melissa did research and found Sleep Sense training five years ago. After certification, she began making recommendations to the families she worked with and within a few weeks, kids made 180 degree changes. 

Most of her families have kids between 3-5 but she has also worked with babies and teens. The engagements usually last a month to make significant changes in the right direction and to achieve their goals. 

In addition to one-on-one training, she holds group coaching sessions and webinars, which may be the the only chance she has with a family to get things on track. 

“I try to make it so that when a family is finished with me, they don’t have to reach out to me again. I want to set them up for success and empower them to have a troubleshooting guide for the future.”

Cassandra Moseman – Cassandra’s Sleep Consulting

Cassandra is a mother of three who has been in business for four years. “When my last baby was one, I knew I didn’t want to stop being at home but I felt like I wanted to do SOMETHING.”

Sleep had always been a top priority for her – she read sleep books and offered advice to friends and then said, “Wait a minute – is there a sleep something?”

Cassandra got Sleep Sense certified and then started her business, working with parents in the prenatal stage up through kids 12 years old.

“I always tell people I talk to “if you’re reaching out to me, you’ve reached rock bottom. Like there’s no perfect time to have a baby, there’s no perfect time to undertake sleep training — when you’re ready is the perfect time.”

While many people think sleep training is synonymous with “crying it out” Cassandra says her methods are more gentle. “Sleep training means I’m helping parents with a customized sleep plan to develop an age-appropriate schedule and you’re helping them learn to sleep independently.”

“Sleep training can’t begin until the parents are ready. Everyone has to be on board because it’s about being consistent and doing the same thing every day and every night. If you do that, it will work.” 

Katie RoederHappily Ever After Sleep 

Katie was a store manager for Target since college, but becoming a mom of two girls made her seek something different.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do, but since COVID, my daughters weren’t sleeping well, and since I was home, I did my homework. I found the Sleep Sense program, and in three nights, sleep was a dream.” 

It worked so well she thought: How crazy would it be if I did this for a living?

Katie works with newborn through school-aged kids. While some think you can’t work with newborns, she believes in working with parents to be proactive, planning for things down the road.

The issues she sees are the usual ones, but she said it’s usually more than one thing and these issues are typically tied together.

Katie works with families for at least two weeks, but holds a call to ensure the fit, and that the whole family is on board.

If you can’t handle any crying, or are super sensitive then it’s not a good fit.”

“When we wrap up, I offer voice and text message support in real time (within a half hour). So I can celebrate with them. Or commiserate with them.”

Jennifer Schindele – Gift of Sleep Consulting

Jennifer is the sleep expert other sleep experts turned to when they wanted to pursue consulting as a career. What led her there was extreme sleep deprivation leading to post-partum depression and anxiety. 

“I was one step away from going crazy. I would have spent any amount of money for someone to come in and tell me what to do”.

She found the Sleep Sense program, fixed their sleep, became certified, and in those nine years, worked with over 1,000 kids since becoming Sleep Sense certified. 

Her mission: to help parents give the gift of sleep to both their children and in turn, themselves. She gives that gift typically to families with kids 4 months-7 years, but has worked with all ages ranges.

“I’m not fixing sleep issues, I’m teaching parents to put boundaries in place, which kids need to be happy, successful, and thrive. When they don’t have them, it can spur anxiety.”

Jennifer has a strict policy to only take three new families a week so she is often booked in advance. She also believes strongly that the “fit” needs to be there. 

“I have seen the dark side, so I feel I can truly understand, connect with and support those parents who are struggling. Sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity we need to thrive.”

Courtney Zentz – Tiny Transitions

Eight weeks after she had a baby, and eight weeks after not sleeping, Courtney had a breakdown. So she sought help for her family AND fell in love with the idea of becoming a sleep trainer so she could help more parents.  

Her goal: Build a better world of rested people. Her describes her training approachas, “A Holistic style with science-backed sleep coaching.” 

While the issues she helps overcome are similar to others, she emphasizes setting boundaries not just at bedtime, but throughout the day. “I don’t sleep train, I do behavior modification to truly get transformation that lasts.”

Courtney, who has been in business seven years, is also a lactation counselor and postpartum doula. Since launch, she has grown her business to ten consultants across the country, some with specialties like twins or Spanish-languages training. They still offer in-home training, as well as virtual.

In the Spring, she will launch the “sleep coach on call” sleep training mobile app, offering parents the opportunity to be coached through a series of videos. 

“I’m excited to bring sleep coaching to everyone without cost being a barrier.” 

Photo by William Fortunato from Pexels

Philly born-and-raised (go Lancers!), Stef is a toddler and dog mom, nonprofit communications professional, and co-owner of 2StreetSammies food truck. As a freelance writer, she covers what she knows -- the trials and tribulations of parenting, as well as offers resources to help moms feel supported and hopefully, a little more sane! She also mentors young women, and volunteers for mission-driven causes to help make the city where she grew up a kinder and better place. Follow me on twitter @stefarck for parenting humor. You can also reach out with story ideas, comments, or just to say hi @ stef@familyfocus.org.