1) What inspired you to start The Happy Sleep Company?
I am the Mom of an amazing little girl, who wasn't always the amazing little sleeper she is now. When my daughter was four months old, she did not sleep. (Ok, yes, that’s an exaggeration. Sleep is like air. You’ve gotta have it. So, yes, she was sleeping some.) But, my baby was getting so little rest at this point that it felt like she never slept. And this left me in a rocking chair, at two o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, sobbing through the phone overtop the baby in my lap, asking a Telehealth nurse questions about how much sleep my baby really needed, hoping for an answer different than the one I was getting from Google.
In short, I have been there. I can relate to every single tired parent I work with. And, at around six months of age, when we finally got a plan in place that both felt right to me and my husband and started getting my infant the sleep she needed, I felt like I was enjoying both my baby and the overall experience of motherhood in an entirely new way, with a new lens.
I have seen, first-hand, the difference that healthy sleep can make to a child and to the entire family unit. When naptimes become easy, bedtimes become joyful, and nights become full of restful sleep, this makes an incredibly positive difference in the overall health, happiness, and well-being of families. This is where the desire to train as a sleep consultant came from, and how my career got started.
2) How long has it Happy sleep been around?
I trained as a Sleep Consultant and began working with families in 2015, but started my own company – The Happy Sleep Company – in February 2017.
3) What services do you offer?
I am committed to working closely with families through a one-on-one, comprehensive and customized sleep program to ensure their little one is getting the healthy rest they need for proper development. My sleep programs involve:
- An initial questionnaire and sleep tracking log, to assess the child’s sleep and the individual family situation
- A private, 1.5 hour consultation (either In-Home or Virtual via Skype or Facetime) during which I do a sleep-space assessment, and discuss with the family: awake times, daytime feeding and sleeping schedules, and review their full sleep program together
- A customized sleep plan provided to the family following the initial consultation
- Daily email support for 14 days, including daily review of sleep tracking logs and answers to all questions each day
- Three 20-minute phone calls during the 14-day program
- The Happy Sleep Company’s Tips & Resource Guide, helpful to have on hand for the future!
3) What advice would you offer to parents whose child is not sleeping?
There is so much at play when it comes to babies’ sleep, from the right sleep environment to age-appropriate nap schedules and awake times, to helping your little one gain the independent sleep skills needed to go back to sleep when they wake up and are still tired! But, the top tips I always give families in order to get started on the road to great sleep are:
Create a peaceful sleep environment:
Children sleep more easily when not surrounded by flashing lights and other stimulating items, so avoid mobiles and toy aquariums in or attached to your child’s crib, and keep out bright sunlight (or artificial light such as street lamps) with blackout blinds and blackout curtains.
Make it quiet:
If you live on a busy street, have a loud pet, or perhaps an older child making a lot of noise when your baby is trying to nap, white noise can be very helpful. When using a sound machine or app on your phone, ensure you use only a “white noise” setting (no ocean waves or jungle sounds, which can be very stimulating), and run it continuously (not on a timer) to keep your baby from waking at loud noises.
Don’t fear the early bedtime:
Of course, your child’s bedtime should depend on age. But putting your baby or young child to bed past 8pm is likely to result in an overtired little person who has much more difficulty falling asleep, and staying asleep all throughout the night. Your child’s body is no longer “ready” for sleep at that point, and she will likely appear “wired” and very overstimulated or agitated. Children who go to bed before they become overtired generally have fewer night wakes and sleep later in the morning than those who go to bed late.
Routines are key:
A consistent bedtime routine with the same steps carried out every night before bed will help your child to understand that the big long sleep is coming up! Babies and toddlers thrive on consistency and predictability – they like to know what’s coming up next! A great bedtime routine could include:
- Bath (all-natural products are my recommendation!)
- PJs (and sleep bag, if your little one is still in a crib)
- Song and cuddle
Avoid “sleep props”:
A sleep prop is any external stimuli (e.g. rocking, feeding, pacifier, etc.) that your little one relies on in order to get to sleep that he will inevitably then rely on again to get back to sleep any time he is in a light stage of rest and wakes slightly. I.e., instead of using the same healthy, independent sleep skills he used to get to sleep, he will need the same sleep “prop” or “crutch” to get him back to sleep. If your little one is not reliant on these types of “props” and can go into the crib awake and fall asleep using his own sleep skills, he is much more likely to link his sleep cycles together and have bigger, longer stretches of restful sleep, rather than waking fully at every light stage of sleep.
Put your little one down awake:
Not drowsy. Not asleep. Awake. In order for infants and toddlers to learn to put themselves back to sleep when they rustle and wake at night (just like we do!), they first need to know how to go from awake to asleep with their own healthy sleep habits at bedtime. Putting your child down already very drowsy or asleep will cause him to wake during the night unaware of his surroundings or how to get himself back to sleep. Putting him down awake and allowing him the chance to fall asleep on his own will help him begin to go back to sleep on his own when he wakes and, ultimately, to sleep through the night.
4) Where can parents find you and expect when they make the initial call?
Parents can reach me via www.thehappysleepcompany.ca, and schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation to chat more about their little one’s sleep and gain advice and support!
Erin Junker is a Professional Infant & Toddler Sleep Consultant, and owner of The Happy Sleep Company. She works closely with tired parents to help them help their little ones get the healthy, restful sleep they need. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook@thehappysleepcompany- let’s get your family the healthy, happy sleep you deserve!