Latest Mama Stuff The Mothership

What is sleep training?

Bloodshot eyes? Crazy hair? Leaving your phone in the fridge because you really need some sleep? Maybe you need to hire a sleep coach for your baby! We chatted to esteemed sleep trainer Heike Millar to understand sleep training better.

∇  How did you get into the business of sleep training?

I ran a baby clinic in Gauteng for many years and when we moved to the Western Cape in January 2015 I wanted to do something different. Because I saw how many babies didn’t sleep well at the clinic I felt this was a good place to start.

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“I’m not saying there will be no protest, I’m saying the parent can support their child throughout the learning process so that the child never feels abandoned.”

∇  What exactly is sleep training?

I actually don’t like the turn sleep training as it has such negative connotations and moms have visions of leaving their babies to “cry-it-out” for hours. I prefer “sleep coaching”. We teach babies and children healthy sleep hygiene with as little stress on the child and family as possible.

∇  When do you know you need to call a sleep coach?

We do pregnancy consultations so that you start off on the right foot and know what to expect, newborn consultations so that you lay the ground work for healthy sleep in the future and then from 3-4 months when the circadian rhythm and sleep cycles are established we do sleep coaching consultations.

∇  Are there different approaches?

There are different approaches but it is more about the individual child and the families parenting philosophies. There are so many thing that influence sleep and these factors influence each child differently- there are very few babies that fit into the “google how to make my child sleep” category. We need to tailor make a holistic, individualised plan for each client that the parents are able to carry out or it’s the “wrong” plan.

sleep training
Heike with her family.

∇  You are a mother of two teenage daughters – what method worked best for you?

Quite honestly  didn’t have any sleep issues with my children. My oldest slept through the night from 20h00 until 06h00 at 8 weeks and Carmen slept through at 4 months. She did, however start coming to our bed when she was 12 months old and we moved her into a big bed (don’t move your child out of the cot until they physically climb out!!!!) and eventually she had most of the bed. When she was 18 months I bribed her with smarties for breakfast if she stayed in her own bed the whole night. Worked like a charm!

∇  Do you have three tips for desperate parents?

You need to be ready to do this. Have realistic expectations. It takes around two weeks of doing something consistently to change a habit.

Perseverance and consistency is key!

∇  Children sleep best in complete darkness

∇  Sleep begets sleep. Children that nap well well sleep better at night and making bedtime earlier will improve night time sleep and early morning wake ups.

∇  A consistent, short bedtime routine, at the same time every evening cues the brain that sleep is imminent.


Interested in knowing more about sleep coaching? You can contact GoodnightBaby HERE to get a consultation.

Read all about Heike Millar here

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