Expert helps kids get to sleep so desperate parents can sleep too

- Like most toddlers, 18 month old Dahlia would rather do anything than go to sleep. 

Reading books, playing with her big sister Saffron and snacking are all good distractions. 
 
“It’s exhausting our patience and we’re pretty patient people,” Andrew Levine, Dahlia’s dad, said. 
 
Each night, one of Dahlia's parents spends up to an hour reading and then rocking Dahlia to sleep. 
 
“Three, four, five, six times we’ll put her down in the crib and she’ll wake up crying and screaming,” Levine said. 
 
After a year and a half of restless nights, Andrew and Sheila Levine decided to make a big change. 
 
“We all wake up pretty tired, so we needed some help, we needed some professional help with sleeping,” Levine said. 
 
Enter, Jennifer Waldburger, the co-author of The Sleepeasy Solution, and an expert on children’s sleep from Sleepy Planet
 
“Usually calls to us are 911 calls,” Waldburger said. “We are absolutely desperate, we’ve hit a wall, we’ve been struggling with this for a long time and simply can’t do this anymore.”
 
Waldburger said, getting kids to go to sleep and stay asleep is a problem in many households. 
 
“It can really wreak havoc on a family’s well being because kids are tired, parents are tired and nobody is functioning well,” she said. 
 
After an initial consultation, Waldburger helps families develop a plan for a new bedtime routine. 
 
Her secrets to a successful night sleep all lie with setting up the right environment, starting with Dahlia’s crib in her parent’s bedroom. 
 
“You want it kind of boring like there’s nothing interesting in here to do other than close her eyes,” she said. 
 
The other two, must-dos are black out shades and a white noise machine. 
 
Tonight it’s dad’s turn to start the new bedtime routine. 
 
It’s also important to put children down in their bed while they're still awake. 
 
To watch the Levine’s put the new plan into action, a GoPro camera was set up over Dahlia’s crib to see just how well she goes to bed. 
 
Instantly, Dahlia puts up a fight, standing up in her crib crying for her parents. 
 
The sounds were agonizing for her father to hear. 
 
Waldburger coaches him through it. 
 
 Levine has to wait five minutes until he can go back in the room and check on Dahlia. 
 
Sleep training is just as much about teaching the parents new skills as it is the kids, Waldburger said. 
 
When Levine can finally go back in the room, it’s only to offer comforting words to Dahlia before he leaves again. 
 
Ten minutes later and Dahlia is still hysterical. 
 
“She will eventually get tired and settle down, we've just got to hang in there,” Waldburger said. 
 
Then at 14 minutes a breakthrough. 
 
“She sat down,” Waldburger says and gives a thumbs up. 
 
At 20 minutes, finally silence from the baby monitor and a celebration from the parents. 
 
“I feel silly that we put it off for this long because of the dread because it really wasn’t that bad at all,” Sheila Levine, Dahlia’s mom said. 
 
According to Waldburger, the time it takes Dahlia to fall asleep will get less and less each night. 
 
She wants to reassure parents that letting your kids cry it out for a short period of time isn’t harmful. 
 
“It’s hard to remember that sometimes the most loving thing to do for your child is to help them learn a new skill that’s important for their health and well being,” she said. 
 
The Levine’s said it only took one more night for Dahlia to learn how to go bed on her own. 
 
She’s now falling asleep without fussing or crying. 
 
A consultation with Sleepy Planet starts at $125 and can run up to $495 dollars depending on your family's needs. 
 
They also offer group classes at a lower rate. 
 
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