For some sleep-deprived parents, having kids who can’t sleep at night can turn their lives upside down. Take Danielle and Marcello, parents to 2-year-old Mia and 9-month-old Emmy, who didn’t sleep a full night from the moment Mia was born.
“We just don’t sleep. We are up anywhere from three to six times a night with one of the kids,” Danielle told Nightline. “Between midnight and 2 a.m., she [Mia] screaming so loud that I am afraid she is going to wake Emmy up and I am afraid she is going to hurt herself so at that point the only thing that consoled her was giving her a bottle and bringing her into bed with us.”
It’s not like Mia was the entire issue — baby Emmy wasn’t sleeping either. “Emily I rock to sleep. When she wakes up I pick her up, I haven’t even tried to sleep train Emily,” confessed Danielle.
But after two years of not sleeping, the couple decided to throw some money at the problem and hire sleep consultants called Dream Team Baby. The “Dream Team” consists of Conner Herman and her colleague Kira Ryan, who go into families’ homes and help parents “take back the night.”
The team, which charges almost $2,000 for an overnight stay and follow-up support, has a three-step process for getting little ones to sleep:
Step 1: Black out windows so the room is completely dark.
Step 2: Turn on a white noise machine to drown out sound in other rooms.
Step 3: Put the baby to bed and leave for the night.
Sounds easy enough, but any parent will tell you, closing the door and not looking back on a hysterically crying child is not easy. So while the Dream Team may not be the first ones to practice the “cry it out” theory, some parents need them to simply show them how it’s done and be their willpower.
“A parent can absolutely do this by themselves. Unfortunately a lot of parents are over extended already and for this family they have been through a lot and having the confidence that their child can put herself to sleep, that there is nothing wrong, they are not going to have to help her in any way, is sometimes hard,” said Herman.
However crying it out is not okay with everyone and Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, is not a believer. “I would think of crying out in a kind of a similar way to spanking. Spanking can work, a lot of people will tell you that it’s the best thing, that’s what worked for their kids. But it fundamentally doesn’t feel right and it teaches them the wrong message,” said Dr. Karp.
While we’re not sure that we agree that physically hitting a child and ignoring attention-getting cries are even close to being in the same vein, we do understand that every parent is different and what works for some, may not for others. That being said, the Dream Team certainly did prove a pretty good point: Two weeks after spending the night with Mia, she was sleeping 12 hours a night, and 6 months later, she and Emmy were both sleeping through the night.
“We actually have lives. I can make plans after 7:30 at this point. The girls are healthier, happier. I can’t imagine a time when we didn’t have it like this,” said a very grateful, and well-rested Danielle.