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The pitfalls of finding baby sleep help on Instagram & social media

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
The pitfalls of finding baby sleep help on Instagram & social media
Instagram, Facebook and other social media sites have changed the landscape of how mums are parenting and accessing help. In just the space of a few years, help and support has moved, in a big way, into the online world.

Social media

Social media makes parenting look glossy and a bit Hollywood and so expectations are raised. We see local celebrities like Bec Judd who recently had babies no 3 and 4, twin boys and mums like the Kardashian clan quickly revert back to pre pregnancy figures, fitting back into skinny jeans and without a whiff of muffin top, vomit stain on outfit or pale face aka death warmed up look after 3-4 hours of broken sleep. The promise of life being just like theirs is so very attractive and so mums listen to these online promises of what I often think is the emperors new clothes. i.e. entirely unattainable.

I too love Instagram and its' glossiness but I also see the real world of parenting every single time I'm invited into a home to help. So I get the reality check. Most mums don't. They think if I follow these Instagram and social media 'celebs' and do what they are doing my life will be just the same. Except it won't and it can't ever be.

Case study

Which brings me to this particular case study of a mum who accessed sleep help via a very popular Instagram account of a mum with twin boys who has become a sleep coach. The reason I'm singling this particular case out is because of the effect this had on this mum and I don't think for a minute that she is on her own. There are bound to be others out there who have been seduced by the promise and slick marketing that makes you believe that if you follow the videos and instructions in the glossy package that you will achieve utopia i.e. amazing baby sleep.

This sleep coach has no formal qualifications in baby sleep. She has produced these sleep packages because she managed to get her twin boys to sleep. Now is that enough experience to help an exhausted sleep deprived mum escape sleep deprivation hell with her baby?

I have watched her videos and had a good look at her sleep methods and I have serious misgivings. None of what she taught this mum had any basis in evidence based practice. There was the usual patting to sleep which if you've followed my blog for while will know that I hate babies being patted to sleep. It doesn't work and creates massive sleep associations and a disastrous 4 month sleep regression.

Harper and the sleep programme

Mum had been working on Harper's sleep for 2 whole months with this programme and the 'sleep consultant' kept telling mum to work harder and be consistent. Something was plainly not working. I can turn things around in a matter of days, 7-10 days at the outside. It has never taken me 2 months to sleep train a baby. If by 2 weeks things are not progressing then it's quite obvious something is wrong. It's so important to check - Is baby well? Is there an underlying health condition? is the baby feeding properly and gaining weight? Does the baby have reflux or a milk or food allergy?

Mum was in quite a dark place with what was happening and Harper had learnt to hate her cot. This is so very sad and so wrong. This is why an untrained and unskilled baby whisperer can often be a disaster for a vulnerable new mum and baby. And unfortunately I'm seeing more and more of this happening. Always check what your baby whisperers qualifications and professional experience are. I'm afraid 80 hours of distance learning via podcasts does not equip anyone to be a safe and proficient baby sleep consultant.

Patting & the 4 month sleep regression

So it actually creates the very thing it's supposed to be helping. No wonder I have no faith in these methods that involve patting. Have a look at this post from an eminent Professor of Psychology, Lynne Murray on what she has to say on rocking babies to sleep and the pat falls nicely into that category of sleep association.

Since I've been to help them it's only got better and better and several months on from then, Harper hasn't missed a beat and sleeps through every single night. One very happy momma and happy bubba.

Baby sleep

Update from Harper's mama

Hi Karen, Thought I'd give you a bit of an update on Harper's progress since your visit and follow up. As we expected her sleep did get worse before it got better. However, we could see improvements every day which kept us motivated and after 2 weeks of sticking to your program it really started to click for her.
The last few days she is self settling for most day naps in a matter of minutes with minimal if any tears at all (my whole goal for doing this for her!), she also connecting most of her sleep cycles with hardly any resettling required! As I mentioned the other day it's not just her sleep that's improving, her overall demeanour has begun shifting and she seems so much happier and easy going!
Even after having her immunisation and being in the middle of a leap we managed another sleep through last night and both day sleeps today she has gone down without a sound - seriously, who is this baby!! We have also been able to use our capsule and pram for the first time since she was a newborn without her screaming!
While we are still figuring out what works best for her in regards to the timing of the bedtime even with last few days of trial and error it's been so much easier to settle her and I know we're close to nailing it. I can't thank you enough for all your help and support! I know we still have a bit of work to do but I seriously feel like we have a different baby thanks to you ????????????

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