All Fodmap Recipes/ family/ Featured/ Fit Fab Baby/ Interviews

Sleep Doesn’t Have to be a Luxury – Interview with the Baby Sleep Maven

sleep training interview with the Baby Sleep Maven

I give all the credit to my husband who found Riki through an online sleep forum where he was searching for sleep training help.  We were both incredibly sleep-deprived around the 5-month mark and teetering back and forth whether to sleep train.  My approach to getting Max to sleep was literally giving him a boob and praying he’d go back down after 20 minutes. Let me tell you, this does not work long term and at this point, we knew he wasn’t hungry.  We were emotionally and physically exhausted, both working full time and knew changes needed to be made to our routine. In order to get Max to sleep we would swaddle him tightly, sing, pacify, and rock while walking for a minimum of 20-30 minutes at a time. Once he was asleep we would carefully put him into the crib as if he was a bomb.  This was for all his naps and bedtime. It was incredibly challenging and frustrating especially when it would take 30 minutes to get him down for a 30-minute nap. {Insert the Sleep Maven here}

 Riki, I am virtually bowing down to you for giving us the tools and confidence to help all three of us get into a better place and groove.  It was getting to the point where we were dreading the weekends because it was so brutal. Before the first call, we answered questions and provided you with a full analysis of Max’s sleep schedule through your intake form.  During our call, we felt like you were already up to speed and ready to walk us through the personalized plan for our baby. We got off the phone feeling confident and ready to tackle sleep all thanks to YOU.

 Tell us a little about your sleep story and what brought you to want to help other families?

Thank you so much for the kind words, Mollie. You guys were so much fun to work with! By the time you reached out to me, you had already committed, heart-and-soul, to do what it takes to get Max the sleep he needed. You knew it would be challenging and that there would be tough nights, but you committed to a higher goal for sake of your family’s well-being, and that is what brought you the success you now enjoy. 

 To answer your question…my journey into motherhood started with tiny twin girls. Who would have believed that such small creatures could completely take over every minute of the day and night? Even with the help of a full-time nanny, we were in over our heads. Between pumping, breastfeeding and supplementing with formula bottles, by the time we finished it was time to start the cycle all over again.

 I remember thinking postpartum, “I could handle either one or the other: recovering from a twin childbirth, OR taking care of newborn twins, with my body in perfect condition. But both at once?! What kind of cruel joke is this?!” 

 And of course, to compound it all, I was severely deprived of nature’s greatest healer: sleep. 

 After a few weeks of feeling delirious and crazed, I made it my mission to learn how to get these babies to sleep, so that I could regain my sanity and enjoy motherhood. Because at that point, I can’t tell you that I was taking much joy in it! 

As we made our way out of the newborn stage, I sleep trained my twins through a method in a popular sleep training book. After that, my life was BACK, better than ever! Now we had sleep, sanity and beautiful, rested babies! 

 Friends and relatives who had their own babies were in awe that we had the girls on such a great schedule. I was more than happy to share what I had learned and started to help others coach their babies. From there, the progression was natural. I realized that I not only had a passion for baby sleep, I was good at breaking down concepts, troubleshooting, and motivating moms to stick it out! Studying for and receiving certification as a Pediatric Sleep Consultant was the next step, which I did through the Institute of Pediatric Sleep and Parenting.  

If you were going to describe your sleep training method what would it be?

Every single sleep training method is the same at its core: removing what your baby depends on to fall asleep and taking a step back to let him learn how to put himself to sleep. The differences in the methods depend on the level of involvement you, as parents, want to have.   

Some parents like to sit next to the crib and gradually remove their presence, others prefer to do timed checks, and still others choose not to check. Some parents like to remove all sleep dependencies (rocking, nursing, holding) in one shot, others prefer to use a more gradual fading method to slowly eliminate them. A lot of it comes down to what each parent is comfortable committing to.  

What is the number one question you get from parents who are nervous to sleep train?

How long will the crying last? What if my baby just cries the entire night and never falls asleep?  

What is a common mistake you see parents make when it comes to sleep?

Feeling guilty about sleep training! Parents often think that they are sleep training because they can’t take the exhaustion anymore and are being selfish about it. The truth is that the scientific research speaks for itself: babies who have been sleep trained (with reassurance) score higher on cognitive functioning tests, have happier temperaments, have lower diagnoses of ADD, ADHD and sensory processing disorders, and are at lower risk of developing childhood obesity and diabetes. 

 Interestingly, babies who have gone through a sleep learning process are often MORE securely attached than babies who haven’t. These babies know that mama loves them deeply and sets limits that are there for their safety.  Babies can sense this, even though they can’t verbalize it yet. Sleep training is anything but selfish – you are giving your baby one of life’s greatest gifts by teaching him how to sleep. 

This “drowsy but awake” suggestion can be extremely daunting.  At what age do you recommend putting a baby down drowsy but awake and can you clarify what that expression REALLY means.

This is a great question. The reason “drowsy but awake” is so daunting is because parents aren’t clear on what drowsy means. If parents were told “put your baby down awake” there would be no confusion. The reason that the “drowsy” part is important is because if you put your baby down when she’s not tired, she will end up crying more than necessary because her body isn’t ready for sleep. And although there will usually be some sort of tears involved in sleep training, we don’t want one extra tear than necessary! 

 Every baby gives off clear signals when they are tired. The key to “drowsy but awake” is knowing your baby’s tired signs. When you know your baby’s drowsy signs, “drowsy but awake” becomes really simple.

 You can start this at any age, even as young as 4 weeks old. 

The biggest piece of comfort you gave us is: Max is not crying because he’s in pain but instead because he’s frustrated.  This piece of knowledge really hit home for me and made the biggest impact. Do you find that other parents find comfort in this as well?

Yes! As parents, we understand that we can’t do everything for our children. We can’t learn to ride a two-wheeler for them, we can’t pass their 4th-grade math test for them, and we can’t find the perfect partner for them. Nor should we want to! 

 Our goal as parents is to give our children the skills to get out there and live a great life, to suck the marrow out of life. We know, intuitively, that our children will become frustrated with things in life as they experience the growing pains of learning new skills. And healthy parents are ok with that. We know it’s our role to serve as our children’s greatest cheerleaders as they progress through life, sometimes stepping back and rooting from the sidelines. 

 Understanding sleep training in this vein really helps to see things in perspective for parents. You’re not being cruel and selfish so that you can sleep again – you’re standing back, rooting your heart out for your little baby, so that you can give him the gift of sleep, which will enhance the quality of his life for as long as he lives. 

 Just for fun, if you could pick 3 dinner guests, dead or alive, who would they be? 

  1.     Jamie O’banion, founder of Beauty Bio. She’s a rare combination of brains, beauty, and passion. I am constantly inspired by her focus, drive, positivity, and eloquence. She seems like a great mom as well, very devoted and deliberate in her parenting. 
  2.     Dr. Laura Markham- my parenting idol. Every mom would love a check-in with someone she respects and gain some reassurance that she’s doing a good job with her kids!
  3.     My grandfather – we were very close, and he passed shortly after my wedding. I’d love for him to meet my twins. 

How can parents contact you if they want to work with you?

Come follow me on Instagram! I give lots and lots of baby sleep advice there! DM me or reach out to me through my website, to sign up for a free 15 minute consult to see if we can get your baby sleeping! You can also sign up for my weekly email sleep tips on my site. 

Instagram @babysleepmaven 


 Want to read more about my pregnancy journey?  Click here and here. 


You Might Also Like