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Interview with Rachel Fiorello of The Cradle Coach: Local Experts on Kids’ Sleep

Hi, Rachel! Thank you so much for chatting with us today on Palm Beach Moms Blog, as a local expert on kids’ sleep from The Cradle Coach.

Can you start by telling us a little bit about The Cradle Coach?

We are a group of certified sleep consultants who help parents get their babies, toddlers, or children to sleep, and to sleep well. Sleep is so important for so many things: development, health, and also for parents to have a routine, a schedule, and to know what to expect from their child in terms of their sleep. We are very passionate about what we do, and really enjoy the families that we work with.

What does it mean to be a sleep consultant?

A sleep consultant is there to help teach parents how to get their babies and children to sleep well, and to coach parents through these changes. We are all certified pediatric sleep consultants, and we work with children through the age of four.

Can people do it without a consultant? Absolutely. We are here to provide one-on-one support, to cater to your child’s specific needs, as well as your desires as a parent, and to stick within your parenting philosophy, to develop a plan that everybody is comfortable with. That’s the benefit of working with us as a sleep consultant.

Around what age can you start getting a baby on a sleep schedule?

I like for people to enjoy the newborn stage; there’s no need to worry about bad habits, or to think that any bad sleep habits can develop during that time. We say that you should sleep train at the age of four months, or twelve pounds. Of course, many babies are twelve pounds before four months, so at a minimum, I like to work with babies who are at least three months of age and a minimum of twelve pounds.

What age groups need a sleep schedule?

That’s a good question. From that point of being ready for sleep training, it’s not that you need a sleep schedule, but having one is life changing. It truly is. It enables parents to have expectations for their child and to know that I put my child down at this time, they’re going to wake up at this time, and here is what I can do during that time: I can have time with my spouse or partner; I can get things done that I need to get done; I can work, if you work from home; things like that.

So, if you are sleep training your child at such a young age, it carries with them, as long as you continue that consistency and routine for them. It follows them through toddlerhood; it follows them through childhood. And of course, there are times that we adapt schedules, and we drop naps, and we change things; maybe they don’t need as much sleep as they get older or school-aged, but it is still so important to have a sleep schedule so their bodies can predict that. And they can predict it. As babies turn into toddlers, they have such a developmental need for control. They start to realize that they have some control, and they like knowing what to expect. So, a sleep routine becomes a safe place for them, to know that this is bedtime; their body can feel it. It really helps.

We all know how tough it is to function when we’re lacking sleep, especially as parents. How important is quality sleep for kids?

Quality sleep is incredibly important for children. It is a fundamental part of their health and development. It also helps when they’re sick. What do people tell you when you’re sick? Rest. If your child is already getting the proper amount of sleep for their age; you’re already there, so that additional sleep kicks in when the time is right, to help them get better from being sick. It helps to prevent them from getting sick. If they’re getting the sleep they need, their bodies can heal faster.

Sleep is also important for childhood development because there is so much going on as they’re growing. Leaps and growth spurts happen because their brains are growing so rapidly and developing so quickly. If they’re getting the sleep they need, their body is getting rest, and allowing the time that it needs to help them grow in a healthy way.

On the flip side of that, is there an age when it is too late to implement a sleep schedule, like if you have an older baby, toddler, or preschooler who is not sleeping well?

Not really. I had a client who was almost five years old, and he never had a sleep schedule or slept by himself. I went over to their house and taught the parents how to help him sleep. Afterwards, they told me, they felt like they had a new child after they were consistent and he learned the new sleep schedule; because finally, he was getting the sleep that he needed, on an independent level and in a way that allowed him to be his true self.

So, I wouldn’t say that it is ever too late. We work with children through the age of four, so up to age five. The reason we only work with up to school age is that so much change happens then. There is a schedule that happens, and they are awake earlier. But it is still not too late then, it is just up to the parent to create a safe space, and help the child understand that sleep is so necessary, and it is also needed in an independent way. We can teach our children that, regardless of their age, and I would say that it is never too late to do so, it’s just that our approach has to change, based on the age of the child.

Is sleep coaching the same as letting your baby cry it out?

No, and thank you for asking that. Cry it out is a sleep training method. Sleep coaching is hiring someone to help you get your baby in the place where they should be when it comes to sleep and getting the sleep they need for their age and situation. We use a variety of sleep training methods, and we choose one that we feel is best for that client.

We ask all our parents what their philosophies are when it comes to crying. We then honor that as best we can because again, we want to stick within their parenting philosophy. If we don’t, I don’t expect the parent to implement the plan, because they’re not going to be comfortable, and if they’re not comfortable, it’s not going to work. So we work to create a plan that the parent is comfortable with so they can be successful, and also one that is right for the child based on their personality, age, and temperament, which are questions that we ask on an intake form that we have all of our clients fill out upon purchasing a package.

What types of plans are available, for someone interested in working with a sleep consultant?

We offer three major plans: Coach Me, Tell Me, and Show Me.

“Coach Me” is our basic support package. We coach our parents through their plan by creating a video for them. We give them a sleep guide, two sleep training methods, and lots of other tips that can help them along the way, as well as through the initial process. From there we create a video, where I can coach them through it, in a prerecorded video that I make specifically for them and their child. They then will get three days of email follow-up support, once they are ready to begin the sleep training process.

“Tell Me” provides an extra support package. I still have the client fill out that intake form that we discussed earlier, and that’s where we gather the information that we need to create their customized plan. We then create a full sleep plan for the child. The parent will have that to print out, to keep and to reference, or to let another caregiver read through it and follow the same plan. We also take a virtual tour of the child’s room or nursery. Once we create their plan, we then get on a call with the caregivers and tell them what they need to do. We can talk through it, and make sure that everyone is on the same page, that the parent fully understands it, and they get their questions answered before starting. Once they begin sleep training, they have seven days of email support, and they also get a future 20-minute phone call, that they can use at some point in the future if there is another change or something else they want to address.

“Show Me” is our maximum support package. What we do is show you how to sleep train your child, by coaching you through it as you’re doing it. We do it for people all around the country, all around the world. I’ve had many clients do this package in other countries. We either get on a call with them via Facetime, Skype, Zoom, etc., and we have them set up the camera so we can watch them go through the process as we coach them through it. We are there to tell the parent exactly what to do live, as they’re doing it.

Initially, they fill out the intake form; we do a tour of the nursery; we give them a customized plan, and we have that two-hour virtual training session where we’re coaching them live. We also, for local clients, go to the home and provide that same package in the home with them. Then, with that package, we give two weeks of email support, and two scheduled phone calls to use during those two weeks as well.

With that package, they also get admission into our sleep membership group, which is a private Facebook group for our membership clients, and this is the only package that allows free access for life to that group. We have special things going on there like private Q&A sessions for those clients, special topic discussions, posts, guides, charts, other parents to talk through things with, and of course a sleep consultant answering your questions for life when you join the membership group through that package as well. You can also join the membership group separately, and that is a monthly option to purchase.

Rachel Fiorello is a Senior Sleep Consultant and Director of Operations with The Cradle Coach.

“I am the luckiest girl in the world to have been with my amazing husband for 11 years and married for almost seven, and to be the mother of my two perfectly precious girls. I have loved children for as long as I can remember. From babysitting throughout my younger years to being a nanny in college, I have always found myself drawn to little ones. In fact, my first job out of college was working for a children’s television network! I always looked forward to the day that I would become a mother.

I love my sleep and throughout both of my pregnancies, I was constantly told to enjoy it while I could. During my first pregnancy, a stranger even told me to remember the name, The Cradle Coach. I stored that into my memory – thank goodness!

My older daughter had been a great sleeper since she was born but my husband and I really didn’t know where to start to get her onto a set routine or to get her to sleep through the night. I recalled my conversation with that lovely stranger I met months before and gave The Cradle Coach a call. The next night, at 3.5 months, my daughter was sleeping for 12 hours straight and napping like a champion during the day! Two and a half years later, we did the same thing for our younger daughter and she, too, has become an incredible sleeper (she definitely didn’t start out that way like her sister did)!

I am honored to help other parents get the sleep both they and their little ones need. It can be hard to take that first step and I love being with them every step of the way.”

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