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Active Families and Healthy Sleep

Friday May. 30th, 2014

Montana has such wonderful recreational activities to offer. Sharing these activities with our children is a one of a kind experience for parents. If you are a parent of a young child, or are planning on starting a family, I am here to tell you that you do not need to give up these passions in order to maintain healthy sleep for your child; you can have both!

My name is Diana Julian and I am Montana’s Certified Child Sleep Consultant. I am the owner of Big Sky Lullaby and I teach parents how to teach their children to sleep. My passion for this work began while working as a night time nanny for a family with multiples while attending college. After graduating, I took a position at Florence Crittenton where I thoroughly enjoyed the life changing experience I had as an educator and source of support for the young mothers in the program.

Before having a child of my own, I had ten years of experience working with children, specifically infants. I thought that this experience partnered with my degree in social services and developmental psychology gave me a valid understanding of infant sleep, and that I would automatically know what to do when it came time to making sure my own child was getting the rest he needed. This belief soon changed as I found myself with a 10 month old child who never slept for more than two hours at a time. I sought the help of a Child Sleep Consultant and my life changed dramatically.

Since this experience, my passion has grown immensely. I started out with a love for working with infants and promoting healthy habits, and now I have the knowledge to go along with this desire. Having been a client as a mother before taking this on as a profession, gives me a unique insight to this program. I am devoted to helping others find the peace and rest that I experience and take pride in as a parent every day.

The best advice I can give to parents is to set limits; children need boundaries and sleep is not an exception. Take a proactive approach to infant sleep and learn the nuts and bolts so that you can maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, and teach this way of life to your kids. Outdoor activities are important to my husband and I, and we were excited to introduce these opportunities to our son. This sounded like a great idea until we found ourselves with a constantly fussy and irritated infant. As a sleep deprived parent, just going to the grocery store is difficult, which left outdoor recreation out of the question. Colic! People screamed at us, as if this was the magic answer, simply the cards we were dealt and there was nothing we could do about it. When I asked my pediatrician what to do, I was left with an answer that many parents have heard; “just let him cry,” this was simply unacceptable to me and I searched for an alternative. I found one in the arms of a customized sleep plan created specifically for my child. Throughout the training process, my husband and I not only learned how to put our son to sleep, but also, when, where, and why. The knowledge we gained through the process set us up for sleep success not only for our son but for our family as a whole. This proactive approach was the alternative I was searching for, as opposed to, “he will grow out of it.” My child did not suffer from colic, he was not an “unhappy” baby, he was not a “poor sleeper;” he was simply exhausted.

My private in-home consultations give me the opportunity to work with parents one on one and tailor the sleep training process to their specific schedule while maintaining the parenting style of their choice. I am also able to meet their child and take a look at their sleeping environment to make sure everything is in order. Although the in-home consultations provide the obvious personalization, all of my services can be completed over the phone, through emails or Skype. The majority of my work is done using a “sleep intervention package” in which I create a customized sleep plan that will give your child’s sleep schedule a full adjustment. This allows me to teach parents how to break the bad habits and how to implement new and healthy ones. Most importantly, I am with the parents every step of the way throughout the training process, offering support and answering questions.

Ideally for parents, preventing the need for sleep intervention would be the best option. For this reason I have several options for expecting parents where I will teach them what to expect and when to expect it, as well as which milestones will occur when and how to approach them. I am a strong believer in entering parenthood with a strong understanding of infant/toddler sleep, however, when parents (especially first time parents) are still in the pregnancy phase, I refer to it as the “honeymoon period” because they often do not want to anticipate the need for help with their child’s sleep patterns. Although this is understandable, I am sure that there are enough sleep deprived parents out there that could tell each expecting parent out there that they should rethink that decision.

Not everyone that needs their questions answered needs a sleep intervention package. For this reason I have several options to choose from in order to provide my clients with one on one time with me so that I can answer all of their questions and ensure that their family is practicing healthy sleep.

My efforts are not to scare you, they are to prepare you, and teach you how to take control of your child’s sleep habits before they begin to control you. Sleep is an essential part of our development, but unfortunately in the hectic society that we live in its importance often gets put on the back burner. Sleep influences cognitive development, mood fluctuation, overall health and much more, the list is endless. Learning the best ways to implement healthy sleep routines as a family will help your children maintain these healthy rituals as they grow. The empowerment that is felt as a parent knowing that you are giving your child the gift of healthy sleep is indescribable. Having once been a sleep deprived parent terrified of my child’s sleep patterns and behavior, if you are struggling with a similar situation, let me help you turn that around in order to become proud, proactive and sleeping properly!    

Diana Julian is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and the owner of Big Sky Lullaby, a Montana based consulting company specializing in teaching parents how to teach their children to sleep. Call for your FREE 15 minute consultation at (406) 431-7240, email her at info@bigskylullaby.com or visit her website at BigSkyLullaby.com