- Name: Lucy Shrimpton (The Sleep Nanny)
- Children: 2
- Where: Hampshire, UK
Lucy, has helped hundreds of tired parents and children around the world to win bedtime battles and finally gain the holy grail for parents, the gift of a good night’s sleep! Known as The Sleep Nanny®, mum of two Lucy, is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach and Maternity and Child Sleep Consultant so we sat down with her to see if some of her magic would rub off on us!
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Lucy, as a busy Mum of 2, what made you want to be a sleep consultant?
When my husband and I had our first child we had no idea what to expect in terms of sleep. Things started off pretty well because our little boy got himself into a nice rhythm with his feeds and he began to take a long stretch of sleep in the night after just a few weeks. By around six weeks he didn’t need a night feed and we thought we had cracked it! I remember someone saying, ‘haha, that won’t last’ to which I remained quite smug thinking of course it would last! But inevitably we came unstuck which I blamed on the fact we had a house guest for around 5 weeks and a new reliance on his dummy which was only a feature at bedtime before. Maybe this did have an effect on him, but what I do know, is that it couldn’t have been the sole cause for the sleep difficulties we came to endure over a sleepless four month period. I was pregnant with our second, so we sought professional help to address early risings, frequent night wakings and his refusal to nap - We were exhausted!
Within just one night of our sleep plan our little boy slept through the night and within a week we stretched out his early starts to 7am - Yes! Naps continued to be a challenge but we were converted to sleep training! What I had learnt made so much sense that I looked into the science a little further and became fascinated with the subject.
The whole topic of infant sleep coupled with helping others, became a passion of mine - I trained with one of the worlds leading experts in infant sleep and the most comprehensive training programme available. After months of study and examinations, I also completed a diploma in maternity and child sleep consulting. More recently I have received additional training accredited by the RCN and RCPCH through the NHS and I continue to study to maintain and advance my knowledge. My experience as a mother and professional sleep consultant has taught me so much, and I am always learning- there is always a new challenge and another solution. I understand what it’s like to be sleep deprived, I spent a week in hospital after a difficult birth with my eldest and the sleep deprivation I experienced during this time was horrendous. In some countries they use it as a form of torture, and I know why now! It does crazy things to both your mind and body, and no wonder it can easily trigger depression. To think of other parents out there experiencing similar effects of sleep deprivation fills me with compassion and leaves me bursting to help.
What is a Gentle Sleep Coach? How does your method differ to that of other sleep consultants?
Many parents are wary of sleep training and have already abandoned all hope of a solution for their family. At The Sleep Nanny®, we work together to formulate a unique sleep plan that is easy to implement and will empower you to become your own child’s sleep expert. I can equip you with insights and recommendations by highlighting the science of sleep, help you understand sleep associations, provide deeper insights into common problems and contributing factors and shed light on the importance of naps and routine. A gentle sleep coach stays away from harsh sleep training techniques and promotes responsive and supportive attitudes to sleep.
What are the top three common mistakes that parents make, when trying to get their nights with a newborn, under control?
When a newborn arrives, we have health care providers to help us with how to hold them, feed them, change them, bath them and even swaddle them - but not how to parent or teach our little ones to sleep.
Sleep is a learned skill and this is important to understand. The modern world sees more and more working mums juggling family, work and more! We are all doing our best and try very hard to do everything that’s asked of us but it’s just not possible, parents with newborns do not make mistakes - they encounter challenges which can easily be rectified by understanding three simple things.
1.Newborns tend to sleep more often but it is generally a light sleep, nevertheless use this time to sleep as much as possible and allow friends or family to help with others things like housework, cooking and caring for other children if possible. A newborn will wake in the night for feeds, so catch up on sleep when you can.
2.Forget about the concept of ‘bad habits’ for the first 3-4 months. Go with your natural instincts and your baby’s cues, as no two children are the same. Once you reach 4-6 months you can easily undo any habits that you don’t want to become lasting.
3.Don’t be pressured or expect too much too soon. Newborns need your help to settle to sleep - it is a learned skill and they cannot do it on their own yet. You can begin to shape and guide them but this is just practice until at least 4 months when they are developmentally ready for you to further encourage and help them to master some sleep skills.
As sleep deprived working parents ourselves we were intrigued to read about your Corporate Coaching which sounds like a great idea. How do you work with companies to get the most out of their sleep deprived employees and what sort of benefits do they see when employing your methods?
Working parents have a lot to juggle and being kept up all night by a child who does not sleep well can have serious effects on the whole family’s health and well-being not to mention a poor performance in the workplace and negative impact on concentration, memory and relationships in the workplace. With a talk, workshop or training session from The Sleep Nanny®, we can improve the performance of tired employees by helping them to understand the science behind infant sleep, recognise the causes behind their own problems as well as what they might be doing to maintain the problem and finally introduce them to simple techniques to improve their child’s sleep that very evening. It is about education and empowerment. Better rested parents return to work with more energy for higher performance and feel supported by their workplace for bringing in this kind of help.
As a Sleep Consultant now what advice would you go back and give your sleep-deprived-parenting-self, if you could?!
Oh wow, there is so much. I think one of the biggest pieces of advice I would go back and give myself first time round is to rest and recover during those first few days, particularly because I had a tough delivery. I had no idea of the post traumatic effects this would have on me. Then, less for the newborn stage because this went pretty well once we were home but rather for the point at which things came unstuck for us around 15 months - I would advise myself to look at how my son was getting to sleep at bedtime in order to identify why my son was waking up in the night. I would also advise myself that over tiredness causes early rising and that the lack of napping was part of the problem at night. This is true for so many families.
The Up All Hours community are a nosey bunch so we like to end each interview with the Up All Hours quick fire round…….
Up All Hours watching… Suits
Up All Hours reading… Non-Fiction usually with some psychology
Up All Hours wearing… If out, something pretty. If in, something comfortable!
Up All Hours eating… Steak or ribs!
Up All Hours listening to… Chilled out tunes or commercial rock
If you could be Up All Hours with anyone who would it be? Oprah