Sleep consultant and “new parent mentor” Vonda Dennis’ clients like to say that she carries magic pixie dust in her pockets. How else to explain a screaming baby so quickly settling to sleep in her arms?
But Dennis says a lot of what she does to quiet a baby is simply common sense. “Most of what I tell my clients sounds really reasonable, and a lot of it is basic logic that parents have, but just aren’t pulling from,” she said.
In her postnatal mentoring sessions, Dennis focuses on “Believing in Yourself” and “Instinct Training” as well as sleep training and relaxation. The goal, she said, is “not so much training the babies, but training the parents.”
Although all types of people seek out sleep consultants, Dennis’ clients tend to be high-performing professionals, mostly in their late 30s and early 40s. “It’s funny and cute at the same time,” she said. “Most of them run companies or are heads of major corporations, but they cannot figure out how to get a little person to sleep.”
Sleep consultants such as Dennis say that despite the recession, their business is booming. Jill Spivack, co-founder of Sleepy Planet, a sleep consultancy firm in Santa Monica, suggested that the poor economy might be fueling anxiety and stress in the home. That may be part of it, but most of the parents and sleep consultants I spoke with said the uptick has more to do with increasingly befuddled and over-educated parents drowning in information overload.
“My mother said, ‘All we had was Dr. Spock; no wonder you are all confused,’” said Eileen Henry, a 48-year-old sleep consultant based in Colorado. “I also think we all cry uncle sooner.”