SNAPSHOT: Confident Parenting is a sleep consulting company founded by Erica Desper, a pediatric sleep consultant that works closely with families to create step-by-step, personalized sleep solutions that suit the parent’s style and the child’s personality.
Q. What was your motivation for starting Confident Parenting?
A. I have worked with children, family, in various capacities for 15 years. I had broad ideas for the type of business I wanted to start but I found that everyone really wanted help with their children’s sleeping issues. I started taking classes to get certified as a sleep consultant when I found out that I was pregnant. My son was a terrible sleeper and challenged everything that I read or learned in class.
When you are not sleeping, you don’t have the energy to read let alone apply many of the sleep strategies that are available. I humbly found this to be true for myself. I had a lot of knowledge and yet was so sleep deprived that I could have really benefited from having someone who was knowledgeable and well rested saying here is what you can do and more importantly, let me walk you through this step by step.
From that experience, Confident Parenting was developed. I didn’t have anyone to practically walk me through my challenges so I wanted to be that source of help. My goal is to make sleep solutions accessible to everyone, regardless of budget. That is why I teach a variety of classes all over Philadelphia in addition to my 1:1 consultations. The group classes are in a Q&A format where I answer some of the common questions that parents have. For example, why is my baby walking up every 2-3 hours ever night? Why is my baby only napping for 30 minutes? Do I have to let my child cry it out?
Q. What is your approach to helping families with their sleep difficulties?
A. Before we jump right to a “sleep solution”, or sleep method, I work with families to understand and change the child’s schedule, environment, etc to see if there is a positive impact on sleep. A lot of families find that the little changes we make combined with education on common sleep issues are enough to fix the sleep problem. Many of those families don’t require additional help from me. However, other parents find that they still have sleepless children even after we make changes to the child’s environment. It is then that I work with families on developing a tailored sleep method plan for the child.
In general, there are three basic methods that serve as a foundation for the vast majority of sleep solutions that people either read or hear about: (1) the cry it out method (2) the check and console method where the parents take turns checking in on the child in intervals or (3) the fading or shuffle method where the parent stays with their child for the entire time as the child falls asleep.
While it is helpful to understand the different categories of methods, it’s important to recognize that there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach. That is why I offer a range of packages and work with families to develop and implement a strategy based on the parents beliefs, lifestyle, etc as well as the child’s temperament, routine, etc.
Q. What are the different services that you offer?
A. From the website, Sleep Solutions Total Package: “Perfect if your family wants help both creating and implementing a plan. The follow up support allows me to walk you through the process with scheduled phone calls of flexible length, email, and even in-the-moment text support to troubleshoot nap times, bedtimes, and management of unforeseen challenges.”
Consultation Only: “The Consultation Only option is ideal if your family wants help to create a plan but can implement the plan on your own. Follow up support is not included.”
Newborn Sessions: “This 60-minute session is designed for parents with babies 3 months and under. You will learn the science of newborn sleep, reasonable expectations for the first months, how to turn on your baby’s calming reflex using Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 Ss from The Happiest Baby on The Block, and how to encourage healthy sleep habits from the start. ”
Q. What is the role of fathers in your sleep strategy?
A. Fathers are incredibly important to the process. I will often suggest that we tweak a few things in the beginning so that both parents can catch up on some sleep. For example, I will get the dad to switch shifts with the mom at night so that mom can have a little rest. Even four hour blocks of uninterrupted time can be incredibly helpful for the sleep deprived mom.
I find that a lot of dads are ready and willing to help but are not sure what they can do. My job is to bring partners in and establish techniques that empower them and make them feel that they are part of the process. The best reward is when I visit families afterwards and the dads feel like rock stars because they can get their baby to bed. It’s really wonderful!