Sleep Coaches = Sweet Dreams

07.13.10 Consultants can help new parents and their babies get the z's they desperately need.

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Anxious parents with sleepless newborns, this one is for you: Help is just a phone call away. Figuring out how long to let your newborn cry before you rush to their side can be a pain, but it doesn't have to be with the services of a sleep consultant, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Sleep experts and consultants say that it's not so much training the babies first, but training the parents, according to the Times. "There is so much information out there that it keeps people from using their intuition," says Brandi Rouse, an Atwater Village, Calif., sleep consultant, as quoted in the Times article. (I'm guessing that's hard to do at 3 a.m. when baby is screaming and you're dead-tired.)

For exhausted parents drowning in information, a sleep consultant serves as an experienced third party who learns the specifics of your situation and then creates a custom plan-of-attack to get your baby to go to sleep and stay asleep, the Times reports. Tips include not walking around a well-lighted house with baby to "Ferberizing" your baby (cry it out) or Sleep Shuffle plan (a parent snoozes next to the crib and gradually moves farther away each night).

After the plan is in place, the consultants also offer follow-up calls and visits to help troubleshoot and keep sleep-deprived parents on track. (Read: Lots of hand-holding and reassurance.)

Despite the recession, business is booming, sleep consultants are quoted in the Times. For a sleep coach's service, expect to pay about $200 to $800.

Most parents who can't figure out why baby won't sleep have to accept the fact that they need help, the Times says. "You think it should come naturally," said a Los Angeles mom in the article who wound up hiring a sleep consultant when her daughter was 9 months old.

Believe it or not, a good night's sleep can be had with a new baby in the house. Here are our tips for encouraging good sleeping habits from the start and how to do it safely. Plus, check out our rundown of 10 baby sleep guides, old and new.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.