When it comes to babies and toddlers, sleep can often be a source of parents’ stress. But not for mom-of-two Jensine Casey. The certified sleep consultant, who lives just north of Boston, is founder of Baby O and I, and helps make parents’ “dreams” come true.
Q: What exactly does a sleep consultant do?
A: I work one-on-one with families to identify their sleep issues and develop a plan to get their child sleeping independently. Families typically come to me when they are in a sleep situation that is not working for the entire family, and we work together to find a method and solution that both parents are happy with.
Q: How did you get into this line of work? What were you doing beforehand?
A: I worked as a Developmental Specialist in Early Intervention for years, and I found that I was talking with a lot of families about sleep -- how to get children to nap, when to schedule naps, expectations for sleep at certain ages. I knew when I found out I was expecting my second son that I wanted to work for myself, and since I had done so much work around sleep and knew it was a huge need for parents it felt like a logical next step.
Q: What’s the most common issue parents seek your help for?
A: A lot of parents reach out to me when they feel they have done everything to get their child to sleep, but no other methods have worked. No matter the age, having a child sleep independently in their own space, and stay asleep, can pose a huge challenge.
Q: What’s one of the most common mistakes parents make when it comes to their child’s sleep?
A: One of the hardest things to know is how awake time impacts a child's sleep. Too much or not enough awake time during the day both impact a child’s sleep. There is a “sweet spot” that each child should get, but can be hard to identify.
Q: What’s the process of working with a sleep consultant?
A: Families fill out a detailed questionnaire on their current sleep situation; naps and nighttime. From there, I put together an individualized sleep plan with what to do in each sleep situation, step-by-step, for two weeks. Each child and family situation I work with is different, so no two plans are the same.
We review the plan to ensure a family feels 100% comfortable going forward, because if they’re not comfortable with the plan they will be less likely to follow it, and the child will not be the successful sleeper we all want. I am there for the two weeks parents are implementing the plan to answer any questions and troubleshoot issues that arise.
No-one learns how to do something perfectly the first time, so having a sleep consultant at your fingertips is crucial to meeting those sleep goals.
Q: Are there any never-break bedtime rules in your household?
A: I’m very type-A (my poor husband!) and follow the rules to a tee, but with two children less than two years apart I have learned to let things slide and bend the rules. But I do have a big rule about screen time before bed. No matter what's happening, the TV is turned off at least one hour before bedtime for my oldest. I’ve found he is much calmer and ready to sleep when we start his bedtime routine.
Q: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about yourself after becoming a mom?
A: I knew I wanted to be a mom from a very young age, but being a mom is totally different from what I envisioned! One thing that’s surprised me is just the overwhelming love that you can feel for your children, and the fierce need to protect them from anything and everything that can be harmful. I’ve also discovered that I’m a bit of a control freak and need to work on letting go and trusting others with tasks that have to do with my boys. Easier said than done!
Q: If you were stranded with your kids, what are three things you hope you’d have on hand?
A: Snacks are my first thought, because one of them is always hungry!
A change of clothes for each would be second because my boys love messy play and if there is any type of water/mud/sand where we are stranded they will find it right away!
And the third would be a book because we love to snuggle and read together during the day. Hopefully that would help pass the time until we were found!