‘Baby Sleep Whisperer’ Has Secrets to Help Parents Love the Dark Again

From The Baby Sleep Whisperer's Facebook page

The Baby Sleep Whisperer is the kind of illustrious title that shouldn’t be touted unless you have the goods to back it up.

Putting a fussy baby to bed is serious business, particularly for sleep deprived new parents. Westport-based pediatric and adult sleep specialist and nutritionist Ingrid Prueher understands this.

When her second child was born, Prueher went through the ringer with getting him to sleep for more than two or three hours at a time. If she was struggling this way—as someone who had a bit of pediatric knowledge—she knew there were other parents out there who were dealing with the same issues.

Prueher has dedicated her life to babies, and she believes the sleep and nutrition of an infant is paramount to a happy and healthy start in life.

“Sleep is everything,” she says. “It prevents you from having highs and lows. It balances your hormones. If you sleep well you eat well, and if you eat well, you sleep well.”That is the crux of Prueher’s (right) business plan. Sleep is vital not just for baby but for parents as well. It can be achieved for any child—beginning when they are a newborn—by following what she calls the “five layers of cake.”

Those five layers start with making sure your baby is in an environment conducive to sleep, one that replicates the womb.

The second layer is being sure your child is eating efficiently, not too often and not infrequently. Poor nutrition will prevent babies from getting a restful sleep.

You also want to make sure your child is not going to bed over-tired. If they do, they will require more soothing, which is when sleep associations begin like rocking or holding your baby to put them to bed.

The fourth layer is to give your baby the right sleep cues. You want to establish set routines for both nap and bedtime. Prueher insists this can be done from day one, and doesn’t have to be implemented when they’re older. It will only get more difficult to establish routines the older they get.

And finally, you want to wean your child off of sleep associations like using a bouncing ball.

“This can be done whether you’re bed sharing, co-sleeping or having your child sleep in different room,” Prueher assures.

The ideal situation is to put your baby down to bed easily and have them sleep through the night. This is possible for every family as long as all caregivers are on the same page and there is follow through with the plan.“Parents don’t realize what’s happening. They’re not truly looking at their child as a little being that needs certain structure to sleep through the night. They’re in a reactive mode,” says Prueher. “‘Oh the baby is getting upset, let’s feed them.’ Days go by, and they don’t know what day of the week is. They’re sleep deprived.”

Prueher became a certified child sleep consultant through the Family Sleep Institute (FSI), which was founded by her friend Deborah Pedrick. She reached out to Pedrick for advice about putting her son Maximo to sleep. Prueher had been running a successful baby planning and consulting service for some time after leaving the finance world.“Our training and certification program is setting the highest of standards in the sleep consulting industry,” Pedrick says in a press release. “The level of professionalism and success of our FSI grads far exceeds any other educational program in this industry. We are literally creating a world of great sleepers, thanks to graduates like Ingrid Prueher."

Prueher was officially certified as a Pediatric Sleep Consultant and has become a lactation counselor. She founded her website, babysleepwhisperer.com, in order to reach frustrated families who are searching for help.

She also works with adults who struggle to sleep. Her oldest client was 71 years old. Prueher says many of the “cake layers” can be implemented at any age.

Since launching her website in 2011, she has worked with more than 700 families either virtually or in person. Most of the babies she works with find restful sleep quickly. Some babies sleep as soon as the first night or typically by the end of a weekend. Prueher cannot offer a 100 percent guarantee because success revolves around parents following through with the plan. But when the plan is adhered to, sleep follows.

"Ingrid is amazing, plain and simple. Our 3 year old son was unable to go to sleep without being rocked, and sometimes bedtime would take hours!! Within 4 days of working with Ingrid, he was in bed without protest and falling asleep all on his own. Ingrid is knowledgeable, respectful of your parenting beliefs, while also a firm coach who can dole out the tough love! She is worth every penny to regain your sleep and sanity back, as well as to set up healthy sleep habits for your child." 

— Paula W., mom of one, Lake Mills, Wisconsin

Prueher stars in her own reality web series on Parents.com called Baby Sleep 911 (below) where she meets with parents and helps them put their babies to bed. Watch a short episode here.

She also hosts a blog talk radio station from 9 to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays called Baby Sleep 911 Help in order to “reach the masses” with free advice.​Prueher is dedicated to this work because she wants to “minimize postpartum depression” and to reduce sleep deprivation. She knows of many parents who put their babies in the car and drive them around to get them to sleep.

“That’s driving while you’re impaired. That’s illegal,” she says. Prueher wants to eliminate the accidents that happen because exhausted parents get behind the wheel.

Interested parents can contact Prueher and fellow certified pediatric sleep consultant Lauren Yelvington through babysleepwhisperer.com to schedule a 20 minute “get acquainted” meeting.

For more information on The Baby Sleep Whisperer, visit her website or Facebook page. For more information on the Family Sleep Institute, click here

Contact me by email at khartman@connecticutmag.com and follow me on Twitter, and connect with Connecticut Magazine on Twitter, on Facebook and on Google +

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