The Baby Whisperer

Vonda Dennis’ clients like to joke that she carries magic pixie dust in her pockets. After all, how else could a crying baby settle so quickly for her? According to the Los Angeles Times, Vonda says that what she does isn’t so much magic but 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.

For parents who have lost their way, sleep consultants – whose services generally run $200 to $800 – function in the same way as business consultants. They serve as trusted and experienced third-party experts who take time to learn the specifics of a family’s particular situation and then create a customized plan.

Many of the tips sound a lot like common sense: Don’t walk a baby around a well-lighted house; try not to make eye contact at 3 in the morning; create a nighttime routine. But the key to their success is devising a plan that parents will stick with, and then holding their hand through the tough times.

Photo by peasap

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