Every bleary-eyed parent knows all too well the importance of a good night’s sleep — if your baby is constantly waking during the middle of the night, your own sleep patterns will inevitably be disrupted, leaving you tired and grumpy in the morning. If you can identify with this situation and could use some help, meet Grace Wongtong, Bangkok’s own English-speaking baby whisperer.
How did you learn that you had a gift for sleeping training?
I have many years of experience with children, having worked as a babysitter, nanny and teacher’s assistant at an international pre-school. In 2011, I was helping a mum at night, caring for the baby so she could rest. I learned more about the child’s sleep habits, and found that I could teach the baby to sleep through the night. It took 6 nights. Other sleep training cases followed, through word of mouth recommendations and postings at various mother’s groups. These days, there is a steady demand for my services, mostly from expats, but also some Thai families.
What is your training method?
I teach babies to sleep, more than just letting them cry by themselves. First, I will talk to the parents to work out the issues and learn the baby’s routine. For the first night, I just need the baby to feel calm, maybe with some carrying, rocking, or other preferred form of soothing – I will do most of the same things the parents do. There will be some crying in the beginning, especially if the baby never had to sleep alone. Also, I am a stranger and they aren’t use to me. I will adjust my method accordingly, as all babies are different. The next night, I will change things a bit and see the baby’s reaction. On subsequent nights, the baby will spend more and more time in the cot by themselves.
How long does it take?
Five to six nights, maybe less. I will come to your home at 7 in the evening and leave at 6 the next morning, but my hours are flexible, depending on the baby’s schedule.
Can the training involve the baby’s parents, or do you prefer to have full control over the process?
It’s really up to the parents, and what they feel comfortable doing. Parents are welcome to train the baby themselves, with my help and suggestions, or I can incorporate some of their wishes. It can be a challenge, however, if the baby is accustomed to crying and expecting to get what he or she wants when the parents are around.
How old are the babies you typically train?
Well, the baby must be around 5 months old to be able to sleep through the night, so the age range is 5 months to 24 months. The child must still be sleeping in their own cot, without being able to run out of the room. I also help mums with infants who want to establish regular nap times and easy sleep routines early on.
Do you sleep train toddlers?
Sleep training gets harder for older babies, but I have worked with toddlers who are 2 or 2.5 years old. I will offer recommendations, such as bed placement and bedtime routines, but it is very hard to sleep train if the child is no longer in a cot.
What is your success rate?
On the whole, it’s good. I will establish the expectations before I start, but some parents change their minds in the middle of the training, so there is no success. Parents must be determined to be successful in order for my sleep training to work. And after 5 days with me, parents must continue with the training path.