My name is Diana Flutie and I am a Child Sleep Consultant, certified through the Family Sleep Institute. I am the owner of Big Sky Lullaby, which is primarily a web-based business, but currently serving In-Person consultations throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. I started my business in the beautiful state of Montana, (which I named it after) and travel there often to meet with clients and various resources that I established within the state. The images that you will see on my website were taken by a wonderful photographer across the state of Montana. I hope you enjoy them!
Having a web-based business awards me the opportunity to work with families all around the world, including Brazil, Lebanon, Morocco, Mexico, and across Europe. However, since this is a very personal experience, meeting a family in person and having me in their home, offers an aspect of personalization that I highly value. For that reason, I continue to offer In-Person services throughout the U.S.
I began my career working in a therapeutic home for pregnant and parenting teenage mothers, and grew passionate about teaching them how to care for their child. I also worked with the girls on how to establish a healthy schedule that both mother and child would benefit from. I have spent my career as an avid child health enthusiast, and my first child lead me down the path to becoming a Certified Child Sleep Expert!
After the birth of my son Owen, I became an incredibly sleep deprived mom. With all of my experience with babies and children of all ages, I thought that I would immediately know how to handle all aspects of parenting. I was wrong! I found myself with a nine-month-old baby who woke every 1-2 hours at night and slept sporadically throughout the day. With a husband who worked away from home, I was alone with a baby who did not sleep, and I was desperate for a solution.
I turned to my pediatrician for advice, and soon realized he was not a resource for child sleep like I had assumed. He told me that it was probably just colic and offered no real solution. He also suggested that I leave my baby in his room at night to “cry it out,” without any further instructions or support. I left that appointment discouraged, yet determined, to find a way to teach my child how to sleep without only having one option.
About a week later, a stranger (who must have seen the look of desperation on my face) came up to me and suggested I hire an “Infant Sleep Specialist (otherwise known as a Child Sleep Consultant”). Those three words changed my life! Within two weeks my son went from an overtired, irritable baby, who cried all day long, to being rested & happy. I was able to enjoy being a mother because I was finally well rested and happy also!
During my pregnancy, I received non-stop advice from people about breastfeeding, diapering, clothing, and everything else that comes with being a mom. Never did anyone tell me that I needed to teach my baby how to sleep. So I decided that my mission would be to show parents that help is an option, and give them the sleep training tools they need in order to get their child sleeping, and offer invaluable support along the way!
My training began with my certification through the Family Sleep Institute. I have continued to refine my expertise through studying the teachings of other sleep experts such as Dr. Sears, Dr. Daniel Weissbluth, Dr. Richard Ferber, and Kim West, as well as working directly with other established sleep experts. I have used these trainings to develop my own highly successful method to help families get the sleep they need.
When I hear parents say things like, “You have given us our life back and helped us become happy, proud parents of a joyful baby boy who sleeps 12 hours a night!”, I know that I chose the right career path.
Sleep Help for High Need Babies
My son was a high need baby right out of the gate, although I didn’t know it. The term “high need” was not presented to me until I began studying to become a Child Sleep Consultant, and I read a book written by Dr. Sears. That is when I realized there was an explanation for what I was dealing with all along with my son. Understanding the high need aspects of my son’s personality, provided me with the knowledge to be able to tend to his needs differently. Just like we would customize our approach when teaching children in school who have different needs, it is critical to also customize how we teach them to sleep.
Since I have gained a significant amount of experience both personally and professionally, I have become dedicated to working with families and helping them complete the “sleep” piece of the high need puzzle. My customized approach is based on the individual child, to help ensure successful outcomes for every family!
I am proud to partner with The Fussy Baby Site to help families with high-needs children, and be an expert contributor in their ebook, Sleep Training and the High Needs Baby.
• Bachelor of Science, School of Justice Studies and Social Inquiry; concentration in analytical and persuasive writing, and developmental psychology,
• Arizona State University
• Child Sleep Consultant Certification, Family Sleep Institute
• Member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants
What is a Child Sleep Consultant?
A child Sleep Consultant works with families and teaches them how to teach their child to sleep independently. This results in long, restorative naps, sleeping through the night, (with or without a night feed, depending on age and pediatrician recommendation) and finding comfort in their sleep environment. Child Sleep Consultants work with parents in order to come up with a customized plan that teaches their child self soothing skills.
What are the benefits of hiring a Professional Child Sleep Consultant?
Creating a detailed and thorough, Customized Sleep Plan: Parents that reach out to me, are more often than not… (spoiler alert) EXHAUSTED! Not only from lack of sleep, but also from feeling a sense of defeat pertaining to the issue of sleep in their home. Therefore, it is one of the most important jobs of a Child Sleep Consultant to let your client know that you will now take over from here, and lead them to their desired results!
When working with a sleep consultant, one of the biggest things that we will do, is TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF IT FOR YOU!
• I am going to tell you exactly what to do
• Exactly How to do it
• And I am going to be right there with you as you walk through the sleep training process
Parents don't have to come up with all of the details and answers themselves, they will have a certified child sleep specialist to bounce ideas off of, talk through concerns with, and develop a customized approach that they feel confident implementing consistently. When parents are 100% confident in their sleep plan and the strategy/method they have chosen, (and have reviewed it with a sleep training professional) it makes a BIG DIFFERENCE!
Support: I can honestly say that a vast number of my clientele would have never made it through night 1 without my 1:1 coaching, in real time. Night 1 at bedtime is usually the hardest night of the process. Once we get past that, we have taken a BIG step forward! However, taking that step is not always easy. Having a support network to text or call has had a big impact on my clients over the years. I have even found that explaining to parents that they can reach out to me anytime they want (day or night) during the process, tends to relieve a big portion of their anxiety, if they happen to be anxious about your child's sleep training.
Experiencing “sleep setbacks” during the process is very common, but can often be discouraging to a parent. There are so many changes going on, especially during that first year, which makes it seem like there is always something to deal with.
For example: an approaching milestone can be very disruptive to your toddlers sleep, which causes parents to worry that the sleep training they have worked so hard on is vanishing before their eyes!! This is not the case at all, and it is in moments like this when it is my task as a child sleep consultant to coach you through those frustrating times, walk you through those setbacks, and get you right back on track when they are over.
Accountability: Clients explain that before hiring me, if they tried something to help their child sleep and it didn't work the first time, they never tried again. Or, they report that they tried something and it worked once, but it didn’t work the following night, so they stopped and gave up. Holding clients accountable for the much needed consistency during the sleep training process is one of the other most important jobs of a Child Sleep Consultant. I always remind my clients that we can’t communicate with our babies, therefore the only thing we can do is send them clear and consistent messages!
Troubleshooting: Throughout the two weeks we are often met with “curve balls,” in the form of new teeth, milestones, growth spurts, illness, travel, etc. It is in these moments that parents tend to resort to their old “tricks” just to get back to sleep quickly. If/when you reach a “setback,” instead of giving up, your sleep consultant will talk you through what happened, how things could have gone differently, and what we can do differently in the future. Remember that your child will take time to adjust to the changes in routine and the new schedule that is being established. Try not to forfeit changes too quickly if you are confident in your plan, give them time to straighten out!
BIG Misconceptions about Child Sleep Consultants.
1. We favor the “cry it out” method.
This is always an interesting concept to me because I hired a Child Sleep Consultant for my son (9 years ago) because I refused to use the “cry it out” or “extinction” method, and I was determined to find another way.
2. They will push you in one direction and not leave room for flexibility.
When parents reach out to me, one of the first questions they ask is what my philosophy is and what method I use. Basically, they are asking if their child is going to be crying the entire time. I always explain to parents that there will be crying, however, it does not mean that you need to be separated from your child while they are upset. Also, we don’t have to do anything quickly, gradual approaches are great for many families! There are many options and we can customize them for the perfect fit!
3. We think every child should be our client.
Whenever I present to a large group, I always end my presentation by stating that I do not believe that every child needs the help of a sleep consultant. However, it is my mission, (and a very strong passion of mine) to make sure that the parents who want help and need help, simply know that it exists! Some children are born sensitive sleepers and need help learning skills and adjusting to a schedule, while others are not and their sleep schedules allow for a lot more flexibility. This concept is comparable to breastfeeding with a child who is born and latches right away, versus a child who needs to see a lactation consultant to learn how to latch properly. Sometimes, we all just need a little help!
How do you know if you have found the right Child Sleep Consultant for your family?
Working with a family in this type of setting is intimate, which is why I strongly suggest making sure you are comfortable with the sleep training consultant you hire. It is important to pay attention to a Child Sleep Consultant’s demeanor, the way she offers guidance and advice, and most importantly her willingness to listen to your family's individual needs. One of the most important qualities to look for in a potential candidate is their ability to acknowledge your parenting style and teach you how to make sleep changes, while also respecting your beliefs and possible hesitations toward some aspects of a program.
A reputable Child Sleep Consultant will never try to push you in one direction or the other. They should be trained on all of the sleep training methods, and it is their job to find a method that matches the needs of each individual family.
When doing your research, decide if you and your child need basic information (written for the masses) because the sleep situation in your home is not desperate, but as a Mom you want to make sure it is where it should be. Or, if you need someone that will provide unlimited support throughout the two weeks for a variety of reasons including a desperate sleep situation, no outside support or help, the ability to hold you accountable to make sure that you follow through with the program.
Be wary of anyone that tells you that they can “sleep train” a newborn (any child younger than 16 weeks of age, adjusted if necessary). A newborn cannot be “sleep trained.” I have been in many situations where a family comes to me in a desperate state because they hired someone that was trying to sleep train their 8 week old baby and now their child is 4 months old and things are a complete mess. That being said, there are many things a Child Sleep Consultant can teach you and work with you on during the newborn phase, but nothing is strict and we cannot officially “sleep train.”
The best piece of advice I can give surrounding this topic is…. Whether you choose to work with a Child Sleep Consultant, or venture though sleep training on your own, make sure you have a thorough and solid sleep plan in place. Also, make sure that everyone in the family has agreed upon the details, have committed to following it, and are comfortable implementing it consistently.
Here at Big Sky Lullaby we know that not every child (or family) is the same, which is why we provide a range of sleep training packages to fit your specific needs. We tailor our services to the comfort level of the parents by providing gentle sleep options, so just sleep training (or “sleep changing” as we like to call it) is a positive experience for all involved. We are based in Richmond, VA, but we work with families across the US virtually, via email, phone, Skype/FaceTime, or I can travel to your home to provide you with the amount of support and guidance that you are most comfortable with.
All of my sleep training packages are designed to ensure success. My promise to you is that I will work with your family until we reach the goals set for your child. Our methods are 100% effective!