Today we are featuring Maya Garbuz, MSSW, CISW, Certified Adult, Maternity and Child Sleep Consultant of Madison Sleep Consultant.
Before becoming a consultant, she struggled from her son’s horrible sleeping habits. When he was 18 months old, he would wake up to eat at least twice a night and that’s when she and her husband decided that something drastic needed to be done. Maya researched all the sleep training methods she could find and tried a few different things with him until something worked. It was an unbelievably good feeling when he started sleeping through the night. She and her husband were finally able to get a full-night’s rest. Above all she was so proud of herself for staying strong through the training, for not giving in to all the people who said that “crying-it-out” was the only way to train a baby to sleep. At that time she was working with families that have children with disabilities and she realized how many parents struggled the same way her family did and started reaching out to them and trying to help. Eventually, she decided to apply to be a certified sleep consultant, so that she could confidently offer her help to anyone who needs it.
As a sleep consultant Maya provides sleep consultations to families with young children that are having challenges with sleep, such as not being able to fall asleep independently, sleep through the night, wake up really early in the morning, etc. She believes that every family is unique, so her approach to teaching healthy sleep habits is very individualized: She helps families set their goals and decide on the methods they want to use, so that everyone feels comfortable about the approach they use to teach their children healthy sleep habits.
A big part of her practice is work with children with developmental disabilities, such as Autism and ADD/ADHD. There is such a great number of children with disabilities that struggle with sleep all their lives! She finds it very fulfilling working with these children and helping their parents resolve sleep issues. It is very exciting to see all the improvements children make in their development, mood and health once they start sleeping.
Her greatest achievement/satisfaction in this line of work is for her to be able to help families with something as crucially important as sleep. Having parents no longer dread bedtime is a great achievement every time.
For Maya, one of the biggest mistakes parents often make is never teaching their children to self-soothe. “They feed, rock and walk their babies never allowing them to learn how to soothe themselves. It is really hard to blame them: what could be more pleasant than holding our babies, smelling their wonderful smell and talking quietly to them as they fall asleep in our arms... But there comes a point in every child’s life when they cannot fall asleep anymore while being fed or rocked, but by this time that is the only thing they know and they are left without any devices to soothe themselves. So parents have to come up with new ways to soothe their children and this is not an easy task!” For these parents Maya would recommend teaching their baby to self-soothe in a way they would find comfortable.
Maya confides that quite frequently she hears parents complain that even though their baby is sleeping now, they no longer seem able to get a good night’s sleep. That is why, this year she concentrated on getting certified to work with adults, so now she can actually help the whole family. She plans to create a consultation package that will allow families to hire her as a consultant for every member of the family. She believes that families could achieve more success when their sleep plan applies to the whole family instead of having different strategies for different family members that may not fit each other well.
Maya added that she is also certified as an infant massage instructor. She teaches infant massage to parents in groups and individually. It is a great way to help a colicky baby to relax, a premature baby to bond with her parents, a sensitive baby to get used to being touched, and a overly alert baby to fall asleep.
Infant massage is the only service she offers that cannot be provided over the phone or Skype. All her other services can easily be provided to families all over the country (or even internationally). With infant massage she has to live close enough to be able to visit the family’s home. As much as she enjoys all types of services, nothing can replace the connection that gets established between the client and consultant when working face to face.
To end the article, Maya graciously parted with these tips:
“There are so many different sleep challenges families face: weaning from night feedings, teaching to selfsoothe, helping kids sleep later in the morning, figuring out why a child has night terrors, etc. All of these challenges require a different approach. However, there are things that any parent can do to try and instill healthy sleep habits. One of these things is to do a calming bed time routine every night. Whether it is singing songs while cuddling with the baby, massage, or reading books, it is important to have a consistent routine that a child will recognize as a cue for getting ready for bed.
Another important thing to do is to turn down the light and turn off all electronics about an hour before bed, so that the child’s brain can start producing melatonin, the hormone we all need to sleep. Another great way to ensure a good night’s sleep is to take a child outside in the morning, as morning light exposure leads to more melatonin being produced at night, which leads to deeper and healthier sleep.
All the same tips work for adults: turning that favorite show off about 30 minutes before you go to bed, dimming the lights and having a consistent bed time routine will help you unwind and give time to your brain to get ready for sleep. Some of the great ways to relax before bed are taking bath or a shower, reading a book (not on an electronic device), and listening to relaxing music.”