THE UK’s first male sleep consultant, labelled a “miracle worker” by worn-out parents, guarantees he can get even the grouchiest baby to sleep through the night in just two weeks. Known as ‘The Daddy Sleep Consultant’, father-of-two Chris McFadden says his unique bedtime approach, based on studying the whole family’s routine and the baby’s personality, promises peaceful nights in record time. Chris, 36, of Sevenoaks, Kent, trained as a “baby whisperer” when his eldest son Teddy, now two, was a nightmare to get to sleep.
“Everyone makes the joke: ‘welcome to the no sleep club’, but you don’t realise how impactful it is until you are in it,” explained the slumber expert, who also has a younger son, Rafferty, five months. “Since becoming a dad myself I have realised just how important sleep is. When my eldest son had sleep problems I became so passionate about learning more about the causes and solutions which led me to completing my training. As dramatic as it sounds the whole family getting sleep is literally life-changing.”
Adapting Chris’ approach to bedtime – which involves utilising the science of baby sleep cycles, as well as looking at a baby’s personality and a family’s lifestyle – bleary-eyed mums and dads finally have bedtime cracked. Explaining his approach, based on designing a bespoke training plan tailored to each child, the sleep expert says he shuns the “cry it out” method, preferring a much more gentle strategy. Chris, who’s married to Dani, 35, said: “I have seen so many sleep consultants throwing out the same plan to all of their clients, but I think I really appreciate how different babies and their families are.
“Often families come to me when they have tried everything themselves but it just hasn’t worked. I haven’t taken on a client yet that I haven’t been able to help and I think that’s down to the bespoke nature of my programmes and the fact I also offer daily check-ins to ensure the strategy we are using is working. You can see improvements in a matter of days and full results within two weeks.”
Amongst ‘The Daddy Sleep Consultant’s’ clients is an NHS midwife who was crippled with exhaustion and post natal depression when her baby was often waking every two hours to breastfeed at the age of 10 months. Three days after meeting Chris, the baby was sleeping through the night.
It was when Emma Jewell, 31, from Southampton, spotted an advert for a free sleep package worth £245, that Chris was offering as part of ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ last month, that she got in touch.
“I read this post after having a particularly awful night with Holly, and it was around 5am, and I had slept for roughly two hours. “The thought of facing the day looking after Holly and Ella (aged three), and actually being able to play with them both and be my version of what a good mum is, felt literally impossible. So I messaged Chris straight away. I couldn’t believe it when he chose me.” Often surviving on just two hours’ sleep per night, Emma said she was suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, and can “now understand why this is used as a form of torture”.
Chris asked Emma and husband Tony, 32, for a four-day log of Holly’s routine – including feeding times, personality and activities, sleeping patterns, and waking times.Within just three days of implementing Chris’ techniques, her daughter was sleeping through the night. Emma, who’s due to return to work after maternity leave on New Year’s Eve, says he’s “saved her life”. “From the third night of the programme Holly slept through. I messaged Chris and said this must be a fluke and he said ‘no flukes’. Holly has been continually sleeping through and her daytime naps are improving now too. To say that this has changed our life as a family and improved my mental health is beyond an understatement. I have the energy to play with my children, my moods are so much brighter and I am not constantly snapping at everyone including my poor husband.”
As the only male in a female-dominated profession, Chris says that parents often think he’ll adapt harsh sleeping techniques to get baby’s into the land of nod. He said: “I don’t want to impose on an industry where women are so successful. I’m hoping to offer something a little different to complement that. Being the only man in the UK doing this is daunting but exciting. I often wonder if parents think that because I’m a man I might use less gentle strategies such as the infamous ‘crying it out’ but it’s actually the opposite, and I am aligned to a very gentle approach.”
Chris often gets asked by the parents of nocturnal older children if they’ve “left it too late”, but he says his techniques generally work on children up to the age of five. “Generally with older kids the challenges have come from long-lasting habits which are yet to be broken. A big driver of sleep-related issues is lack of self-comfort; any child must be able to soothe themselves from within to get them off to sleep.
The Daddy Sleep Consultant’s top five tips…
1. Put your baby down content, but awake. This gives your little one the opportunity to settle themselves to sleep which is critical to them sleeping longer and better at night.
2. A dark room is critical to a child’s sleep. Helping your little one differentiate between sleep and awake time is one of the first steps to a sleeping child. Sometimes it’s a simple case of putting up blackout blinds to help children sleep longer.
3. Routine is so important for your child in more ways than just sleep. A regular and predictable day and night routine makes your little ones feel safe, secure and can help them thrive. It also allows them to feed off these routine triggers, for example bath comes before bed.
4. Focus on day naps. Don’t think that a baby that hasn’t slept during the day will sleep longer at night. The age old phrase ‘sleep breeds sleep’ is true. Babies who have had the right amount of sleep and stimulation in the day will sleep better at night. Sleep-deprived babies often fight sleep and can be more upset and clingy at bedtime.
5. A full baby is a content baby. One thing I always recommend to my clients is to try and make the last feed of the day the biggest. This can sometimes be challenging as your baby becomes more tired but one approach I love to tell my clients is to feed your baby before AND after their bedtime bath.
The Daddy Sleep Consultant’ offers a variety of ‘lockdown special’ virtual packages, costing between £100 and £245 – ranging from a guide for expecting and new parents, to a personal analysis and review of a child’s sleeping log, a bespoke sleep program and unlimited email and phone support.
I’m a baby and toddler sleep consultant specialising in designing gentle sleep training programmes for babies and toddlers. I work with clients on a one to one basis and I also have a series of age-specific online courses for you to implement at your own pace.