If you’re shopping online for personalized sleep training support, you’re probably looking for this: an expert guide, for the best value, and sustainable results. In other words, you want the very best service, at a price point that works for your family, and most importantly, that the return on your investment is a sleeping baby and rested parents. Not just this month, but years down the road. With thousands of baby sleep consultants, experts and coaches available, how do you know that your investment in professional sleep training support is actually with an experienced professional?
A little background first:
In 2004 when I started the Mommywise blog, sleep training guidance was limited to a few badly written books by mostly male pediatricians. Now, if you Google “baby sleep consultant,” thousands of hits and ads appear. The good news? There’s a baby sleep service for every budget. The bad news? The overwhelming majority are inexperienced, “certified” by companies who sell thousands of business-in-a-box licensing packages each year. One such training company is cleverly disguised as an “Industry Association.” More on that later.
Lately, an even darker trend: Fake reviews, purchased by clever marketers. Or – dozens of reviews by family and friends all posted in the same few weeks. I know many of these services didn’t exist 1-2 years ago, but how would you as a sleep deprived consumer know?
The Top 5 Red Flags:
1. FALSE REVIEWS.
Whether purchased or written by supportive friends and family, this is the biggest red flag in my book. Get your microscope out before you submit payment.
How to Spot Fake Reviews? Look at Google and Yelp. If Google has 50 5-star reviews and Yelp has one 2-star review, well there’s your answer. If both are equal, then sort the reviews by date, and scroll to the first reviews. Note when the first reviews were posted and if they all appeared in the same month last year. If a sleep training service business is less than 3 years old, they can’t have 50 authentic 5-star reviews on one platform. They were either solicited, purchased or acquired.
True story: An NYC sleep training service provider launched a website less than a year ago. The company already has 50 5-star Google reviews! Prices are so cheap! Too good to be true? Click over to Yelp, see the one 2-star review. Then sort the Google reviews and you’ll see. Most were posted at the same time less than a year ago, and the reviewers’ names all have a similar cultural thread. Friends and family? I’d bet my firstborn on it.
2. NO ONLINE REVIEWS.
That’s a big glaring red flag, especially if that business has existed for many years. No further commentary needed.
Is that always a red flag? It absolutely can be. One of the most popular online sleep training companies has no online reviews. Almost all of our clients buy their packages before they reach out to us because they’re so well branded, on a beautiful website, with strong press features, and so many glowing testimonials! But here’s the thing. Testimonials are written by marketers. Press can be bought by PR companies. Authentic reviews are written online by you, the consumer. If there’s nowhere to post authentic reviews online for that service? Big red flag.
Example: One NYC sleep training service which has been around for years (you can confirm when a URL was registered in the WHOIS directory) offers something for everyone – books for purchase, hourly phone consults, a la carte packages, overnight stays. But, if you compare the numbers of years this company has been online vs the number of online reviews, something doesn’t add up. The last time I looked, they didn’t have any reviews, but today I see there are 9 five-star reviews on Google! The time stamp? All 9 were posted exactly one year ago.
3. STANDARD ISSUE BRANDING.
Back to the sleep training companies who sell licensing packages and trainings. I don’t even know how many thousands of Certified ____ Sleep Coaches there are now, but thousands of new ones appear each year. Each licensee is permitted to use the “Certified XYX” brand stamp, as long as they keep up with annual licensing fees and trainings. Do they actually sleep train babies in their trainings? Nope. How can you learn without observing a human baby?
How to verify months or years of first-hand experience? First, Google the Founder’s name. Check out social profiles including LinkedIn. Did the founder own a pole dancing studio 3 years ago? Claim 20 years in business a Pediatric Sleep Expert but is actually only 36 years old and has no kids? (This is a true story, BTW. This NYC service has had 3 business names in 3 years. The founder who has recently changed her name once offered to pay us for referrals.
4. MONEY BACK GUARANTEE!
Maybe a money-back guarantee is important to you, but to me it’s a red flag. If a sleep training expert feels the need to use that marketing stamp to win business, well then how committed are they going to be to your success?
5. FREE 15-MINUTE CALL!
Again, this might look appealing to a consumer, but I see red. First, this is what standard-issued licensees are taught to do as part of the sleep coaching business packages. That model isn’t authentically designed for a service provider to connect with the humans beings on the other end of the line. To really connect and hear what’s going on with you and your baby, get clear on any physiological or health obstacles, to understand what you want and assess the full landscape. Can anyone do that in 15 minutes? It sounds more like a sales pitch.
Example: I personally speak with each potential Mommywise client for a minimum of 30 minutes, sometimes 60+ minutes before I even know if I’m 100% confident that we can help. I won’t even offer our services unless I’m 100% confident that everyone’s on the same page, and that we can deliver sustainable results. There’s no way I could learn enough about you and give you an honest assessment in 15 minutes. I mean, if we’re going to spend a month together starting with 72 hours in your home, I want to get to know you before we take any next steps! Right?
Ready to Sleep Again? Let’s talk.
Hi, I’m Natalie, founder of Mommywise. I’m a Brooklyn mom of two (now) teenagers, PPD survivor, still humbled by the early years of parenting. I started this blog in 2004 as a way to help other parents who felt as dark and lonely as I felt to feel less shame, normalize the feelings of not loving parenthood, and raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders. I’m passionately committed to helping new parents feel more joy, offering sustainable employment for women and mothers, and contributing to positive change in the world.