Q&A with Sarah Ong, the Baby Sleep Expert
If you have a baby who has trouble sleeping, or know someone who does, look no further than the baby sleep expert: Sarah Ong.
A Business Administration (majoring in Marketing) graduate of Old Dominion University, Virginia in the States; a mother to gorgeous three daughters; and the first certified child sleep coach in Malaysia, Sarah Ong has an array of parenting-related certifications and years of experience under her belt. We asked her some questions on her career, her journey, and her approach to parenting and sleep.
As a baby sleep expert, you work with parents whose children have trouble sleeping. Tell us more about what you do, what your approach is, and how it has helped both parents and children.
S: I work primarily with moms who are struggling with getting proper sleep for their baby to give them the solution they need to get their baby to sleep better. I'm known in the industry to use gentle and nurturing approach to help foster good sleep habits, without leaving their baby to cry alone to sleep.
This approach is helpful for moms to gain the confidence to change their baby's poor sleep habits knowing that they can be with their baby every step of the way. When moms feel confident, their baby absorbs this energy and they feel safe and secure.
You graduated from the States with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and majored in Marketing, and you are also certified for several parenting-related courses.
How did you go into the field that you’re in now? And has your time at university influence your career now? If so, how?
S: In 2011, I delivered by second baby. She was a horrible sleeper. It got so bad that I needed professional help to undo the sleep issues. That experience was such an eye opener for me, that I decided to take it upon myself to learn more about baby sleep and get certified to support other moms who are in the same shoes. I took on several parenting-related courses because I am intrigued to learn new ways to help babies sleep other than the traditional cry it out approach.
My time at university was influential to my career before being a sleep consultant (I was in advertising and media industry doing client servicing). After having my second baby, I wanted a career that could give me the flexibility of working from home, and sleep consulting was the perfect one for me.
Your consultations are based on the individual circumstances and experiences of the baby and the family, after which you give out customised sleeping plans for each baby. There has been great success for parents following your approach.
How did you develop your approach, and how has your approach evolved from when you first delved into this field? Any mentors or inspiration?
S: My approach is holistic in a sense where I consider daytime activities, nutrition, sleep science and age-appropriate sleep expectations to apply to a unique family dynamics and circumstances.
I also base my approach on parenting by connection and Aware Parenting philosophy where we understand the baby's emotions first, how to respond to our baby's crying, and use non-punitive discipline for older children. It's a form of attachment-style parenting, but not to be confused with Attachment Parenting philosophy by Dr Sears.
This approach evolved from my own personal experience, struggling to understand my second child when she was 2 years old. I mentored with Patty Wipfler and Marion Rose to further understand this parenting philosophy. They have been great influencers and inspiration to my parenting style.
It’s so wonderful that you believe in every family having their own unique definition and method of an ideal sleep, as there truly is no one-size-fits-all approach to sleep.
When it comes to baby plans, how much troubleshooting does it take - on your end and that of the parents’?
S: In general, the sleep approach is the same for most babies. Troubleshooting happens when there are some background history to consider: stress and birth trauma, house move, country move, recovering from an illness, hospitalization etc.
How often do you encounter unique cases, if at all? What was the most challenging part and how do you tackle such instances?
S: I'd say I see unique cases 4/10 families I work with. The most challenging one that comes to mind is to work on baby's separation trauma at birth because mom was unconscious for a few days due to blood loss. The baby wanted to recreate this "bond at birth" before she could relax and trust the world in order to sleep better.
We worked on listening to her baby's crying, (in my work using crying to heal from trauma is a very powerful thing that our babies are naturally born with) and focused on that first, whilst getting her baby to be on a sleep rhythm during the day. When her baby had overcome her sadness about the separation, she started sleeping better.
Sleep is such an important, often underestimated, aspect of one's wellbeing and quality of life, and it's clear how passionate you are about helping babies and families.
What are your other passions and interests? What are your future plans in this line of career and otherwise?
S: Other than sleep (yes I'm super obsessed about it haha), parenting, marketing as an entrepreneur, essential oils and fitness are among my top passionate subjects and interests. In future, I dream to teach and support moms who want to pursue their big dreams and not feel like they have to sacrifice their family in pursuit of that.
Learn more about what Sarah does on www.sarahong.co.
To see more on baby sleep, parenting tips, and behind the scenes, follow her Instagram @sarahong.co.