Late at night, the baby is screaming again. The exhausted mother gets up, rocks, feeds and sings him to sleep and sneaks away. But she knows the “bomb” will explode at some point soon.
Liu Dan is very familiar with this scenario. The new mom has only slept three or four hours every night since her son was born. During the day, she works at a broadcasting station in Hangzhou City.
A well-known supplement in China advertises that it can help people “sleep like a baby,” but Liu scoffs at the tagline.
“I'm sure the designer is not a parent,” said Liu. “The words should be changed to 'sleep like a baby's father.'”
“Getting a child to sleep can be one of the most difficult tasks of parenting. I'm on the brink of collapse,” the sleep-deprived mother complained.
Liu's sleep struggles are shared by many frustrated moms. An industry white paper on Chinese infant sleep released in December showed that more than 75 percent of parents complain about frequent night waking by their babies, especially those aged six months to one year.
Why are they not sleeping well? It could be hunger, teething, noise or illness. But only 6 percent of parents know the reason for their babies' nocturnal fussing, the paper said.
Older generations in China traditionally attributed infant sleep trouble to a calcium deficiency or considered it part of normal infant behavior.
Frustrated and exhausted, Liu turned to a baby sleep consultant for an answer. After paying 298 yuan (around 43 U.S. dollars) for an online lecture, she got her baby to sleep throughout the night for the first time after two weeks.
HUSH LITTLE BABY
The online lecture was provided by Chen Yuwen, former GE project manager and now a baby sleep consultant.
As the first baby sleep consultant certified by the International Maternity and Parenting Institute (IMPI) in the Chinese mainland, Chen has dealt with tens of thousands of sleep-deprived moms at their wits' end.
In the last month alone, Chen has sold nearly 1,400 online lectures to Chinese parents struggling to get their little ones to bed. Through the lectures, she teaches parents how to improve a baby's sleep environment, tips for soothing little ones, and other useful tricks.
Baby sleep consulting is a growing field in China.