Sleep Training Certifications Exposed: What You Should Know


One particularly bad night up with my baby boy, I began researching hiring a sleep consultant. Then, I wondered what licenses and certifications a sleep trainer would be required to have.

So what certifications are sleep trainers required to have? Sleep training is categorized as private coaching, thus there are no national or state-recognized courses, licenses, or certifications within the United States. Private businesses offer optional certifications that have neither official oversight nor accreditation but are actively improving and promoting the field.

So what should you know before you hire or become a sleep trainer? Keep reading and let’s talk about that.

Sleep Consultants and Trainers Lack Unbiased Accreditation and Oversight

After extensive research, I’ve found that within the United States, there is no neutral or government-recognized branch or unbiased organization that oversees sleep training. There is no accreditation process. All of the certifications are optional.

In other words, anyone can say they’re a sleep trainer. And anyone can say that they are sleep consultant coaches. In fact, there are several private businesses that exist solely to train sleep trainers and sell certifications.

What that means is this: there is no official channel for sleep trainers to stay current on best practices or evidence-based research.

It’s all on the sleep trainers to make sure that they’re offering you the best practices, advice, and guidelines to sleep train your child.

In fact, several of the more prominent sleep training programs tout their that they’re approved by and connected to actual organizations by posting logos on their About Us pages.

However, most of these are less impressive once you start researching them. Let’s go through them now and save you the headache and time.

ClaimReality
Registered Nurse, Licensed by the Department of Health (for any state)Any licensed registered nurse can say that they’re licensed by their state’s health department because it’s the state (and by extension the health department) who issue their licensure.
Example: I’m a registered nurse, licensed by the State of Utah.
Approved Training Provider: International Institute for Complementary TherapistsThe IICT promotes a paid membership that includes 1300+ types of natural therapy and requires no continued professional development. Anyone can join if they pay the fee.
International Association of Child Sleep Consultants – Regional RepresentativeIACSC is a nonprofit educational organization. It has more rigid requirements and holds regular continuing education courses where they tap into healthcare professionals for evidence-based updates. Healthcare professionals can join as associate members with no additional training. Full members require additional training by organization-recognized consultants. Membership starts at $125.
Example: I could join today for no extra work.
Professional Member: National Sleep FoundationThe National Sleep Foundation is an organization that promotes sleep. They focus on sleep in military and veterans, students, older adults in long-term care, and non-commercial drivers. In other words, they focus on adults.
Association of Professional Sleep ConsultantsAPSC is an organization that focuses on sleep for all ages. Anyone can join after completing an approved program or after working as a sleep consultant for at least 500 hours. The application fee costs $50 and yearly membership costs $100.
Example: I could join today after having blogged extensively on this subject.
Certified Sleep Science CoachThe Association for Entrepreneurial Trainers and Coaches offers a sleep training course for only $197. Or, combine it with a certified stress management course for only $275! Anyone could take this course today.

Again, there are zero official ties to an unbiased regulatory board that passes or enforces regulations. Even the nonprofit educational organization isn’t free of bias.

So if I wanted to become a self-proclaimed sleep trainer or coach today? I could. And there are several professional organizations I could very easily join – without any extra work as long as I pay the fees.

Furthermore, there is no accreditation board. Nobody runs audits on these companies (or organizations) to ensure that best practices are being used or that additional research is being done.

Now, while there is no government-recognized organization to accredit sleep training programs, it seems that the sleep training industry is trying to regulate itself. So that’s promising.

And the fact that various organizations are popping up to start self-regulating the field is definitely a move in the right direction. However, trying to pass that off as official or government-sanctioned licensure and certification are worrisome.

It’s easy to see how people would misinterpret those casual relationships to non-government organizations and institutes (that are businesses) as if it were a government or healthcare provider type of approval. Because that’s what these businesses are trying to imply via their marketing: that they’re approved.

So as you look for a sleep consultant, just remember: there is no officially government-sanctioned channel or process for vetting sleep consultants.

There are, however, a handful of businesses and organizations that are trying to regulate things. Even so, without a transparent process, there’s still too much room for interpretation. Because at this point, anyone can claim to be a sleep consultant or a baby sleep expert.

Follow-up: I didn’t hire a sleep consultant. I tapped into my knowledge as a pediatric emergency department nurse, read a ton of books, and blogged about my struggles with sleep training instead. Now I’m sharing what I’ve learned (and am still learning!) right here.

One final note: sleep trainers in other countries may be licensed or credentialed through official or government channels. For example, in the United Kingdom, I believe sleep trainers may need to be approved by the National Health Service (NHS). I’m not an expert on the NHS, though, as I live in the USA.

What Is A Pediatric Sleep Consultant? And When Would You Hire One?

So if there is no government-regulated, official certification for a pediatric sleep consultant, what are they?

A pediatric sleep consultant is a private coach. They are someone (who may or may not have any specialized or dedicated training in the healthcare field) who consults with sleep-deprived families to help them get their child to sleep better. The best sleep consultants have seen great success in coaching famlilies through sleep training.

For the time being, anyone can say that they are a pediatric sleep consultant or sleep trainer.

Even so, the various organizations that we talked about earlier are trying to implement standards. They’re sort of the precursor to the governing board. Hopefully, they’re able to evolve and be further associated with the various and associated government agencies that ought to be involved.

So if you don’t have a next-door neighbor who’s a pediatric ER nurse to ask about sleep training and you don’t want to use this free, comprehensive resource to guide you, then those certified pediatric sleep consultants might be the next best thing.

In other words, if you want someone to guide you through each step, then you may want to hire a certified pediatric sleep coach. Because their willingness to get a certification does speak to their dedication to the field. And many of them have a lot of valuable experience that can be used to help coach your family.

In my opinion, you would do much better to learn sustainable parenting and sleep training techniques and apply them yourself. If hiring a coach helps you do that, then that’s fantastic. Here are the ones I recommend.

How Much Does Hiring a Sleep Consultant Cost?

Sleep consultants, as an as-yet unregulated and unlicensed profession, set their own fees. There is no official standard pricing. The fees will depend on how much the sleep trainer is involved, how the support is offered, and the location.

Here are a few prices I’ve found and where I’ve found them. You’ll see that they’re all over the place. And each of the family sleep institute and gentle sleep coach graduates each had their own websites – and only a few of those listed any prices.

SourceBudget OptionBasic ConsultationIntermediate (Phone + Email) ConsultationIn-Home Consultation
Baby Sleep Site$99+$199+$249+not listed
Family Sleep Institute Graduates$99+$125+$275+$267+
Gentle Sleep Coach Graduates$100+$100+not listed$100+
Taking Cara Babies$34+$249$319not listed
The Sleep Sense Program$29+$129+$250+$520+

One other unnamed source (via this article on the Wall Street Journal) gave the price of $7,500 for 72 hours of in-home coaching.

In other words, pricing is all over the place. Hiring a sleep consultant may cost as little as $100 for a quick phone consultation or much more for an in-home evaluation.

Tips to Become A Sleep Consultant

Finally, because sleep training is emerging as a field, let’s go over some tips to become a sleep consultant.

The first is this: if you don’t have an existing medical background, getting one of the business-led certifications may be a good idea for you. Many of them offer great basic information and valuable support, especially as you start a new career.

As long as you are actively learning – and keep trying to better understand the science behind everything, then you’re on the right track. Just keep reading everything you can – especially peer-reviewed studies on sleep training.

Here are the courses I’ve found, as well as basic information about them that would be important in your decision-making process.

SourceCourse CostCourse LocationNotesMembership Dues
Gentle Sleep Coach$5,995OnlineIncludes the first year of Advanced Program.$1,000/year
International Maternity & Parenting Institute$4,300OnlineRequires 2 courses to graduate, the price reflects both halves.None
Family Sleep Institute$4,200Online Live Lecture4 Months’ Coaching after graduation.$250/year
Institute of Pediatric Sleep & Parenting$2,700OnlineLifetime Updates Included.None
Baby Sleep Consultant Training$2,200OnlineOngoing Support & 6 Months’ Coaching.None
Certified Sleep Science Coach$197OnlineLearning units are more adult-oriented than child based.None
Newborn Care Specialist Association for Certification$250Online or In-PersonThis is an additional certification on top of an approved sleep training course. Must supply family testimonials to graduate.Recertification Required Every 2 Years

None of these fees includes membership to any of the currently available professional organizations. So if you want to join one of those, make sure you take that pricing (as listed earlier in this article) into consideration.

In any case, becoming a sleep consultant can be a great career. Just remember that it’s in an evolving field – that’s not yet regulated by any government agencies.

Related Questions

Is There a Free Online Sleep Training Course? While there is not currently a free sleep training course online, this website is a great resource for parents looking for free sleep training resources.

Where Can I Find Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultants? Optionally-certified sleep consultants can best be found via any of the various sleep training associations’ membership directories.

What Courses Are Required To Become a Sleep Trainer? Officially, no courses are required to become a sleep trainer. Optional certifications are offered by various private businesses.

Kimberly C. Starr, RN BSN

I’m a ginger-haired nurse (RN, BSN) who loves getting enough sleep to be a functional parent to my four wonderful kids - who are even more wonderful when they’ve gotten enough sleep, too. To read more about me, click here.

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