Conversations With… A Baby Sleep Specialist

Need help getting bubba to snooze soundly? Singapore’s very own baby sleep expert Zoe Chu is just a call away…

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It was only after Zoe Chu, 37, became a new mum that she realised the importance of good sleep. This was when she was surviving on very little rest while caring for her twin sons, Brayden and Dylan.

Realising that she was making many mistakes and robbing her babies of the rest they needed to grow and thrive, Chu says, “I would rock them to sleep, feed them to sleep, gave them a pacifier and used the yao lan [baby hammock/sarong] during the day for their naps, creating an inconsistent sleep environment.”

Reacting to the lack of sleep, her babies became extra cranky, weepy and were so wired up that they were unable to drop off even when exhausted. When they did, Brayden and Dylan would only nap for 30 minutes and wake up bawling.

Sleep deprived, exhausted and unable to concentrate on anything, Chu turned to every sleep book on the market. After spending many hours looking for a sleep solution on the Internet, she found her ideal sleep training system. She implemented it on her twins when they were 6 months old. The boys, now 11, have slept like a dream since then.

“With my third child, Callum, who is now 6, I started sleep training at four months. With my fourth child, Alyssa, who is now 14 months, I managed to foster healthy sleep habits from day one,” Chu says. “I didn’t introduce any sleep props for her ― I made sure she understood routine, so she knew what to expect. I saw first-hand how amazing it was to start them early rather than waiting for them to be a few months old.”

“Some parents call me when they’re so sleep deprived. Quite often, they’re also going through postnatal depression from the lack of sleep and can’t seem to enjoy parenthood.”

She eventually turned her passion for sleeping well into her profession. Since 2013, Chu has been helping Singaporean families sleep better, offering tailor-made sleep-training solutions for children up to the age of 6. This is one of the many parenting services she provides under SG Supernanny.

“Some parents call me when they’re so sleep deprived. Quite often, they’re also going through postnatal depression from the lack of sleep and can’t seem to enjoy parenthood,” says Chu. “So, it’s not just about teaching them how to implement my sleep programme, but I also have to counsel them and be sensitive to their raw emotions. I can totally relate to what they are going through because I had baby blues, too, when I was a first-time mum to my twins.”

Chu, who has a masters in commerce and management from Lincoln University in New Zealand, has also got a graduate certificate in counselling, so that she can help her clients on a more emotional level.

SmartParents speaks to the child sleep expert to learn more about her unusual vocation…

What are some misconceptions about your job?

Recently I went to a client’s home and her mum was also there. She told me her mum thought I was going to hypnotise her grandchild! Haha…it was really funny actually. To be honest, when I share my profession with others, they always look surprised. They don’t really know what a baby sleep expert actually does. Some think I will be the one putting their baby to sleep or help them look after their baby. I guess my company name SG Supernanny makes them think that I might be a nanny as well!

How do you approach every client?

Firstly, I will get them to complete a sleep form which will allow me to review their baby’s sleep situation. My sleep form consists of questions about the family and their baby’s sleep situation and their daily routine. I will look at a few factors, such as their baby’s sleep environment, whether they have a routine and how they get their baby to sleep. Then I would also look at my client’s parenting philosophy and try to customise my sleep plan according to their style. This is very important as it will determine if my clients will follow through with my sleep plan.