A More Gentle Way
Many parents ask “Are you a cry-it-out proponent or family bed advocate? Do I have to stop breastfeeding to sleep coach my child, do I have to choose between two camps: co-sleeping/no crying or crib/cry-it-out?”
You do not have to pick a camp; this is not about right or wrong. It is about what is working for you and your family.
It is true that the CIO method and the starker extinction methods can work well and a bit faster than gentler methods IF you as the parent can follow through consistently and for long enough.
The Gentle Sleep Coach philosophy was developed by Kim West LCSW-C, The Sleep Lady® because she found so many parents had difficulty following through with a sleep coaching program they feared would damage their child emotionally or filled them with so much guilt they couldn’t follow through.
The GSC approach is a more gentle alternative for families who emotionally or philosophically resist letting their babies cry it out: for families who tried “Ferber” (controlled crying) and it didn’t work, and for families who let their baby cry-it-out earlier but now find it doesn’t help. It is also for families who believe in co-sleeping but find that their children are not really sleeping all that well, even nestled snugly with their parents. Or for families who did co-sleep for a few months to a few years and now want the family bed to revert to the marital one.
Can you guarantee “no crying” you might ask? No, no one really can. For example, if you as the parent have taught your child that the way to fall asleep is to be held to sleep for all naps, bedtime, and wakings, and you decide that you want to change this; your child will naturally protest or resist this change. After all, they do not know why you have changed your approach. If your child is pre-verbal then they will cry. My goal is to have as little crying as possible. I encourage parents to be loving and responsive but to allow the child the room to learn this vital life skill of putting themselves to sleep. The parent responds and stays with their child and offers physical and verbal reassurance without putting the child to sleep. This supports the development of a secure attachment between parent and child.
I will work with you to create an individualized, step-by-step sleep plan that will factor in your parenting philosophy, your child’s age, health and temperament, mother’s well-being and the related family dynamics. And most importantly I will support and coach you through the process from beginning to end- for night sleep and naps!
What is Gentle Sleep Coaching?
Gentle Sleep Coaching is just like it sounds; sleep coaching in a gentle way. I was taught by one of the leading sleep coaches in the industry on how to work with families to achieve their goals with few tears. The Gentle Sleep Coach Program is the first and most extensive professional sleep coach training and certification program available. The program involves 80+ hours of training with a faculty panel that includes two medical doctors, a psychologist, an attorney, lactation counselor, postpartum doulas and a family therapist. Each coach must pass an exam and participate in case mentorship with Kim West, LCSW-C (a.k.a. “the Sleep Lady”) who has been helping tired parents for over 20 years. Clinical mentorship and ongoing advanced training are required to maintain certification as a Gentle Sleep Coach. Some of my training topics included:
- Basic counseling and child development
- Sleep science and behavioral modification techniques to help parents of children age 0 to 6 years old.
- Secure attachment theory
- Support for the breastfeeding mother
The training also consisted of lectures from top specialists, including:
- Postpartum Depression from Dr. Shoshana Bennett, author and leading specialist on Postpartum Depression
- Medical Conditions and Sleep Apnea in Children led by Dr. Lewis Kass, Director of Children’s Sleep Center
- GERD and Sleep led by Dr. Anthony Loizides, pediatric gastroenterologist
How is it different from other popular methods?
Gentle Sleep Coaching differs from other widespread methods because Gentle Sleep Coaching means you get to be present with your child, supporting them while they learn this new skill instead of leaving them alone to cry-it-out. Gentle Sleep Coaching uses The Sleep Lady Shuffle which is a gradual fading of parental presence at bed times, including naps! Putting one's self to sleep on their own is a learned skill; not something that children can easily figure out on their own. This is why we feel it is important for you to be there, coaching them and supporting them while they work to reach this important milestone.
How does this process work?
I offer parents a gentler approach to helping their children go to sleep and stay asleep, without leaving their child to cry it out. Although treatment is individualized, services generally include:
✓ reviewing child’s history
✓ direct consultations with parents
✓ development of plan of care
✓ follow-up care
✓ parental education, and much more!
We can begin with a FREE 15 minute discovery call where we can discuss how I can help you reach your family's goals. If you decide to move forward with coaching, a detailed history form will be provided and completed by you. This detailed history will allow us to start with coaching right away! We will discuss what good quality sleep looks like for your child's respective age, create a clear and easy to read sleep plan, and make arrangements for support along the way. There are multiple packages for you to select from depending on the amount of follow-up support you wish to have. Once we have completed coaching, and your child is sleeping through the night, we do a wrap-up call where I provide tips for ongoing success.
"When I was pregnant with my daughter, I did a lot of research about baby sleep. I thought I had it all figured out: no co-sleeping, safe sleep practices, and baby would sleep through the night no problem. All that went out the window when Hope arrived. We ended up co-sleeping for every nap and most of the nights - it was all about survival. I didn’t realize I had a bit of post-partum anxiety – frequent wakings were always like a ticking time bomb for me. At 6 months it became apparent that both Hope and I were not getting any quality sleep. She would wake every time I moved, and my sleep was so interrupted from her nursing on all night. Something needed to change.
Hope was 8 months old when we started working with Keri. The first thing I noticed about Keri was the reassuring and confident presence about her. She comes from an extensive background working with babies and children. I could tell she was so knowledgeable and eager to listen to help improve sleep for us. She spent time in getting to know our routine, what our preferences were, and what we were comfortable with to design a customized plan for us. We ended up staying in our one-bedroom condo – yes, sleep training is possible in the same room! As expected, the first night was a bit of a challenge as we broke some of the habits we had created, but each night there was improvement. Check ins were so informative, and Keri made sure to adjust our plan as needed. Keri is a wonderful cheerleader but was also super understanding and non-judgmental when we had a few hiccups along the way – she is so good with first time parents. Hope started sleeping through the night by the 3rd night and went down on her own for naps by the end of the week. I don’t have the words to explain how much this changed our life.
Our daughter wakes up so well-rested and is noticeably happier throughout the day. Sleep-training changed me as a mom as well. I feel like a better version of myself, because I’m not tired or anxious all the time. I used to be a little weary of sleep training because I thought it meant letting baby cry it out and feel abandoned, but Keri’s method for sleep training is gentle and interactive. We were able to soothe our daughter throughout the entire process. I am such an advocate now and would recommend it to any parent. It is so life changing to be able to put baby down awake for naps/bedtime and watch them put themselves to sleep in minutes. I still pinch myself sometimes. Working with Keri was one of the best decisions we’ve made for our family."