Many parents want to know what they have to do to get their child to sleep better. Most of the time, the response they get from medical professionals is to just let their child cry-it-out. And most of the time, parents do not want to do this or can't do this.
This is why Gentle Sleep Coaching exists.
As a world certified Gentle Sleep Coach, a common question I get is: “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 co-sleeping/no crying or crib/cry-it-out?”
These are not your only two options. This is not about right or wrong. It is about what is working and not 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. Or for those who were co-sleeping but find their children are not sleeping well anymore, even nestled snugly with their parents.
Can you guarantee “no crying” you might ask? No, no one really can. For example, if you as the parent have taught your child 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 with tears. After all, they do not know why you have changed your approach.
My goal is to have as little crying as possible since crying tends to be the hardest part for most parents to handle. 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, parents' 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
What does 0-5 Month Certification mean?
The GSC Program also includes an exclusive advanced training specifically focused on how to gently work with babies 0-5 months of age using the Baby-Led Sleep Shaping and Coaching.
This gentle approach aids families to first shape their baby's sleep and then when appropriate (and according to their baby's unique temperament) offer alternatives to the "cry it out" method for newborns, based on an infant's developmental readiness to self soothe.
Some of the curriculum training topics include:
How feeding, attachment, soothing, and temperament all factor into your infant's sleep
The key developmental milestones from birth through five months and how to encourage sleep at every stage.
Safe co-sleeping guidelines
Guidance on how to assess when the baby is ready for sleep coaching based on current research and evidence-based strategies
This specialty training is designed to give Gentle Sleep Coaches the knowledge, education and all the tools and resources they need to successfully work with families of newborns through 5 months of age in a safe, healthy and developmentally appropriate manner.
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 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 plan, and make arrangements for support along the way. Once we have completed coaching, and your goals around sleep have been reached, we do a wrap-up call where I provide tips for ongoing success.