What Is The Sleep Lady Shuffle?

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  • June 03, 2014

If you’re new here, you’ve likely never heard of “The Shuffle”, or even my sleep coaching methods. Likely, you’ve tried other methods, found them to be frustrating, heartbreaking, or figured out that they simply don’t work for your family. So you probably started searching Google or Facebook and came across me, The Sleep Lady.

Many parents think of sleep coaching and automatically draw images of screaming babies and children in a room alone while the parent hides and pretends that the crying isn’t killing them. That is just not my style. As a mom, I absolutely could not let my babies cry hysterically. It’s not fair to the child, and it’s certainly not fair to the parent.

A Bit About Crying

Understand that some fussing is normal during a period of change or challenge-which is exactly what will happen when you begin to sleep coach your child. Mild fussing (whimpering, grunting, frustrated cries) is normal while your baby learns a new skill. Full on hysterical crying is not normal.

From Good Night, Sleep Tight: “When a young baby or toddler is crying, he is telling you that he wants or needs something. And that’s all his brain can concentrate on at that moment. When you calm him by helping him meet that need, his brain can focus on other things. But if you don’t respond to that need, if you repeatedly ignore the cries, it can lead to overstimulation and lay the groundwork for later difficulties.”

The Shuffle

And that better way led me to create “The Shuffle,” which is a gentle, effective, and proven method to teach your baby to sleep. The best part? It works for children 6 months to 6 years, and can be tailored to meet your family’s unique circumstances. Many people assume that if they co-sleep or roomshare, or breastfeed that they can’t sleep coach. That is simply not true! Regardless of your sleeping arrangements, you can teach your child to sleep-even if you share a room.

The Shuffle is my proven gentle, effective method that will help you teach your child how to fall asleep on his own in a secure environment. This is not shutting the door or leaving your baby in the crib to cry.

Baby Steps

parent-child bondBy the time your baby is ready for The Shuffle, chances are that you’re tired of getting up multiple times each night and dealing with 2, 3, or even 4 naps every day. Likely, you don’t have the energy to follow a complicated routine, nor do you have the desire to listen to your baby cry. Most parents turn to sleep coaching because THEY need sleep, as well as their baby, which is what led me to create my sleep coaching method in the first place. Parents need choices when it comes to sleep coaching, I know I did! I created The Shuffle to help give families a choice that wasn’t cry-it-out or timed checks. I wanted to provide a sleep coaching method that parents could follow through with consistency.

The first 6 months of parenting is a challenge. A fun challenge, yes, but it’s definitely a test of your mettle. I understand that by the time you’ve been up and down every night for 6 months, you probably just want it to stop. With The Shuffle, I help you take incremental steps to teach your baby to fall asleep without your help. This is an important life skill, and one that your baby cannot learn without your help.

The Shuffle will teach you how to gently and effectively teach your baby that she doesn’t need to be rocked to drift off to dreamland, nor does she need to be bounced, fed, or sung to. All of these are fine while she was an infant, but once she’s developed the ability to self soothe, you can gently and effectively transition her away from these habits.

When Trouble Arises

Most families see a positive change in their baby’s (or toddler’s) sleep habits within 7 to 10 days. That’s less than two weeks. Now, I said most for a reason. I find that families who don’t see results in the first few weeks generally need to reexamine how they’re doing The Shuffle. Usually it’s either that mom or dad has created a new sleep crutch in place of the patting, feeding, or rocking to sleep; or there’s a lack of consistency in response to their child’s awakenings; or there is an underlying medical problem that is contributing to their child’s sleep problem.

If parents find themselves in this situation, it’s an easy fix, but you may have to backtrack a few days in your Shuffle to make sure that your child is truly learning the skill of putting herself to sleep.

Life Happens

Travel, illness, teething, vacations…these are all things that happen to the best of us. If you’re lucky, you’ve planned your travel and vacations, so you can plan ahead and make arrangements for your baby to have an routine as close to the one at home as possible (remember, it’s all about consistency). If you find yourself bogged down with an illness or 4 teeth, it’s a bit of a different story.

Our children need extra attention when they aren’t feeling well or have a change of location, and with The Shuffle, you can easily take care of those extra night wakings that come with temporary changes. If you get “off track” it’s easy to return to your sleep coaching roots and backtrack your Shuffle so that your little one remembers that “Oh yes! I know how to do this!”

When all is said and done, I wasn’t happy with the sleep coaching options out there. When I created the Shuffle, the only option was Ferber! I knew that there had to be a better way, and I know that my method works, 95% of the time. As long as you are consistent in your sleep coaching, your child will learn how to fall asleep without the rocking, patting, feeding, or other crutches that you’ve been using. And then your whole family can finally get some much needed sleep.




Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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