The Sleep Lady Shuffle Myth Buster: Setting the Record Straight on Gentle Sleep Coaching
The Sleep Lady Shuffle is a gentle and compassionate sleep coaching technique designed by me, Kim West, close to 30 years ago. I wanted parents to have a choice in sleep coaching so it didn’t have to be cry it out or suffer for months or even years. As a family therapist it was essential to me to create an approach that supported a parent and child’s secure attachment and was based on the child’s developmental appropriateness and temperament. For more than 25 years it’s been a trusted sleep coaching solution for families all around the world, and it has taken on a host of names including The Shuffle, SLS, and The Chair Method.
Unfortunately, despite all my efforts, The Sleep Lady Shuffle has been incorrectly portrayed online and through various programs training sleep consultants, and there are some misinterpretations around my technique that should be clarified.
¿What’s the difference between The Sleep Lady Shuffle and The Chair Method?
In recent years as the sleep coaching “industry” has grown I have learned that “The Chair Method” means placing a chair next to your child’s bed or crib and not responding to their distress at all… no eye contact, no verbal reassurance, no pick up… nothing. Almost like a parent is recreating the Still Face Experiment. This psychological research was developed in 1975 to study early parent-child interactions and the impact of disrupted communication on infants. In the experiment, a mother and her baby would interact normally, but suddenly she would adopt a still, unresponsive face, maintaining a neutral expression and not reacting to her baby’s attempts to get her attention. This lack of response would create severe distress for the child, and it couldn’t be further from The Shuffle I’ve taught and practiced with parents worldwide.
The Sleep Lady Shuffle involves placing a chair next to your child’s crib or bed and recommends –if not encourages– physical and verbal reassurance, so shushing, patting, humming, and picking up to calm your little one are all “recommended” or “allowed” in this gentle and responsive approach to sleep coaching. Of course, like any sleep method, The Sleep Lady Shuffle may not work for everyone (although I have found it successfully with all my clients when done correctly). However, it’s very important for me to ensure the right information is being shared with parents. I hate to think of children crying needlessly and not being responded to or reassured!
As a result of the misinformation circulating, I am on a mission to debunk common misconceptions about sleep coaching and The Sleep Lady Shuffle. I am committed to doing what I can to deliver accurate information and empower parents to make well-informed decisions and get the whole family back to sleep… without leaving them to cry it out alone or unattended. Please help me spread this word!!