Last updated on April 5th, 2024

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Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

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Would you like to have me answer your baby sleep coaching question in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!

If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s baby sleep coaching video:
Hi. Kim West, the Sleep Lady. Today I want to talk about all the various sleep coaching methods. I know that there are more sleep books since my book first came out in 2004. I hear parents say “I have to find the perfect sleep coaching method. Maybe this new book will have the magic trick.”

I want to give you a quick behavioral modification tip: when it comes to behavioral modification methods, there’s only so many ways to peel an apple as they say. I have broken them down to four main methods. Now, when you go into a book store and you’re looking at the different sleep coaching books or looking at e-books online, you can think about this and figure out which method the book falls into. From there you can figure out what method you can follow through with consistently, because that is the key to sleep coaching success.

On one end of the baby sleep coaching spectrum is extinction

Meaning, you put your baby in their bed awake (by the way everyone is going to tell you that), you leave and you don’t go in all night. That way, you can’t be inconsistent by going in and intervening which can create even more crying.
Extinction is true “cry-it-out” and lots of us can’t stomach that!

Next to that would be graduated extinction.

That basically means the parent goes into the child’s room to reassure them in timed intervals. For example, in Dr. Ferber’s book he recommends going into the room in 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes. In some countries they call this method “controlled crying”. In Good Night, Sleep Tight, I call it “timed checks”.

A lot of parents say to me, “What’s the magic number Kim for going in and checking on them? Whatever that is, that is what we are going to do whether its go in at 7 minutes, or 12 minutes or 14 minutes.” Unfortunately, there’s no magic number in the minutes. The minutes are there to control you, the parent. So pick the number of minutes that you feel comfortable with and follow through with it consistently.

Then in the middle road baby sleep coaching method (the one I like) is fading.

There are a couple of books that use fading like I do, for instance, The Baby Whisperer and No Cry Sleep Solution.
Fading in behavior science is when you slowly move away from something. So in this case, we’re intervening less and slowly moving away from your child’s bed as they learn to incorporate the skill of putting themselves to sleep.

One important part of fading is that you don’t stretch it out too long, because that can make it more difficult for your child. The more you stretch it out, the harder it can be on your child and the more difficult it will be to stay consistent which is essential in sleep coaching success.

On the other end of the baby sleep coaching method list is doing nothing, status quo, doing whatever works or “I’ll deal with it later” approach.

You may say, “Well, that’s not a method Kim.” Well, actually, deciding to do nothing or nothing different is still a decision so I’m considering that a method so to speak. If a family is happy, functioning well and they’re doing whatever works and they don’t want to do any sleep coaching, then I support them. Family first.

Those are the basic four methods of sleep coaching. And again, the most important point is that you pick the sleep coaching method that you can follow through with consistently.

Sweet dreams,
The Sleep Lady

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have thoughts about the above or would like to ask your own sleep question for the Sleep Lady then please leave it below. Please feel free to click the “reply” link under this article and leave a comment or question.

Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!