Baby Sleep Coaching: What Is the Best Method for My Child??

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  • September 25, 2012

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,
Kim
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.

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8 Comments

  • sedoo says:

    Our son, 16 months, has never been a “good sleeper” since birth. I feel that part of this stems from having really bad reflux and associating sleep with pain early on. From 3-6 months I read every sleep book/site I could find and was religious about the methods I tried. Nothing seemed to work for him. Finally at 6 months, when he was up every single hour at night, we just started trusting our instincts and did whatever it took to get him to sleep, book-recommended or not. Now he sleeps far better than ever, but it’s far from perfect. We play what I call “musical beds” (sleeping in his room half of the night) and have to help him get to sleep and back to sleep the few times he wakes up at night and during naps. We cannot leave his crib side as he falls asleep. If we do, he stands up, screams and now, climbs out of the crib. He has a very hard time settling down and always has. We’ve had the same bedtime routine since 6 wks old. Bath, diaper/pjs, books, nursing, sleep. How do we continue to make progress without being attached to his bedside for an hour as he falls asleep? Out of desperation we tried CIO for a time when he was younger and it didn’t work with his temperament, nor for our hearts. Now that he can climb out of his crib that is not an option for us. I want him to like going to sleep, but it’s something we all still seem to dread – naps and bedtime. Though we’ve come so so far, bedtime is still a struggle and a point of stress for me. I appreciate any advice you can provide! – Shannon

  • sedoo says:

    Our son, 16 months, has never been a “good sleeper” since birth. I feel that part of this stems from having really bad reflux and associating sleep with pain early on. From 3-6 months I read every sleep book/site I could find and was religious about the methods I tried. Nothing seemed to work for him. Finally at 6 months, when he was up every single hour at night, we just started trusting our instincts and did whatever it took to get him to sleep, book-recommended or not. Now he sleeps far better than ever, but it’s far from perfect. We play what I call “musical beds” (sleeping in his room half of the night) and have to help him get to sleep and back to sleep the few times he wakes up at night and during naps. We cannot leave his crib side as he falls asleep. If we do, he stands up, screams and now, climbs out of the crib. He has a very hard time settling down and always has. We’ve had the same bedtime routine since 6 wks old. Bath, diaper/pjs, books, nursing, sleep. How do we continue to make progress without being attached to his bedside for an hour as he falls asleep? Out of desperation we tried CIO for a time when he was younger and it didn’t work with his temperament, nor for our hearts. Now that he can climb out of his crib that is not an option for us. I want him to like going to sleep, but it’s something we all still seem to dread – naps and bedtime. Though we’ve come so so far, bedtime is still a struggle and a point of stress for me. I appreciate any advice you can provide! – Shannon

  • SMOR says:

    Hi Kim,
     
    My daughter is 18 months and sleeps from 7.20pm at night until 6.30am or 7am in the morning. When is comes to naps, she is on one nap, but is still so tired in the mornings. This morning, she fell asleep in her stroller at 10.15am. Does this mean she isn’t ready for just 1 nap per day?
     
    Thank you,
     
    Sarah

  • SMOR says:

    Hi Kim,
     
    My daughter is 18 months and sleeps from 7.20pm at night until 6.30am or 7am in the morning. When is comes to naps, she is on one nap, but is still so tired in the mornings. This morning, she fell asleep in her stroller at 10.15am. Does this mean she isn’t ready for just 1 nap per day?
     
    Thank you,
     
    Sarah

  • ravas says:

    Hi Kim
    I am  a mother of  12 month old daughter. Ever since her birth there is no single night that she has slept throughtout the night. She gets up 5-6 times every night. I have to BF her only then she sleeps again.I was told that she is not getting enough solid food because she is very fussy when it comes to eating. I have worked a lot on that but still no result.I bought a swing 5 months back and that hepled me making her sleep in the day time for 1-2 hrs at the max. She is quite playful otherwise. Can you help me? Its been a year now of this constant struggle.
    thanks
    Rav

  • ravas says:

    Hi Kim
    I am  a mother of  12 month old daughter. Ever since her birth there is no single night that she has slept throughtout the night. She gets up 5-6 times every night. I have to BF her only then she sleeps again.I was told that she is not getting enough solid food because she is very fussy when it comes to eating. I have worked a lot on that but still no result.I bought a swing 5 months back and that hepled me making her sleep in the day time for 1-2 hrs at the max. She is quite playful otherwise. Can you help me? Its been a year now of this constant struggle.
    thanks
    Rav

  • Aprilamiel says:

    Hi Kim,
    I have a 2.5 year old who has always been a decent sleeper. About 5 months ago (which was 1-2 months after we moved his room from the nursery to his now bedroom, although still in his crib), He started waking up most nights at least once if not 2-4 times crying out.  I’ll go in there, sh-sh him quietly, cover him and leave, and he goes right back to sleep.  Now that we have a newborn (13 weeks), things haven’t improved and his night waking is really wearing on me and compounding my exhaustion because the baby is also still waking up 2-3 times a night.  We’ve tried a reward system (stickers in the morning if he doesn’t wake us), which seemed to work briefly but he’s back to waking again.  He goes to bed about 7:45 and wakes up btw 7-8.  Naps from about 1:30- 4, so I don’t think he’s sleep deprived.  What should I be doing differently to get him to sleep soundly thru the night??  I havnt slept for more than 3-4 hours (max) in a row in over 3 months so I don’t know how much longer I can take it.  Help!

  • Aprilamiel says:

    Hi Kim,
    I have a 2.5 year old who has always been a decent sleeper. About 5 months ago (which was 1-2 months after we moved his room from the nursery to his now bedroom, although still in his crib), He started waking up most nights at least once if not 2-4 times crying out.  I’ll go in there, sh-sh him quietly, cover him and leave, and he goes right back to sleep.  Now that we have a newborn (13 weeks), things haven’t improved and his night waking is really wearing on me and compounding my exhaustion because the baby is also still waking up 2-3 times a night.  We’ve tried a reward system (stickers in the morning if he doesn’t wake us), which seemed to work briefly but he’s back to waking again.  He goes to bed about 7:45 and wakes up btw 7-8.  Naps from about 1:30- 4, so I don’t think he’s sleep deprived.  What should I be doing differently to get him to sleep soundly thru the night??  I havnt slept for more than 3-4 hours (max) in a row in over 3 months so I don’t know how much longer I can take it.  Help!