Last updated on April 16th, 2024

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

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If you’re a parent, chances are that you’ve struggled to help your child sleep at some point. If you’re baby is experiencing sleep problems, chances are that you are, too. And while I know that you’re eager to get your baby into good sleep habits, jumping into sleep coaching without proper preparation can be a disaster.

You wouldn’t try out for professional football without first learning the basics, and the same logic is applicable to sleep coaching. Whether you choose to hire a Gentle Sleep Coach to walk you through the process, or you purchase my book (or any book on baby sleep, for that matter), you need to walk before you run.

I’ve talked to so many parents who purchase my book and completely skip the (very important) initial chapters to go straight to the chapter that applies to their baby. The problem is that in those first chapters, I cover the basics of The Sleep Lady Shuffle, including how to do it and the important steps to take before you get started to help increase your chances of success Both are important, and both should be studied before you haphazardly attempt to sleep coach your child.

toddler sleep training

Learn How to Play

If you start as a quarterback without any training, you’ll get tackled and won’t connect with the receiver when you do try to throw the ball. In the world of sleep coaching, if you try to sleep coach before you understand the basics, you’ll find that your baby isn’t receptive, and there may be a lot of frustration and crying for everyone. You may even give up. That’s not what I want. I created my sleep coaching method to help parents coach their children into healthy sleep habits, and it breaks my heart when families give up before they’ve even started.

So please, make sure that you do your research. Read the first chapters of Good Night Sleep Tight, or the Workbook which gets to heart of the matter if you need to move at a more rapid pace. Talk to your Gentle Sleep Coach, or join one of my baby sleep communities for support. You aren’t in this alone, and parenting is a lot easier when you have help.

You may find that your child displays symptoms or an issue that you weren’t aware of, such as sleep apnea, or that your baby isn’t truly ready for sleep coaching because of their age or development. You may also be surprised by some of my suggestions, and some of the challenges to be faced during sleep coaching. Challenges that you would have been ready for if you’d slowed down a bit and prepared. I know that you are eager to get started, but it really helps to prepare.

It pays to keep a sleep and feeding log for a few days before you begin sleep coaching, which will give you an accurate record of your baby’s current habits so that you can pin point any potential problems and have a realistic picture of your baby’s current routine.

Start Off Right

Make sure that you are putting your baby to sleep at an age-appropriate bedtime. You may find that a part of your baby’s sleep troubles are that she’s going to bed far too early or too late. If this is the case, you can make bedtime adjustments gradually in 30-minute increments over a few days prior to beginning your sleep coaching.

Along the same train of thought, you will want to make sure to get your baby used to waking between 6:00 and 7:30 a.m. so that when you begin sleep coaching your baby is used to waking at a set time.

Once you’ve learned the basics, you can start to coach your baby. Remember, our babies are learning their sleep behaviors based upon what we teach them, so it’s much better (and easier) to teach good habits from the moment that you begin to sleep coach. If you are prepared, it’s so much easier to teach your child healthy, positive sleep habits without a lot of frustration. In fact, you’ll find that your baby cries less, sleeps longer, and begins to develop good sleep habits quickly if you go in prepared.

When you begin sleep coaching (and you’ve talked to your Coach or read the book), make sure that you start at bedtime after a good day of naps. Never start sleep coaching in the middle of the night when you are tired and frustrated (which is actually quite common, and I do understand why parents try this, but it’s much more difficult to sleep coach a child who is exhausted when you are also exhausted)- Trying to start the sleep coaching process in the middle of a nap or night time can be extremely difficult and frustrating for both of you.


A Note From The Sleep Lady: You do not want to confuse your baby by starting sleep coaching at 2:00 a.m. after you’ve rocked her to sleep at 8:00 p.m. She won’t understand why you aren’t rocking her again and will likely cry even more. For more information about steps to take before sleep coaching, please see 10 Steps to Take Before You Begin Sleep Coaching.


Did you wait to sleep coach your child or did you dive right in?

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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!