Last updated on March 21st, 2024

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

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Busting Myths: The Truth About Gentle Sleep Coaching

In an effort to bust sleep coaching misconceptions and prevent them from spreading further, I’ve put together a list of myths that my Gentle Sleep Coaches and I have heard and read in while trying to help families get better sleep. There seems to be some confusion online between The Sleep Lady Shuffle, my sleep coaching technique designed almost 30 years ago, and other methods that are not like my gentle approach.

Keep reading, as we bust just a few of the sleep coaching myths we see time and time again, and learn the truth behind them.

sleep coaching myths


Sleep Coaching Myth #1: The Chair Method does not encourage you to comfort your child

One of the myths I hear constantly is that the “Chair Method” means you sit by your child’s crib or bed and do not respond in any way. This means no eye contact, no touch or verbal reassurance and no picking them up to calm their distress, all while moving your chair further away each night.


For more than 25 years The Sleep Lady Shuffle or what some call either the Shuffle or SLS, has also been referred to as the “Chair Method”, though incorrectly explained. The Shuffle is a gentle, responsive sleep coaching method that does involve sitting in a chair by your child’s crib or bed, but everything from shushing, saying “it’s okay”, patting, humming, and picking up to calm your baby or child is encouraged!

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Sleep Coaching Myth #2: The Shuffle is basically “crying-it-out” while sitting next to your child

We’ve heard parents say that the Chair Method or the Shuffle is “basically crying-it-out while sitting next to your child”.


I never understood why a parent would say that UNTIL I learned about the misinformation being shared online! The Sleep Lady Shuffle involves parents offering a lot of support while their child learns how to fall asleep. Remember, the ultimate goal is to transfer the work of going to sleep from you to your child. Parents can do this gradually in a way that stretches their child’s sleep skills by tapering off how much presence and support you offer over time.


Sleep Coaching Myth #3: Gentle sleep training methods do not work

Another myth we hear from parents is that they believe gentle sleep training methods do not work, and only crying-it-out is proven to work.


“Gentle sleep coaching methods such as parental fading have been shown to be as effective as crying-it-out. It works so well because it matches with how we teach children most skills: we help them a lot at first. Then, we let them practice doing more and more on their own. We don’t show a child a two-wheeler and say: ‘good luck with this, kiddo. I’ll be inside. If I help you, you won’t learn to do it yourself. No. You hold onto the back of the seat for dear life until the child starts getting the hang of it. Then, you start gradually letting go—with a hand hovering right behind to catch the bike if it starts tipping over. The better the child gets at keeping the bike upright, the more we let go.”

Excerpt from “Why Won’t You Sleep”- by Macall Gordon and Kim West

coming soon in November 2024

To help parents navigate the nuances of sleep coaching, I’ve prepared a detailed guide that goes beyond this blog post to debunk even more common sleep misconceptions. Click HERE to download our 16 Sleep Myths + Facts Guide and embark on a well-informed journey toward better sleep for both you and your little one.

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!