Last updated on March 4th, 2024

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

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Gentle Sleep Coaching: 12 Tips For Better Sleep

sleep coaching tips

In an effort to make gentle sleep coaching more accessible, I have compiled twelve common tips that I give parents, backed by decades of experience, that you can take as you embark on a successful journey toward better sleep for the whole family.

Sleep Coaching Tips: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents

1. Start sleep coaching at bedtime after a great day of naps, using whatever nap methods work best for your child.

2. If you are not up for nap coaching and during the night coaching, then focus your coaching efforts on bedtime as it is the easiest time to teach your child to put themselves to sleep.

3. If you don’t see progress in sleep training after 3 (maximum 5) days, it’s important to pause and consult with your healthcare provider for reassessment.

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4. Set aside a dedicated 3-week period for sleep coaching and make sleep a priority for your family.

5. Prioritize naps and use any means necessary, such as holding, rocking, or feeding, to ensure your child gets the rest they need before starting sleep coaching.

6. Feel free to break up sleep coaching into smaller steps if you or your baby doesn’t feel ready to tackle it all at once. Consider starting with bedtime coaching, then adding middle of the night coaching, and eventually addressing nap coaching separately, if needed. Or just work on your schedule– watching your child’s wakeful windows and finding their ideal bedtime.

7. Know that a gradual, responsive sleep coaching approach like The Shuffle works best for:

  • Children with special needs or non-neurotypical kids
  • Children who are adopted and not at birth where you are focusing on attachment.
  • Children in beds (so you can avoid the anxiety that is provoked when one inevitably closes the child’s door).

8. Consult the blog post “10 Steps to Take Before Starting Sleep Coaching” or additional steps to take before starting sleep coaching.

9. Keep in mind that babies under 6 months are not developmentally ready for nap and night coaching. Instead, follow the Sleep Lady’s Baby Led Sleep Shaping Elements to establish a strong foundation for your baby’s sleep.

10. Instead of rigid schedules, use the clock as a guide and pay attention to your child’s cues. Think of the schedule as a flexible framework for the day.

11. It’s okay to “pick up to calm” your baby if they get very upset. Remember, we all learn better when we are not in a dysregulated state.

12. Get the facts straight and debunk any misinformation about gentle sleep coaching you’ve heard throughout your parenting journey with my handy PDF “16 Common Sleep Myths and Facts” available for free download HERE.”

I know embarking on the journey of sleep coaching your little one can feel overwhelming at times. Be patient with yourself and your child, as progress may take time. Trust your instincts and adapt the strategies to suit your unique family situation. And always remember, you are not alone in this endeavor. The Sleep Lady community is here to support you every step of the way. Together, let’s create a nurturing sleep environment that fosters restful nights for your baby and for yourself.

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!