My Sleep Philosophy
Evidence shows that a well-rested child is curious, energetic, happy, playful, and eager to learn.
Some parents ask about whether the program involves “crying it out," so I want to address the issue of crying right away. Crying is your child’s way of protesting change. Changes to your child's sleep and the behavioral sleep habits that your child has learned will most likely bring at least some amount of protest from your child. When your child cries from changes to sleep habits, he/she is saying, "I don't know how to do this."
Hearing a baby cry is upsetting to me. I imagine it is upsetting to most of us! I will show you how to watch for signs of success, even in the midst of your child's protest. Signs of success are signs that your child is actively working to put himself or herself to sleep, and these can look like: sucking on hands and fingers, kicking legs, turning head from side to side, rolling onto one side, bringing a blanket or lovey up to the face, and more.
Please understand that I will never ask you to leave your child to cry alone, nor will I ask you to ignore their cries. We will work together to develop a plan that you feel comfortable with, based on what you know about your child.
The program works because I'll show you a simple, step-by-step process that includes exactly what to do every day and night. There’s no confusion. There’s no guessing. I’ll explain to you WHY the steps are important and then show you exactly how to follow them. The plan is customized to your child. A sensitive child will respond better to one approach, whereas an active child will respond better to another.
Every child is different, and my approach varies at least slightly with every child I work with, so please keep in mind that this is a general outline of the methods that I use for each age group.
The best thing about working with me is that I will tailor a sleep plan for your child and work with you for up to a month, supporting you, encouraging you, and navigating challenges as soon as they arise, before they snowball into major issues.
With that being said, here are the general methods per age group that I most often use, and the ones that I don't use, and why.
Newborns and Younger Babies
I work with families of newborns, but I don’t sleep train newborns and very young babies. When I work with families of newborns and very young babies, I help them find the appropriate amount of wake times between naps, and I help them get enough nighttime and daytime sleep (which may also mean helping them differentiate between day and night). If parents are extremely exhausted from waking every hour or from a bed-sharing situation that isn’t working, we find solutions where everyone is comfortable.
Some methods I may suggest for very young babies are: motion, swaddling, transition-swaddling, pacifiers, picking up, holding, and working carefully with night feeds. Using only these gentle methods for newborns, nights begin to grow longer and babies begin to sleep 8 to 12 hours in the night, oftentimes by 8 to 12 weeks of age.
As with older babies and toddlers, I take an in-depth assessment of each family’s daytime and nighttime situation to come up with a personalized sleep plan. This personalized plan, along with my unlimited support for the few weeks that we work together, will ensure that your newborn will be on the way towards healthy sleep for nighttime and naps.
Babies 3 Months and Older
For older babies, I work closely with their timing of routines, feeds, sleep, wake-ups and nap rhythms. I use the most gentle sleep training methods, which often consists of having a parent stay in the room with their child, and offering a comforting touch to their child through the changes.
If a parent or doctor wants to keep a night feed or two for this age group, we will keep night feeds.
I don’t teach "extinction" or “cry it out” (leaving a child alone in the room) while a child is first learning, and here's why:
In the first week or two of sleep training, a child is learning how to go to sleep without sleep props. That, coupled with the fact that most older babies have a developed sense of "object permanence," (they will know that you've left the room and that you're out there somewhere, and they want you to come back). Even though studies show that a child's cortisol levels do not rise beyond normal levels during extinction, I feel that having the comforting presence of a parent will keep stress levels much lower.
In some cases, an interval method, or leave and check method may be the better method of choice according to the family situation and how baby responds. I often work with parents to help them know when and how to use different methods.
Working with this age group is one of my favorite things, and I especially love all kinds of challenging cases! If you think your child can't go to sleep or sleep well during the night, reach out to me and let's talk!
Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Older Children
I offer a unique approach that is easy and fun for children to understand and want to participate in! If your child is standing and crying, you have an entirely different challenge. The challenge grows when your child can walk out of the room in the middle of the night, or several times a night. And when your child can ask for socks, more water, a band-aid…or when your child has anxiety and nightmares.
Believe it or not, our toddlers, preschoolers and older children have a desire to participate in their own sleep and bedtime process. I love giving them a chance and letting them surprise us.
For older children, I utilize communication and their own participation in easy-to-understand, in-the-moment, personalized outcomes (not punishments) and they get to make the choice to go to sleep easily and stay in bed all night. I also work closely with their timing of routines, sleep, wake-ups and nap rhythms. Don’t believe it’s possible? Book a call with me and I will point you in the direction of several of my toddler parents who will happily tell you their success stories!