Is Sleep Coaching Right for Me and My Baby?

You are the only person who will be able to answer that question, but I am happy to provide some information to help with that decision.

Sleep Coaching.

First of all, it’s important to understand what sleep coaching actually is. SLEEP COACHING refers to guiding your child through the process of improving their sleep skills. A loving and supportive response from the coaching parent helps a baby manage the big emotions that may be attached to a change in routine. As your child’s sleep and self-soothing skills improve, you offer less support until your

Baby Sleeping Peacefully After Sleep Coaching
Baby Sleeping Peacefully After Sleep Coaching

baby is easily falling asleep all by themselves. Parents usually start with in-arms or in-room coaching and gradually fade out their presence (typically over the course of 1-3 weeks).

When coaching from beside your child, you can help bring them back to feeling calm if they are starting to come overwhelmed. The goal of sleep coaching is to avoid feelings of overwhelmed or distressed while supporting them through appropriate emotions (ie. sad, mad, frustrated, etc.). No-one learns new skills when feeling distressed. Since the goal is long-term healthy sleep habits, support through the coaching process is key!

Sleep coaching methods have an extremely high success rate because they are flexible go at the child’s pace and can work for almost any temperament, as well as for neurodiverse children (expect it to take somewhat longer when working with a child with autism, SPD, ADHD, or other neuro-complexities).

Understanding the difference between sleep coaching, sleep shaping, and sleep training is also very important. Many people use these words interchangeably, but there is a difference between the three terms.

Sleep Training.

SLEEP TRAINING refers to training a baby to sleep. The Cry it Out or Ferber methods of sleep training usually come to mind when this phrase is mentioned. Sleep training is mostly parent-led and the methods tend to be more rigid. Parents are told not to respond at all, or only to respond at certain time intervals, regardless of how their child is doing.

Based on my professional experience, these methods work well with very easy going babies, but don’t tend to work so well for toddlers, spirited, sensitive, high needs, strong-willed, shy, withdrawn, feisty, or introverted little ones.

Sleep Shaping.

SLEEP SHAPING refers to:

Sleep Shaping; Understanding Baby's Cues
Sleep Shaping; Understanding Baby’s Cues
  • increasing your knowledge of baby sleep so you are aware
    of your baby’s early and late sleep signs
  • putting your baby down when they naturally feel sleepy
  • ensuring they get enough daytime sleep
  • choosing a bedtime that works WITH their circadian
    rhythm rather than against it, AND
  • setting up an ideal sleep environment.

SLEEP COACHING works best when SLEEP SHAPING strategies are used at the same time.

So now that we know what sleep coaching actually is, how do you know when to start?

Six to eight months is a great age to work on establishing independent sleep skills. At this age, past habits aren’t too ingrained and a baby’s ability to self-regulate has increased significantly from the newborn days.

Although they have a greater ability to self-regulate at this age, I still recommend a supportive, responsive in-room approach to help them with any emotions they experience during the coaching process. Emotions are ok, but we want to avoid overwhelm.

Nine to twelve months of age would be considered the second easiest age for sleep coaching.

Changing routines and implementing a sleep coaching plan is markedly harder between 15 months and 2.5 years of age.   Toddlers are in a very egocentric stage of development and their world is all about them; their wants and their needs are of utmost importance to them during this time. Toddlers are notoriously talented at pushing boundaries like it’s their job and tend to hold out longer and louder for what they want.

Sleep coaching is never impossible; you simply might need some extra patience and consistency!

IS THERE AN AGE THAT IS TOO YOUNG FOR SLEEP COACHING?

Yes, babies under 4.5 months of age are too young for sleep coaching.

Brain development in the first few months is quite intense and a baby’s ability to self-regulate is limited.

Babies under 4.5 months aren't ready for sleep coaching
Babies under 4.5 months aren’t ready for sleep coaching

Newborns can become overwhelmed more quickly than babies who are older than 6 months.

Besides emotional regulation capabilities, there is another great reason to wait!  You may have heard of the 4-month sleep regression. This intense period of brain development is characterized by extra fussiness, clinginess, crying, and trouble sleeping. Even if your baby was sleeping well prior to this shift, their sleep skills are unlikely to be retained through this developmental leap.

Understanding how baby sleep works, optimizing your child’s sleep environment, and utilizing coping strategies can work wonders in the early weeks.

Sleep coaching is possible between 4.5 & 6 months of age, but is usually a slightly slower process than it would be for an older baby.   We want to make sure your baby is not becoming overwhelmed during the coaching process (no-one learns new skills while overwhelmed). Sometimes this means slowing down and going at their pace.

Ultimately, you know yourself and your child best.  If whatever strategies you are currently using to help your child sleep are working, you don’t need to change anything!  If your current sleep scenario is no longer working for your baby or YOU (remember your needs matter too), it could be the perfect time to make some changes…

Andrea Moore - Gentle Sleep CoachAndrea Moore is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, and founder of Blissful Nights. As a former exhausted parent and mom to three busy little kids, Andrea fully understands the toll extreme sleep deprivation can take. As a Gentle Sleep Coach, Andrea works with tired parents of infants and small children, helping them gently and lovingly teach their children invaluable sleep skills. As the children learn to sleep, parents are reunited with their own long-lost and desperately missed uninterrupted sleep.

To find out more about how Andrea can help your children sleep, please visit www.blissfulnights.ca, or follow her on Facebook or Instagram

Is Sleep Coaching Right for Me and My Baby?

 

You are the only person who will be able to answer that question, but I am happy to provide some information to help with that decision.

Sleep Coaching.

First of all, it’s important to understand what sleep coaching actually is. SLEEP COACHING refers to guiding your child through the process of improving their sleep skills. A loving and supportive response from the coaching parent helps a baby manage the big emotions that may be attached to a change in routine. As your child’s sleep and self-soothing skills improve, you offer less support until your

Baby Sleeping Peacefully After Sleep Coaching
Baby Sleeping Peacefully After Sleep Coaching

baby is easily falling asleep all by themselves. Parents usually start with in-arms or in-room coaching and gradually fade out their presence (typically over the course of 1-3 weeks).

When coaching from beside your child, you can help bring them back to feeling calm if they are starting to come overwhelmed. The goal of sleep coaching is to avoid feelings of overwhelmed or distressed while supporting them through appropriate emotions (ie. sad, mad, frustrated, etc.). No-one learns new skills when feeling distressed. Since the goal is long-term healthy sleep habits, support through the coaching process is key!

Sleep coaching methods have an extremely high success rate because they are flexible go at the child’s pace and can work for almost any temperament, as well as for neurodiverse children (expect it to take somewhat longer when working with a child with autism, SPD, ADHD, or other neuro-complexities).

Understanding the difference between sleep coaching, sleep shaping, and sleep training is also very important. Many people use these words interchangeably, but there is a difference between the three terms.

Sleep Training.

SLEEP TRAINING refers to training a baby to sleep. The Cry it Out or Ferber methods of sleep training usually come to mind when this phrase is mentioned. Sleep training is mostly parent-led and the methods tend to be more rigid. Parents are told not to respond at all, or only to respond at certain time intervals, regardless of how their child is doing.

Based on my professional experience, these methods work well with very easy going babies, but don’t tend to work so well for toddlers, spirited, sensitive, high needs, strong-willed, shy, withdrawn, feisty, or introverted little ones.

Sleep Shaping.

SLEEP SHAPING refers to:

Sleep Shaping; Understanding Baby's Cues
Sleep Shaping; Understanding Baby’s Cues
  • increasing your knowledge of baby sleep so you are aware
    of your baby’s early and late sleep signs
  • putting your baby down when they naturally feel sleepy
  • ensuring they get enough daytime sleep
  • choosing a bedtime that works WITH their circadian
    rhythm rather than against it, AND
  • setting up an ideal sleep environment.

SLEEP COACHING works best when SLEEP SHAPING strategies are used at the same time.

So now that we know what sleep coaching actually is, how do you know when to start?

Six to eight months is a great age to work on establishing independent sleep skills. At this age, past habits aren’t too ingrained and a baby’s ability to self-regulate has increased significantly from the newborn days.

Although they have a greater ability to self-regulate at this age, I still recommend a supportive, responsive in-room approach to help them with any emotions they experience during the coaching process. Emotions are ok, but we want to avoid overwhelm.

Nine to twelve months of age would be considered the second easiest age for sleep coaching.

Changing routines and implementing a sleep coaching plan is markedly harder between 15 months and 2.5 years of age.   Toddlers are in a very egocentric stage of development and their world is all about them; their wants and their needs are of utmost importance to them during this time. Toddlers are notoriously talented at pushing boundaries like it’s their job and tend to hold out longer and louder for what they want.

Sleep coaching is never impossible; you simply might need some extra patience and consistency!

IS THERE AN AGE THAT IS TOO YOUNG FOR SLEEP COACHING?

Yes, babies under 4.5 months of age are too young for sleep coaching.

Brain development in the first few months is quite intense and a baby’s ability to self-regulate is limited.

Babies under 4.5 months aren't ready for sleep coaching
Babies under 4.5 months aren’t ready for sleep coaching

Newborns can become overwhelmed more quickly than babies who are older than 6 months.

Besides emotional regulation capabilities, there is another great reason to wait!  You may have heard of the 4-month sleep regression. This intense period of brain development is characterized by extra fussiness, clinginess, crying, and trouble sleeping. Even if your baby was sleeping well prior to this shift, their sleep skills are unlikely to be retained through this developmental leap.

Understanding how baby sleep works, optimizing your child’s sleep environment, and utilizing coping strategies can work wonders in the early weeks.

Sleep coaching is possible between 4.5 & 6 months of age, but is usually a slightly slower process than it would be for an older baby.   We want to make sure your baby is not becoming overwhelmed during the coaching process (no-one learns new skills while overwhelmed). Sometimes this means slowing down and going at their pace.

Ultimately, you know yourself and your child best.  If whatever strategies you are currently using to help your child sleep are working, you don’t need to change anything!  If your current sleep scenario is no longer working for your baby or YOU (remember your needs matter too), it could be the perfect time to make some changes…

Andrea Moore - Gentle Sleep CoachAndrea Moore is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, and founder of Blissful Nights. As a former exhausted parent and mom to three busy little kids, Andrea fully understands the toll extreme sleep deprivation can take. As a Gentle Sleep Coach, Andrea works with tired parents of infants and small children, helping them gently and lovingly teach their children invaluable sleep skills. As the children learn to sleep, parents are reunited with their own long-lost and desperately missed uninterrupted sleep.

To find out more about how Andrea can help your children sleep, please visit www.blissfulnights.ca, or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

Breastfeeding and Sleep Coaching

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