Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What is gentle sleep training in Nut Shell?

I want to better understand how sleep training works. Is the core principle in sleep training sending a clear and consistent message regarding sleep to the baby? In other words, is sleep training about doing the same thing every time it’s sleep time in order to set a boundary so that my baby knows what I’m going to do and therefore knows how to behave?


The type of sleep training I teach parents to do is more about understanding the baby's needs, meeting those needs, and then making changes that still meet the needs but undoes the sleep crutches or sleep associations. We do it in such a way that is slow and with as low stress as possible, reading the baby's body language to still meet the needs and keep the infant mental health as the priority.  Once you have a plan that can do that, you need to be consistent with it, (within reason) to help the baby adjust to the new scenarios providing lots of responding.

In a nut shell, you want to help the baby go through the natural learning process that comes with learning sleep skills at an age appropriate level.  There are many variable that help make the process go smoother.  If your baby has an alert temperament, you want to do a method that has more responding in it and avoid Cry it Out (CIO) Methods.  CIO methods can cause an anxiety disorder in some alert babies so you want to be cautious if your method is going to cause too much stress.  It is possible to meet the baby's needs and your needs.  Most of the time, the goals the parents tell me they have are completely possible.  I will be up front with you if they are not.

You can co-sleep or undo co-sleeping and still develop improved sleep skills.  You can crib sleep, floor mattress sleep, nursery sleep or room share. There usually is a gentle sleep training option that fits your family style.

Share your goals with me and see if you would like to work together on a gentle sleep plan. I will coach you and you coach your baby.

Gentle sleep training is generally for ages 6 months to 6 years old. There are special plans for younger babies as early as 18 weeks but we take it really slow and very gently.  Gentle sleep training fosters secure attachment and help to develop independent and happy children.  

Tracy Spackman is the mother of 5 children and is Certified and Extensively Trained as a Gentle Sleep Coach.

Tracy Spackman
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Help, She stands up and can't get back down, now how do I get her to bed?

A common problem that happens with helping 7-10 month old babies sleeping on their own is standing and not being able to get back down. They have reached the developmental milestone of being able to pull themselves to stand but they have not mastered the skill of plopping back down on their bottoms and then laying down again. If this is the stage they are in, you will need to help them to lay down. Don't lay them down. Think of it as helping them to help themselves. They must do some of the work and you do some of the work. You are just helping them, not doing it for them.

There is a great game that you can play that will help them with the skill. I'm sure you know it. Ring Around The Rosy. Kim West, the author of Good Night Sleep Tight, mentions it in her book in her 9 to 12 months section. I thought this was a great idea.  

Here's how I do it:
In the living room by your sofa, have your baby pull themselves to stand at the sofa and you sit on your hunches or squat down so that your feet on the floor but you're as close to the babies level as possible. Sing the song "Ring around the Rosie" and when you say "we all fall down" then you fall down on your bum and laugh in a silly way that makes your baby laugh. Encourage your baby to plop down on their bum. Maybe you need to push in the back of their knees, gently pull them down or do it again. When your baby plops down on their bum successfully, then laugh in your silly way again. Your baby will want to plop down on their bum again in order to get you to laugh like that again so play the game over and over and over. This develops the muscle memory of standing up and sitting down without too much thought. The next step is to play this game in the crib. Play this game during playtime, not right before sleep time. Place your baby in the crib and you stand outside the crib and sing the song and plop down on your bum and laugh. When your baby plops themselves down on their bum, then laugh again.  Don't forget that YOU are your baby's favorite toy. 

When your baby has mastered the skill, then you can have the confidence that they can get themselves down when they pull themselves to stand after you put them in bed and in the middle of the night. Encourage them to lay down but don't lay them down yourself. Allow them to practice using their own skill. It will be a hump to get over to get them to do it at night time. You can do it. 

If you need help with the sleep plan, give me a call. 

Tracy Spackman
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach