As a clinical social worker in private practice for 18 years I have been counseling families on a wide variety of parenting issues from dealing with tantrums, discipline, bottle weaning to of course, sleep. Over the last 14 years families have sought me out to help them with their child’s sleep. My clinical background in child development and adult psychology has helped me immensely in creating individualized approaches to help the entire family’s well being. I factor in your parenting philosophy, your child’s age, health and temperament, mother’s well being and the related family dynamics.
The Sleep Lady’s Philosophy
For those who have not read my book they ask, “What’s your philosophy? Are you a CIO proponent or family bed advocate? Do I have to stop breast feeding to sleep coach my child, do I have to choose between two camps: co-sleeping/no crying or crib/cry-it-out?”
I don’t believe you need to pick a camp; this isn’t about right or wrong. It’s about what is working for you and your family.
It is true that the CIO method and the starker extinction methods can work well and a bit faster then gentler methods IF you as the parent can follow through consistently and for long enough.
I developed my more gradual gentle method because I found so many parents had difficulty following through with a sleep coaching program that they fear will damage their child emotionally or fill them with so much guilt they couldn’t follow through.
My approach is a gentler alternative for families who emotionally or philosophically resist letting their babies cry it out: for families who tried “Ferber” and it didn’t work, and for families who let their infant CIO at 3 or 4 months but found it didn’t help later. I have also helped families who believe in co-sleeping but find that their children aren’t really sleeping all that well, even nestled snugly with Mom and Dad. And I have helped guide many families who did co-sleep for a few months to a few years but now want the family bed to revert back to the marital one.
Much of my work is with babies between 6 and 18months whose pediatricians agree should be able to sleep through the night. But if your child is older, don’t worry its not too late to improve her sleep, although it may take longer to break habits that are more deeply ingrained. I have helped numerous toddlers, many sets of twins, triplets and even a set of quadruplets and more than a smattering of school aged children.
Answers to some frequently asked questions about The Sleep Lady’s philosophy:
-This is NOT a “cookie cutter” approach. You can use part of my method or the whole thing- or use it for nights and not naps.
-I support breastfeeding! It is not necessary to end breastfeeding to successfully sleep coach your child. I will help you gently move away from using nursing as your sole and primary sleep crutch.
-I work with parents of children ages newborn to 5 years old over the phone and all over the globe.
-I can not guarantee “no crying”…no one really can. For example, if you as the parent have taught your child that the way to fall asleep is to be held to sleep for all naps, bedtimes and wakings and you decide that you want to change this, your child will naturally resist this change. After all, they don’t know why you have changed your approach. If your child is pre-verbal then they will cry. My goal is to have as little crying as possible. I encourage parents be loving and responsive but to allow the child the room to learn this vital life skill of putting themselves to sleep. The parent responds and stays with their child and offers physical and verbal reassurance without putting the child to sleep. This supports the development of a secure attachment between parent and child.
-If your child is healthy and you are consistent, I have a 95% success rate.
The art of putting yourself to sleep is a priceless gift you can give to your child and your entire family.