I reviewed Dr. Ferber’s method of sleep training in my last post. If you read that and don’t think any crying will work for you (whether it’s you or the baby!), you should check out today’s review of the Sleep Lady Shuffle. This is a gentle sleep training method that is proven to help both parent and baby with the move to a full night’s sleep.
Let’s begin, shall we?
First off, who is the Sleep Lady? Kim West describes herself as the Sleep Lady and says, “I have spent more than a decade providing help to thousands of weary and bleary families.” She adds:
“I won’t promise you no tears, but I do aim for fewer tears, and I never tell you to just shut the door and let your baby bawl alone in the dark.”
Does that sound comforting to you? Then read on!
I admit we chose the Ferber method for our sleep training needs, but I read this book first on the advice of a friend. She experienced success using the Sleep Lady’s techniques with her daughter, and Scarlet sleeps 12 hours a night now. Clearly the Sleep Lady knows her stuff, and she offers an alternative to the cry it out and extinction approaches.
You should know that, like Ferber, the Sleep Lady recommends consistency in your approach to sleep training. In other words, start your program and stick with it! This one caveat might help you get your baby to sleep through the night regardless of your chosen method, so whatever you do, plan to be consistent.
I appreciate Kim West’s introduction to her book because she addresses something I’ve been asked countless times about Emmeric.
“Of all the questions new parents face, none is more common than ‘Does your baby sleep?’ If the baby sleeps well, the answer all too often is ‘Yes, she’s a good baby.’ By implication, those who don’t sleep are bad babies. The mother and father, already overwhelmed by exhaustion, must also deal with feelings that they are failing their first test as parents.”
Ouch. I agree that this question pops up all too often when speaking to almost anyone about my son. And I, too, felt defeated about his inability to sleep through the night. The good news, though, is you can do something about this if you suffer the same problems.
So what is the Sleep Lady Shuffle?
The Shuffle takes place over a period of roughly two weeks, give or take. West advises parents to begin by placing the baby in his crib and sitting next to the crib. For the first three nights, you sit next to baby and offer reassurance until he goes to sleep on his own.
The reassurance you offer can be patting on the back, offering a paci, stroking his hair, or making soft “shh” sounds. You do not pick him up. Again, you do not pick him up or else you risk reinforcing the behavior that made you pick him up in the first place.
Every three nights, you move a little further away from baby. You always offer reassurance so he knows you’re there and available if he really needs you. This way he learns that you aren’t disappearing in the middle of the night never to return again. You offer comforting words and actions that give your child confidence about falling asleep on his own.
By the end of two weeks, you should be able to leave your child alone to fall asleep without experiencing lots of tears.
West’s book, The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight gives the specifics of the program and explains when to move away from your child during the two week period.
What does the Sleep Lady address in her book?
You might think that finding this information online will work great for you instead of buying the book. And you might be right! I do want to share a little of what she covers in her book so you can make that decision yourself. I won’t lay out all the steps in this post, but I’m sure you can find them elsewhere. Of course, she has her own website for tips and tricks as well.
West addresses cosleeping and the tricky nature of sleep training when you share a bed with your child. One thing she addresses is the reason you chose to cosleep, whether it was your decision or something that happened to you. She gives tips and tricks to move your baby out of the master bedroom and into his own room, and she has sound reasons for why to make that transition.
She discusses sleep associations (she calls them sleep crutches) that keep children from falling asleep on their own. She says, “Throughout this book we’ll be learning how to replace negative associations with positive ones that help babies and children go to sleep, stay asleep, and wake up happy.”
One awesome chapter she includes is on Itsy Bitsy Yoga. I adore yoga for relaxation and preparing for bedtime, and this chapter makes my heart happy. The founder of Itsy Bitsy Yoga graciously allowed West to include a few nighttime poses to do with your baby. I tried several of these, and they make bedtime routines fun for you and your baby. They create those positive sleep associations West wants you to develop for your child by letting baby know it’s time for sleep.
So how old does your child have to be for West’s training to work? She discusses sleep training for children from newborns to 5 years old. She doesn’t suggest starting sleep training in the first few months, but she does offer some suggestions for creating positive sleep associations from birth.
Some other things West covers include routine busters, helping siblings to learn good sleep habits, and medical problems that could create sleep problems. I like how comprehensive she is in her approach. Like Ferber, she offers solutions to a number of different issues that you may or may not experience, and having these tools helps.
So while we chose Ferber, I feel confident recommending her sleep training methods because they seem gentle enough for almost any parent.
What’s your take? Have you used the Sleep Lady Shuffle for yourself? Are you interested in this sleep training method? Share with me in the comments!
P.S. If you’re interested in reading my other sleep training posts, start here!
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