Avoiding sleep training

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Avoiding sleep training

So a lot of parents call me up and say, "Kim, my first child was a horrible sleeper and we're pregnant or we have a newborn. Is there a way to avoid that sleep training that we had to do with the first one?" Or they have a newborn and things are not going as well as they had hoped and it's only really the beginning and they say, "Is there something we can do to prevent this or must all children me sleep trained?" And all children do not need to be sleep trained. You can do what I call gentle sleep shaping. And I have 8 rules that I talk about in my book to help you avoid sleep problems down the road. So I would say a couple of them are feeding upon wakeup, making sure your child's well-napped, and making sure that you just pick one time in a 24-hour period, maybe after 6 - 8 weeks old, where you put your baby down awake. So maybe they're swaddled and cozy and drowsy from being fed, but awake and aware that you've put them down. And you stay and you offer physical and verbal reassurance, patting and shushing until they go to sleep, and then you start weening off the patting and shushing as they learn how to put themselves to sleep. And that really helps at bedtime, because remember, night sleep develops before day sleep. And so we focus on night sleep first and getting great naps any way we can for our newborns. And then usually it all sort of falls into place over time.

See Kim West, LCSW-C's video on Avoiding sleep training...


Expert Bio

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Kim West, LCSW-C

Psychotherapist & Author, The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight

Kim West is a mother of two and a Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical (LCSW-C) who has been a practicing child and family social worker for more than 19 years. Known as The Sleep Lady by her clients, over the past 12 years she has helped thousands of tired parents all over the world learn to listen to their intuition, recognize their child’s important cues and behaviors, and gently create changes that promote and preserve his or her healthy sleep habits. 

West has appeared on the Dr. Phil, Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, TLC’s Bringing Home Baby  and CNN, and has been written about in a number of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Baby Talk,  Parenting, The Baltimore Sun, USA Today, The Telegraph, The Irish Independent and the Washington Post. West hosts the sleep section of The Newborn Channel, played in maternity wards in hospitals across the country. West is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy with Joanne Kenen. She is also the author of 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies and The Good Night, Sleep Tight Workbook.

Kim received her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She lives with her family in Annapolis, Maryland.

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