What is a sleep crutch?

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What is a sleep crutch?

A sleep crutch is actually the clinical name, a negative sleep association. It's anything that has to be done to you or for you to put yourself to sleep and, therefore, back to sleep. The common ones are; nursing, rocking, bottle feeding, walking, bouncing, lying down with your child, rubbing their back to sleep or twirling their hair. Of course, when your child goes to sleep, you provide that sleep crutch for them. Then when they wake up in the night, they don't know how to go back to sleep. You need to come back in here and do that thing you do; rock, walk, bottle feed, nurse, in order to help me go back to sleep. That's why I call it a sleep crutch. We want to teach our children how to put themselves to sleep independently so they can put themselves back to sleep during the night.

Watch Kim West, LCSW-C's video on What is a sleep crutch?...


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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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