Why Sleep Coach a Baby?

Jill Bertelsen
There are so many misconceptions about sleep coaching. Some of them include:

    It is too harsh.
    It is neglecting their needs.
    It will create a dependency on specific things such as a dark room, a quiet space, etc.
    It is selfish.
    It isn’t safe to let a baby sleep in their own room.

All of these statements are false if you sleep coach your child correctly.

If you are like most parents, you are probably desperate for sleep. You’ve probably tried everything by now–car rides, hair dryers, getting comfortable in your recliner, and who knows how many times you’ve bounced that baby up and down! Sleep deprivation is very common among new parents, especially ones whose babies have trouble sleeping at night. According to David Dinges, (Karp, p. 13), sleep deprivation can cause poor judgement, slow reaction time, and impaired memory. Sleep deprived individuals even show symptoms similar to that of a drunk person–staggering, slurred words, and stuttering! It is so important that our bodies get adequate amounts of sleep to be able to function at our highest capacities. Are you tired of walking into the office everyday like a zombie? Well, guess what! There is a light at the end of the tunnel! There are so many benefits to sleep coaching your child that will help the whole family! Let’s look at a few.

1. More Sleep for Everyone

Let me ask you a question: when was the last time you slept through the night? It’s probably hard to remember, but one thing to notice is that when your baby is a good sleeper, that means you can be a good sleeper. And so can everyone in your family! Sleep coaching will give your baby the skills he needs to help him sleep longer stretches at night which gives you and your other children the opportunity to get more sleep, too. It is not selfish to have the desire to be well-rested. You will be surprised at how much better you can function in your day when everyone gets the appropriate amount of sleep they need. Say goodbye to your “drunkenness!”

2. Getting your Bedroom Back

If you are like most new parents, your baby is probably sleeping in your room, if not right next to your bed! This is a good thing because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to share a bedroom, but not the same sleep space, with your child for at least 6-12 months. However, many parents struggle with the transition from your room to baby’s room. Some fear it will be traumatic for Baby. In addition, if the transition didn’t go well, many parents probably have a toddler returning to their bed multiple times a week, if not multiple times a night. Not only does this cause sleep interruptions for you, but it can also become an issue in your marriage and your intimacy. Sleep coaching can help with all of those things! As long as you are following the recommendations by the AAP, it is in fact okay for your child to sleep in his own room. With sleep coaching, the transition to their own room becomes easier, and the likelihood of the child staying in their bed all night increases.

3. Learning Valuable Skills

Believe it or not, babies need help learning how to sleep. You may think that is ridiculous considering how much your newborn sleeps during the day! But, it is true. There are many new skills associated with sleep that babies don’t come equipped with. Putting themselves to sleep and soothing themselves are the two biggest skills your child can learn through sleep coaching. When done correctly, it is not harsh, and you most definitely will not be neglecting their needs. Sleep coaching gives your baby the skills to fall back to sleep without your intervention or other sleep crutches such as being rocked, nursed, or lulled to sleep if she wakes during the night. Having these skills reduces crying and promotes sleep for everyone involved.

4. Aligning Schedules

Another perk to sleep coaching your child is aligning your children’s schedules. Once your baby has developed good sleep skills, you can try to align your children’s schedules to have the same bedtimes as well as nap times. This will promote sleep for everyone since they will be less likely to wake each other up. This will allow you to catch up on some things around the house or catch up on your own zzzz’s as well. Even if you don’t have other children, creating good sleep habits will allow you to create a daily schedule for your child. This will further increase your harmony as a family as you will be able to be more productive and get more sleep each night.

5. Enhanced Development

Sleep coaching can also aid in a child’s development. As children are taught the skills to sleep well, they are able to get into a better sleep pattern of REM (rapid-eye-movement) and NREM (non-rapid-eye-movement) sleep cycles. Each cycle is beneficial for growth and development. During the REM cycle, or the dreaming cycle, the brain is very active as it recalls all of the events that happened during the day. In babies, it helps them recall all the stimulation they received while they were awake, and the brain begins to sort through all of the information and files it away as memories. This helps as they begin to learn new words and meanings. During NREM sleep cycles, the body is working on restoring tissues, building bones and muscles, and strengthens the immune system. That is why when you are sick or injured, the best medicine is sleep! This type of sleep is essential for children as they go through such rapid growth spurts. The problem emerges when children are not effectively passing through each sleep cycle, and not getting the full restorative rest their growing bodies need. Sleep coaching teaches children the skills to pass through each sleep cycle smoothly so they are not fully waking up during the transition between REM and NREM. The easier it becomes to pass through the transitions, the better sleep your little one can get to help his growth.

Despite the many myths surrounding sleep coaching, it can actually benefit your family in many ways. I hope you are able to see that sleep coaching can be a wonderful thing. In fact, it can possibly change your whole newborn experience! Introducing skills through sleep coaching can help you adjust to this new phase of life much more smoothly and help your little one as they grow right before your eyes!