How Does a Gentle Sleep Coach Create a Sleep Plan?
You’ve asked, so I’m answering!
When I work with families, there are multiple factors I take into consideration when creating a customized sleep plan. Before your consultation, I send you a 7-page history form which guides me in putting your sleep plan together.
I always recommend that my clients put as much detail as possible into this form, as these details are crucial in creating a sleep plan that will work for you, your child, and your entire family.
Key Topics Covered in the History Form Include:
- Your Goals:
- Some families I work with want sleep as quickly as possible, and some prefer to trade tears for time.
- Most of my families with babies under 12 months prefer to night wean slowly or to partially night wean until their baby is a little older.
- Some families are preparing for a back-to-work transition and want their baby to sleep well at daycare (and they want to function well at work)!
- Some families want to improve sleep while continuing to room share, while other families are ready to transition their little one into their own sleep space.
- I understand that not everyone has the same goals, and I want to make sure that your sleep plan will help you achieve YOUR sleep goals.
- Feeding practices/patterns/breastfeeding:
- I want to know all about your current feeding practices as well as your feeding goals. If your goal is to continue breastfeeding, I want to make sure that your milk supply is protected throughout the coaching/night weaning process.
- By understanding your child’s current feeding patterns, we can ensure your child takes in more calories during the day after they start taking in less at night.
- I also look at your current night feeding patterns, as they provide the blueprint for your night weaning (or partial night weaning) plan.
- This is HUGE! Just as every adult is different, so is every child. Easy going babies go through the coaching process much differently than anxious/alert/highly sensitive babies.
- Depending on your child’s temperament, I will have different suggestions to make in both your daily routines, your bedtime routine, and which sleep coaching method I choose for you.
- Your baby’s age:
- I work with babies and children up to 6 years of age.
- Before 21 weeks, I work with families on gentle sleep shaping strategies to set the stage for great sleep habits.
- Between 21 weeks and 6 months of age, I work very closely with you to ensure your baby is coping well with the plan. I have had special training to work with this age group and take into account their developmental stage and feeding needs.
- After 6 months, I take into account any developmental leaps or motor milestones your child will be facing and provide strategies to help you navigate these occurrences.
- Your baby’s current age/health/weight:
- Has your child had any problems with gaining or maintaining weight?
- Some night feedings can be kept or eliminated at a slower pace if any of the above are issues. I always recommend you get a green light from your child’s doctor prior to sleep coaching.
- There are certain medical issues that can interfere with sleep. These include reflux, obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, night terrors, sleepwalking, among other parasomnias. To be clear – I am not a doctor and do not diagnose medical conditions, but I do have training to identify when a referral to a doctor would be the best course of action.
- Pregnancy/birth/postpartum details:
- Did you have a challenging pregnancy or a difficult birth experience? Did you or your baby have some health issues postpartum? These things can cause trauma and stress and the effect of these events can linger.
- Sleep deprivation can heighten symptoms of postpartum mood disorders. This means you need to sleep sooner rather than later, but I also want to make sure you are supported and given appropriate coaching and calming strategies to help you through this journey towards better sleep.
- If you need more support with a postpartum mood disorder, I can help connect you with some amazing community resources.
- Timing of motor milestones:
- Has your child been hitting their milestones early (motor milestones or language skills)? If you are nodding your head, you probably have an alert child. These kids are go-getters from an early age and want to figure everything out NOW! As soon as they are crawling, they want to walk, once walking, they want to run. They are busy, busy, busy! These babies often seem like they need less sleep than most because they are experts at hiding their tired signs. They love to blow through their sleep windows and keep going because there is just so much to learn! Although they can be very convincing that they don’t need to sleep….EVER…. alert babies usually need more sleep than the average. It is BECAUSE their brains are so busy that they need more time to rest.
- This information will help me in finding the ideal nap and bedtime for your child.
- Current Routine:
- I want to know what your days/nights look like now and what is working well for you right now. This will help me create a plan that works with your baby’s natural cues and around your own schedule.
- I want to know what your existing bedtime routine is so that I can work with the steps you have already built.
- If you haven’t yet started a bedtime routine, I can help with that too!
- A bedtime routine provides a baby or child with a sense of predictability, comfort, and security. It can also cue them into feeling sleepy.
- Sleep environment:
- Where does your baby sleep? Where would you like them to sleep? What is in your child’s sleep space? Your answers to these questions will help me create a plan that meets you where you are at.
- If you are currently room sharing or bedsharing and are hoping to move your child into their own room, I can incorporate this move into your plan!
- If you prefer to room share long term, you can coach from inside the room and move your child into their own sleep space when you are ready.
- Who else lives in your home (ie. siblings)?
- Siblings (even if they are great sleepers) can be temporarily affected by the sleep coaching. Your sleep plan will take into account all members of the household.
- If you have more than one child who struggles in the sleep department, I can create a family sleep plan that will help all of your children sleep soundly at night.
- Current self-soothing practices:
- This is important. Some babies and young children are better at this than others. During our consultation, we will have an in-depth chat about what self-soothing looks like in little ones and how you can support your child through any big emotions they are feeling. We want to make sure your little one is being challenged, but not overwhelmed through the sleep coaching process. We do this by understanding how they self-regulate, and by offering loving support when they need it.
This is some of the information I take into account when creating your sleep plan. When we meet for your consultation we discuss your plan in detail, and make any changes needed so it feels right for you.
Consistency is vital to sleep coaching and this is why I want to make sure you feel comfortable with your sleep plan from the start. The plan I give you at your consultation is never set in stone. As you carry out your sleep plan, we will be in constant contact through follow-up phone calls and emails. Depending on how each step is working for you and your child, we can “tweak” the plan as needed. My rule of thumb is: If you have a question, ask.
Andrea Galambos is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, and founder of Blissful Nights. Andrea is a mother to 3 busy little kids and fully understands the toll extreme sleep deprivation can take. As a Gentle Sleep Coach, Andrea works with tired parents of infants and small children, helping them gently and lovingly teach their children invaluable sleep skills. As the children learn to sleep, parents are reunited with their own long-lost and desperately missed uninterrupted sleep.