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Gentle Sleep Training: 5 Ways to Make Sure It’s Actually Gentle

With tragic frequency, parents have been sharing with me traumatic experiences with prior sleep consultants. Typically, what has happened is that parents were hooked by an approach that was marketed as “gentle” and  turned out to be anything but.

When seeking out help, parents were misled by the words “gentle”, “evidence based”, “minimal crying”, “attachment” and a promise of shared values. However, when the baby didn’t respond as expected. Suddenly, parents were coerced to use the very same methods they were seeking to avoid.

Below are some comments from parents on my Instagram page and client reports on experiences with other gentle sleep coaches and consultants on the market:

  • “She arrived with a booklet that outlined the retreat method for my 5-month old. Method had me in tears and increased my anxiety massively.
  • Would love to get those first few months back so I could enjoy my baby instead of worrying about the time”
  • ”It was awful, and this woman kept texting me back telling me to be strong. I ultimately gave up, and the consultant scolded me for picking [my baby] up one night telling me that picking her up would set things back.”
  • “She told me she will not work with me if I don’t do what she says.”

If something like this has happened to you, know you are not alone. Although the past can’t be changed, you can still create a positive path forward.

If you find yourself in any of the situations above, know that it’s okay to change your mind and try a different approach to reach your sleep goal. If a certain method isn’t working, this is not a sign that you are doing it wrong or that your baby is broken.

It’s a sign that you need a different method.

Even if Talkin’ Sleep is not the right fit for you, please read ahead to learn more about the sleep consulting industry and consider some tips on how to select a reliable sleep consultant who is the right fit for you.

The sleep consulting industry is entirely unregulated.

Anyone, irrespective of qualification, can wake up tomorrow morning and decide to be a sleep consultant/specialist/coach.

They can name themselves whatever fancy name they like and go ahead and open for business.

This means that just because someone calls themselves “gentle,” their method “sleep learning” or “sleep shaping” promises they don’t use cry it out, describes their method as respectful, or claims to understand development, attachment or infant mental health, doesn’t mean that they actually do. 

Gentle is a relative term.

Someone may indeed consider themselves gentle but what is their point of comparison?

If they compare themselves to others who are using the extinction cry it out method (e.g. leaving your 4-month old baby’s room at 7:00 PM and not returning until 7:00 AM the next morning irrespective of if the baby is crying or has a poopy diaper), most other approaches will seem gentle indeed!

Make sure you know what gentle means to you and discuss your expectations with the consultant before starting and through the journey as needed.

Cost is not necessarily indicative of quality.

There is a concept known as “naive theory” which suggests that when we don’t know much about a product we make assumptions about it given its price.

For example, we may believe that a product is lower quality because it is priced more cheaply or higher quality because it is priced at the higher end.

I believe this applies to the sleep consulting market as well.

Do NOT assume that you are getting a higher quality product because the price is higher.

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