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Washington, DC, 20003
United States

Intuitive Parenting offers evidence-based breastfeeding, childbirth, and parenting education for both expecting and new parents in a comfortable home setting located in Capital Hill, Washington DC.

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What is infant sleep education?

Kimberly Hawley

I’m very excited to have expanded my business with a new service, Infant Sleep Education. With so many different approaches to sleep, I feel that it’s important to share a little bit about what Infant Sleep Education is and isn’t. I hope you will find this Q & A helpful for learning more about this great approach to sleep. 

Smiling mother holding a sleeping baby in her arms Washington DC sleep education

What is an infant sleep educator?
 

Infant sleep educators support the normal sleep patterns of babies and toddlers. We help parents understand normal sleep and how responding to your baby helps build strong attachment and optimal brain development. We look at sleep in the context of the whole family because sleep cannot be addressed in isolation.

So many parents start off with unrealistic expectations of their baby’s sleep. Adjusting expectations through education can go a long way towards reducing stress. Even with a good understanding of normal sleep behavior, sometimes things need to change. There are many factors that can help families get more sleep without overriding a baby’s normal and healthy sleep behavior. 

How is this different than sleep training?
 

Sleep training uses a behaviorist model to “fix” your baby’s sleep. Sleep trainers’ goals are to get your baby sleeping through the night, even though night waking is a completely normal behavior for babies. In reality, they are training your baby to stop crying for you, not necessarily to get more sleep. Sleep training is stressful and goes against most parents’ instincts.

Sleep Education addresses sleep from an attachment theory and developmental approach. Sleep education recognizes that waking in the night is both normal and healthy. Even with this understanding, there are ways to ensure better sleep for the whole family. A sleep educator will help you find areas to change that work for your family, resulting in more rest. 

How does an Infant Sleep Educator help you make changes?
 

Infant Sleep Educators empower parents to make changes that work for your family. We do this through a collaborative approach and the SLEEP formula.

S: Serve the client with developmentally appropriate sleep education

L: Listen to the clients questions and concerns

E: Empathetically respond

E: Enquire to get all the unique pieces that show us the whole picture

P: Provide a framework for the clients plan that is easy to understand and uniquely designed for the clients needs

But shouldn’t my baby be sleeping through the night?
 

Everyone loves to talk about how their baby sleeps through the night, and ask you if your baby has slept through yet.  Sleeping through the night is the holy grail of parenting.

But here is the thing, even adults don’t sleep through the night. Some night waking is normal for all people. Sleeping for longer stretches is a developmental milestone that your baby will reach when baby is ready. In the meantime, you can support a healthy relationship with sleep. This will help everyone be more rested through these early years. 

But don’t I need to teach my baby to sleep?
 

Babies are born knowing how to sleep. In fact, they spend a lot of the time during pregnancy sleeping. We don’t need to teach them to sleep, but we do need to parent them to sleep. Babies need a family environment that encourages them to respect their circadian rhythms for optimal health.

How can a Sleep Educator help me get ready for my baby when I’m pregnant?
 

Sleep Educators love working with expecting parents to help them understand normal sleep right from the beginning. Having realistic expectations greatly helps you adjust to the new member of your family, and having a range of nighttime parenting tools will help you confidently support your baby as she grows and develops.

If you are looking for education on normal sleep or want sleep support that is not sleep training, I hope you will check out my sleep offerings here.