Kim West, The Sleep Lady, Talks All Things Baby Sleep with Practical Tips and Loving Advice

Show Notes:

[1:11] Our reviewer of the week, Epultar, said: “Game Changer for a first birth! I listened to every episode during my first pregnancy 2 years ago. About to go through it all again with my second pregnancy. This podcast and Stephanie’s Instagram really helped me feel like such a strong & educated mama when it came down to delivery. I don’t think it would’ve gone as smoothly as it did without her. Now I know what I’m capable of and I’m not scared at all for the next one. Thank you so much for all of this helpful information.”

Thank you for your review and congrats on pregnancy #2! πŸ’œ

Parents get so much "advice" on what to do and what not to do when it comes to baby sleep. Kim West, author and sleep coach, takes a gentle baby-led approach to creating sleep habits that will guide you and your family on your sleep journey.

[1:51] I’m excited to have Kim West here with me talking about newborn sleep! We talk about what happens during pregnancy to prepare you for caring for a newborn and also what to expect during postpartum. 😴

[2:15] Kim West is a mother of 2, licensed family therapist for 30 years, she was dubbed “The Sleep Lady”, a former sleep training coach, and she now applies her gentle approach to newborn sleep. She is also an author of two books. πŸ“š

[3:16] What does having a “gentle approach” to sleep coaching mean? Kim shares her experience with her first daughter. The only resource she had was Dr. Ferber’s book, which uses methods like putting babies in the crib drowsy but awake, leaving the room, and letting them cry. She wasn’t convinced that it made any sense as a family therapist who promoted secure family attachment. πŸ€”

[5:15] Since newborns don’t have the skills to “self soothe,” she wanted to be there to reassure them and do less and less as the babies grow and develop more skills. She offered physical and verbal reassurance. She guides parents in their journey and gives support and strategies to implement. πŸ’•

[7:08] I’m giving Kim another name, and it’s “The Sleep Doula.” A doula comes alongside parents and objectively gives assurance. “You’re doing a great job” goes such a long way. This gentle approach to sleep training combines the heart and mind in the approach to sleep. πŸ₯°

[8:14] It’s okay to say “I don’t know if that makes sense for me, or for my baby, at this moment.” We have so many sources of information out there. We have to empower ourselves to listen to our intuition! You can learn things and they make sense in your mind, but you also want to listen to your heart or your intuition! 🀱🏼

[9:17] How does this method and approach differ from Book #1 and Book #2? Kim talks about her first book: The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight, was meant for parents of children 6 months to 6 years old. She saw a need for creating a resource for parents for those first few weeks of life for their baby! Her next book, How to Sleep Train Your Baby or Child without Letting Them Cry It Out Alone, was geared towards 0-5 month olds. πŸ‘ΆπŸ»

[11:28] You don’t have to let your baby cry it out! However, if you did, and it worked out and went well, don’t feel guilty! 😭 This is for the parents who don’t want to do the cry it out method or for those who tried and it’s not working! You are not a failure. 

[12:56] I talk about my experience with my first born and how the crying it out method went for me. 😞 It was a realization for me as a mom that I needed to do what was best for my baby . . . and for me! 

[14:40] Just because you don’t do the cry it out method, it does not mean you will never sleep again! 😩

[15:00] Kim talks about how trauma can affect moms and babies. This is such an important part of the puzzle to look at. What you consider trauma can be different from another mom’s. But that doesn’t make it any less valid. Kim talks about how important support is during the postpartum time. 🀝

[19:12] When you’re pregnant, it’s all about the mother. When your baby is born, it’s all about the baby. Kim emphasizes the importance of focusing on BOTH baby and mom. Support is key! ❀️

[20:13] Let’s talk about bringing a baby home! What are some of the best tips for those first few months? Have realistic expectations. The first three months should be the fourth trimester for the family: focus on healing, nutrition, and bonding in a calm environment. 😌

[22:21] Our brain changes when we have a baby. Not just because of the hormonal and physical changes, but your brain also makes it harder for us to multitask. 🧠 It’s on purpose! This is so you zero in and focus on your baby. Remember that your baby’s brain is in an extremely primitive state. They don’t know how to process what is right in front of them. We all learn better in a calm, regulated environment. 

[24:42] Focus on feeding. 🍼 That is your #1 priority! Your priority for sleep during those first few months is focusing on avoiding day/night confusion. Our internal clock tells us when to be asleep and when to be awake. With our babies, that internal clock is not developed for several months. We have to be their external clock. Work on a bedtime routine. 

[27:23] Have a daytime routine and during the day, wake your babies so they don’t miss a feeding. Give the message of eating more during the day. Save the long stretches of sleep for the night time. Open the shades and windows so the baby will start to associate it’s daytime. β˜€οΈ

[28:55] Kim calls her approach “baby led.” What does that mean? Relying on the baby giving you cues and signs. The book is set up by months, but she wants parents to think of babies in stages since developmental stages are so different for each baby. The baby is leading the way and parents are assisting them. As their skills increase, parents can do less and less. 🚼

[30:48] The things we need to consider in order to assess, improve, and set the stage for great sleep is the acronym FAST: Feeding, Attachment, Soothing, and Temperament. When your baby starts crying, Kim encourages parents to SOAR: Stop Observe Assess Respond. πŸ—’οΈ

[34:06] Temperament is a big factor when it comes to baby sleep! It usually doesn’t manifest itself completely until around 4 months. Depending on their temperament, it will affect how much stimulation they can handle, how fast you can move in sleep shaping, and even when you need to start. πŸ™‚πŸ™ƒ

[36:14] In every section of Kim’s books, she has a self-care section for mom! She wants to get back to focusing on mom and baby as a unit in the fourth trimester. Instead of just focusing on the baby, Kim wants mom to focus on herself as well because the baby is affected by where you’re at mentally, emotionally, physically. πŸ‘©πŸ»

[39:39] Co-sleeping and bed sharing . . . how do these affect sleep? There are some babies that it doesn’t work well for, you don’t like it, your partner doesn’t like it, etc. You’ve got to find that balance and what works best for your baby! 60% of parents co-sleep in the first year of their baby's life. πŸ›Œ

[44:30] Kim’s book is coming out March 21st! It’s called The Sleep Lady's Gentle Newborn Sleep Guide. You can get bonuses if you go onto her website and sign up! πŸ“–

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ALL the best,


Links Mentioned:

My Essential Birth Course

My Essential Birth Instagram

Sleep Lady's Guide: Elements of Baby-Led Sleep Shaping

Kim West's Social Media


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