My name is Karen van Zetten and I am a trained and certified gentle sleep coach for babies and toddlers.
I have a 1.5 year old daughter, Isabelle. The first three months after birth were very intense as Isabelle was crying a lot. We, as brand new parents without experience, obviously didn’t know what to do and thought that this was normal. “You just have an awake and alert baby” I can’t count the times how often we heard that. The weeks passed and the black circles under our eyes became bigger and bigger. In addition to crying, Isabelle also started to have many sleep problems. We tried everything to calm her down and get her to sleep; baby carrier, stroller, feeding, singing, holding hands, you name it. She often slept only 3x half an hour during the day and she was clearly very tired. And the nights, not much better unfortunately. Once she was 9 months old we were so sleep deprived that it was clear to us that this is not normal and we had to change something.
We started reading several books about sleep training, but nothing worked out and we just didn’t want to let our girl cry it out. That just broke our heart. So after some more research on the internet we ended up with a sleep coach. A gentle method without letting your child cry alone. That sounded good. If only we had done this before!
This method helped us to find a good sleep rhythm, to let our daughter sleep in her own bed in her own room and after a few days even sleep through the night.
I was so impressed by this method that I decided that I wanted to do this for myself. It’s just wonderful to be able to help families get their well deserved sleep back.
The Gentle Sleep Coach Program is the first and most extensive professional sleep coach training and certification program available. The program involves over 80 hours of training with a faculty panel that includes 2 medical doctors, a psychologist, an attorney, lactation counselor, postpartum doulas and a family therapist. Each coach must pass an exam and participate in case supervision with Kim West, LCSW-C (a.k.a. “the Sleep Lady”) who has been helping tired parents for over 20 years. Clinical supervision and ongoing advanced training are required to maintain certification as a Gentle Sleep Coach.
Some of my training topics included:
– Basic counseling and child development
– Sleep science and behavioral modification techniques to help parents of children age 0 to 6 years old.
– Secure attachment theory
– Support for the breastfeeding mother
The GSC Program also includes an exclusive advanced training specifically focused on how to gently work with babies 0-5 months of age. Some of the curriculum training topics include:
- In-depth knowledge of the importance of attachment and infant mental health
- The sleep science behind the first six months of life
- What special considerations need to be taken when working with and supporting families during this delicate period.
- Specialized instruction on how to evaluate families in the first six months
- Guidance on how to assess when the baby is ready for sleep coaching based on current research and evidence-based strategies
Review of gentle sleep solutions and strategies that are developmentally appropriate, breastfeeding and attachment friendly and promote a solid foundation for sleep learning and long-term healthy sleep patterns.
This specialty training is designed to give Gentle Sleep Coaches the knowledge, education and all the tools and resources they need to successfully work with families of newborns through 5 months of age in a safe, healthy and developmentally appropriate manner.
Top Outside Specialists within the Gentle Sleep Coach Programme
Dr. Shoshana Bennett, author and leading specialist on Postpartum Depression. www.drshosh.com/
GERD and Sleep (Reflux)
Dr. Anthony Loizides, pediatric gastroenterologist (Reflux) Childrens hospital Montefiore in New York.
Medical Conditions and Sleep Apnea in Children
by Dr. Lewis Kass, Director of Children’s Sleep Center in Mount Kisco NY.
Sensory processing Issues
Lindsey Biel, OTR/L, pediatric occupational therapist with a private practice in New York City. She is co-author of the award-winning Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues.