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What really is Holistic Sleep Coaching?

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

Not sure what the difference is between general sleep training and gentle holistic sleep coaching is? Read on for some in-site and advice...

Our busy lives

Our infants really are sleeping, pretty much the same as they did thousands of years ago, the BIG difference is how drastically our lives have changed and how parenting has adapted over the years.

We are living in a very fast paced environment, full of pressures, time is definitely not on our side and the overload of information about everything online is, let’s be honest, stressful!!

There is so much technology bombardment in our lives that was meant to make life easier, but has made it more confusing. Parents are truly aware of the importance of love, attachment, bonding, nutrition, stress management, and quality time in our families. We are living with having to work and parental guilt is real, parents doing everything we can to fit it all in and then falling into a trap of neglecting our own self-care.

All of the above means that many of us parents are feeling very confused, overwhelmed, tired, and frustrated. Even with all the new support systems out there, we feel less supported than ever in our chaotic lives. In the early days, we have lost our ‘village’, meaning the cultural support new parents used to have from the community has pretty much depleted over time and now we are trying to do too much with not enough hands.

It is so hard to cope with sleep deprivation and life as a new parent, right?

Although our children are not born with sleep issues and we do not need to teach our infants how to sleep because it is a natural biological process. Parents coping abilities and support varies greatly, so too does their attitude to sleep and all that goes along with it. Normal infant behaviour might be extremely difficult for some parents to manage and cope with, there are many factors that influence this. Parent’s may have researched intensively into solutions that don’t fit with their parenting style, they may be too exhausted to take anything in or they may just not have the support to feel like they have time to focus.

Let’s list some of the kind meaning advice we hear, ‘sleep when baby sleeps’, ‘don’t worry about the mess’, or ‘ask for help when you need it’. This is all so thoughtful and useful advice, but they are just not manageable in some cases, certainly not on a regular basis and just don’t work for some. The pressure parents are under if they decide to choose to avail of support is immense, so many different strategies, books, consultant’s and information that there is such a vast difference between. In many cases, it is so difficult to choose the right one for their situation and make an informed decision on who to trust in the industry.

Sieving through the chaos

We all love an easy way out, ‘quick fixes’ and scaremongering is unfortunately so common in the sleep industry. "Your baby should sleep through the night by…", "I guarantee 12 hours sleep with this program","babies will be developmentally damaged if you don’t sleep train." This is all scaremongering and poor information, not based on evidence and not based on modern research into the affect of what choices we make have on our children and affect of stresses they are exposed to. Strict schedules and quick fixes, like leaving children to cry alone, may work for a short time and sometimes not at all for many, but is this really how we would like to help our babies? These strategies don’t meet their normal needs for physical, emotional, and psychological support and they are stressful to parent and child.

Quick wins are noted in the gentle, holistic approach too but they are win wins on both sides, minus the guilt and stress.

The Holistic approach

Holistic sleep coaching looks at family sleep as a big puzzle, many pieces to fit and each piece shaped differently to the rest. It highlights that babies sleep patterns are usually completely normal and supports the individual needs of each family and each person within the family.

Holistic takes into account all the families background information that affects the sleep situation.

· Age and developmental stage of the children and siblings.

· Support networks, mental and emotional health.

· Background affects of nutrition, relationships with food and allergies.

· Overall health, activity levels, sleep hygiene.

· Over-tiredness, circadian rhythm and sleep biology.

In many cases, if all of these factors are assessed and areas that need support or changes are fulfilled, positive changes in sleep can be seen quickly, without the need for any sleep techniques.

Holistic sleep coaching supports and nurtures the parental bond, responsive parenting and normalises situations. Our approach builds a parent’s confidence in their abilities, allowing them to be more calm, confident and consistent in their parenting, while having a better overall understanding of their child’s needs, their own needs and how they can fulfil these needs in their individual, unique situations.

There should be no one size fits all or set schedules in Holistic gentle coaching, any plans or suggestions should be entirely individual to your own family and situation. All strategies should be picked by the parents with guidance, because we are the experts on our own children. Implementations should be taken at the child’s pace and should never involve leaving your child to cry alone for any period at all.

Choosing the right Sleep Coach for you and your family

Let’s be honest, change is tough, persistence is hard to stick to and children are very intelligent, challenging and know how to push our buttons. Holistic Sleep Coaches cannot guarantee it will be plain sailing, they cannot guarantee there wont be protest but they should be able to guarantee that any advice and support will be based around being respectful and gentle to you and your children.

If you are unsure, ask questions based around seeing if the care is individualised, whether you will have to leave your child to cry alone or whether there will be strict timings set on any strategies, this will give you an idea of whether this coach is truly holistic and gentle.

Go with your gut, you are the expert on your child, trust your instincts and try not to focus too much on how popular a sleep coach is on Facebook or Instagram and more on what their true values and aims are.

Find someone who really meets with your values

and don’t settle for any less!!!

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