You've probably heard of "sleep trainers" and "sleep coaches"... but what exactly is an Infant Sleep Educator?
Infant Sleep Educators (ISEs) are trained and certified sleep coaches with up-to-date knowledge on infant & family sleep, brain development, relationships, and mental health. ISEs are experts in the art of infant sleep techniques, navigating individual family needs, and supporting families.
We offer parents a gentle alternative to Sleep Training - using a Developmental approach (working WITH your baby), instead of a Behaviorist approach (modifying your baby’s behaviors).
Many of the “sleep experts” writing books & blogs today are basing their information on their opinions and/or personal experiences - not on biological norms or neuroscience research. We debunk the misinformation, and give you the FACTS!
ISEs help families get to more rest, both physically and emotionally. We teach parents about biologically normal sleep patterns, and help to create a personalized sleep plan that works for the whole family. We also provide emergency sleep support, and community resources.
So - what is the difference between an Infant Sleep Educator (ISE) and a Sleep Trainer?
Sleep training is based on a harmful science called behaviorism, which has the potential to put your child’s mental health at risk. Sleep trainers teach your baby to stop crying out for you; not necessarily to get more sleep. Night wakings are NORMAL and healthy; and you can still find ways to get better sleep without leaving your baby to “cry it out”.
ISEs use a developmental approach; focusing on what is normal, healthy, and optimal sleep for infants and toddlers. Night wakings are healthy and normal, and help to reduce SIDS. Our approach is in line with AAP recommendations to room share for the first year. Sleep Educators help you to find the underlying causes of your frustrations, and work to help you find a remedy.
Sleep Trainers follow a Behaviorist approach, focusing on adjusting your baby's behaviors in order to reduce night wakings. Sleep Trainers believe that babies must "learn" to fall asleep on their own by "self-soothing"; which often involves crying or controlled crying techniques.
VIEWS ON BABIES -
ISEs view babies as human beings at their most vulnerable; and we often have parents base their decisions while looking through the eyes of their child. How would you wish to be treated if you relied on a caregiver in order to self-soothe? (This ability does not develop until the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex have developed, which happens around 3 years of age.)
Sleep Trainers believe that babies can be taught to self-soothe, and that given the appropriate conditions, they can learn to self-regulate. They feel that babies should need little to no assistance at night once these skills are learned.
WHAT YOU GET -
ISEs offer a custom Sleep Strategy for your family, outlining your goals, areas of opportunity, and a variety of holistic solutions for your family to implement together.
Sleep Trainers offer a Sleep Training Plan which gives instructions on how to reduce comfort and nighttime parenting so that your baby can eventually go to sleep without being offered any parental comfort.
IMPACT ON LIFESTYLE -
ISEs coach families to find balance in their lives; babies bring a major shift into a family's dynamics! We help parents to find time to pursue their interests, spend time with each other, and to be well in their mind, body, and soul. This can absolutely be done WITHOUT ignoring a baby's nighttime needs!
Sleep Trainers coach families to follow a Sleep Training Plan - getting babies used to their routine and nursery, and changing the family's schedule (which often means being at home for nap times and bedtimes every day.) This often includes putting big life changes and travel plans on hold, unless they are willing to re-train their baby after their routine has been interrupted.
RESULTS TO EXPECT -
ISEs know that many efforts to change sleep habits fail because parents can be set up with unrealistic expectations. ISES are trained to affect change where it makes the greatest impact - beginning with the parents.
Sleep Trainers often use "cry-it-out" or controlled crying methods to reduce wakings; although a 2014 study found that these were successful in just 14% of cases. (This also depends on your definition of "success", what happens when baby hits their next developmental milestone, and how many times the sleep training had to be repeated in the first year.)
Learn more about Holistic Sleep Strategies HERE!