Hello! My name is Erin Anderson, The Sleepytime Teacher, and I am a certified Gentle Sleep Coach based in Blacksburg, VA. I have been in practice since June 2012 and have helped countless tired families get the rest they so desperately need. As a mother and former sleep-deprived parent myself, I understand how exhausting, frustrating and overwhelming it can be to have a child that isn’t sleeping well. Therefore, it is my goal to give parents the guidance and support needed to help their children become better sleepers-without having to “cry-it-out”! Here’s how my journey of becoming a Gentle Sleep Coach all began:
Like many first time expectant moms, I had read all the books, attended birthing classes and purchased all the “necessary” baby items in preparation for our first son. I was ready…or so I thought! Shortly after bringing our new son home, he started having a hard time sleeping. However, in all the books I’d read and all the classes I’d taken, no one had ever mentioned how difficult it can be to get your baby to sleep. Even my friends who also had newborns at home did not indicate they were struggling with getting their babies to sleep.
I felt that somehow I had failed as a parent and began to feel very frustrated, exhausted and alone. We tried everything to get him to sleep and it seemed the only thing that worked was to hold or rock our son as he slept. Although he ended up having an allergy issue that was diagnosed and treated by our pediatrician, by then we had created so many sleep crutches that we continued to struggle with his sleep. As he continued to grow (and get heavier!) we had to sleep on the floor in his room and eventually lay down with him until he was asleep when he was a toddler. I remember knowing exactly which boards in the floor creaked and was ever so careful not to step on one for fear of waking him up!
So, when our second son was born, we thought we were really ready! We foolishly thought since we had the “difficult” baby the first time around, surely our second one would be easier! Wrong!
We struggled with some of the same sleep challenges with our second son and again, I was feeling exhausted and alone. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Kim West’s Gentle Sleep Coach training program, did I begin to see the light at the end of my sleepless tunnel! After completing the Gentle Sleep Coach certification program and implementing the proven, gentle strategies I’d learned, we were finally able to put our then 4 year old to bed without any trouble!
So, as a certified Gentle Sleep Coach and former sleep-deprived mom, I understand how exhausted you are and what it would mean to feel more rested and have more time and energy in your day. I am passionate about helping tired families find their way to a better night’s sleep and give them the courage and guidance to take the first step. There is hope but if you are so exhausted that you can’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel…let me hold the light for you.
The Gentle Sleep Coach Program is the first and most extensive professional sleep coaching certification program available. The program involves over 80 hours of training, an exam and participation in case supervision with Kim West, LCSW-C (a.k.a. “the Sleep Lady”) who has been helping tired parents for over 17 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
•Secure attachment theory
•Support for the breastfeeding mother
The training also consisted of lectures from top specialists, including:
•Postpartum Depression from Dr. Shoshana Bennett, author and leading specialist on Postpartum Depression
•Medical Conditions and Sleep Apnea in Children led by Dr. Lewis Kass, Director of Children’s Sleep Center
•Sensory Processing Disorders and Sleep by Jodi Jennings, OTLR
The GSC Program also includes an exclusive advanced training series directly centered around how to gently work with babies 4 and 5 months of age. This program which I have also completed consists of over 40 hours of instruction and mentorship.
Some of the curriculum training topics include:
-In depth knowledge of the delicate nature of infants under 6 months of age and how to consider all elements of their well-being.
-Current evidence based guidelines and instruction on how to evaluate the 4-6 month old child and family and determine if the child is ready for sleep coaching.
-Gentle sleep solutions and strategies that are effective and developmentally appropriate for the younger baby.
This specialty training is designed to give coaches the knowledge, education and all the tools and resources they need to successfully work with families of babies 4-6 months of age in a safe, healthy and developmentally appropriate manner.
Prior to becoming a certified Gentle Sleep Coach, I was an elementary school teacher for 11 years. I received a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Development/Early Childhood Education from Virginia Tech and a Master’s degree as a Reading Specialist from Radford University. In addition to my certification as a Gentle Sleep Coach, I am a member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants. I also hold a certificate in Infant Mental Health through the Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP) and have successfully completed the Infant and Mental Health and Development Foundation Program through the Wonder Weeks Academy. I also currently hold valid postgraduate professional teaching license in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where my well-rested family and I reside.