Sometimes I will get a critical e-mail (occasionally hate mail) in my Inbox saying that sleep training is selfish. This tends to get me riled up a bit. While I’m sure there are cases of some parents sleep training out of pure selfishness, the majority of families we speak with EVERY DAY only want the very best for their baby and families. Sleep deprivation is not a form of torture for nothing. It is effective in making even the most put-together human being unravel at the mere thought of being woken up just one. more. time. This checklist is for you to determine whether you are selfish in sleep training.
Instructions: Mark “yes” or “no” next to each item.
1. My baby is happier when he’s had enough sleep.
2. My baby is more alert and engaging, eager to learn, when she’s had enough sleep.
3. My toddler is better behaved when he’s had enough sleep.
4. My toddler is less clumsy after a good night’s rest.
5. My baby or toddler and I have a lot more fun and can go out to activities when she’s had a good nap.
6. The evening or dinnertime is so much more pleasant when my child has napped well that day.
7. I am a better mom (or dad) when I haven’t been woken up numerous times at night.
8. All I feel like doing is falling asleep on the floor with my baby during the day, when I’ve been woken up all night.
9. I have more energy to take my baby out to activities when I’ve gotten enough sleep.
10. I laugh with my baby more when I’ve gotten
enough some sleep.
11. All the little jobs taking care of a baby feel so much more mundane and/or tedious when my baby wakes up all night.
12. Sometimes I feel like I resent my baby.
13. I am starting to feel depressed about my baby’s sleep problems or my abilities as a mother/father.
14. I want to scream right along with my baby when he doesn’t sleep.
15. I have raised my voice at my baby, because he won’t sleep.
16. I feel like I’m going to lose it if I’m woken up again tonight.
17. I worry about my baby’s growth and development without adequate sleep.
18. I worry my baby will have sleep problems in adulthood, if I can’t do a good job right now.
19. I feel like I would love having a baby even more if we were both sleeping.
20. I love my baby beyond words and would never do anything to intentionally hurt him or her. I know what’s best for my baby and this is not it. I love my baby and care for my baby to the best of my abilities all day and every day.
If you said “Yes!” or agreed to more than 5 items, you are most likely NOT selfish in sleep training your baby.
Note: This is meant to be a light-hearted look at this topic and in no way has been sanctioned by a licensed psychologist. Only you know if you’re being selfish or not in sleep training your baby. Only you know your most inner thoughts and feelings on the matter. And, sometimes, you may only think you’re being selfish, because being a mom is a guilt-provoking job. That’s what we do: worry and doubt.
A part of my personal story is this: My son was MISERABLE without sleep and still is to this day. He’s now 6 years old. His mood and behavior are worse without adequate sleep, too, including in school. I could not sit back and see the misery on my baby’s face every day when he was a baby. I did not feel like that was being a good mom. I had to do something about it. Add to that, I was miserable too. I was depressed not being able to see my husband, going to bed at 7pm every night to “help” my son sleep, yet still being woken up ALL. NIGHT. LONG. I was not able to be the best mom I could be. Actually, I was not able to be the mom I wanted to be. I would fall asleep on the floor in the toy room for goodness sakes! I don’t care if people think I was selfish to teach him how to sleep better. I know better. It was not for the cushy lifestyle, so I could party at night or anything of that nature. It was not only the most important thing I had to do for our family’s well being, but our happiness, too. It could not be better to grow up in an unhappy home absent of sleep training merely to avoid it, could it?
Would I do it again, if my son was happy being sleep-deprived? I’m honestly not sure. All I know is what we lived every day and it wasn’t right. I can’t tell you what you live every day and know if it’s right for you. What’s one family’s end of the rope is different from another family’s and I always pray people will seek help before the end of the rope. I am in awe when I work with a family of a 2 year old still getting up numerous times a night. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but they have and I couldn’t. That doesn’t make me less of a person. That just makes me a different person.
So, do you feel selfish in sleep training?
If you’re looking for ways to to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.