When we find out that we are pregnant we are overjoyed and elated by the idea of bringing a new life into the world. From that moment forward we do everything in our power to protect the little human being that is growing inside of us. As the time goes by the list of sacrifices grows: our body, our personal time and very often our sleep! It is all a part of motherhood and fatherhood, and for many they don’t give it a second thought.
So when parents contact me to help sleep coach their baby because they need sleep, I completely understand. As a mom of two boys sometimes I feel that I need just as much, if not more sleep than them, just so that I can keep up!
Is it selfish of me to want and need more sleep?
Often during the consultation the question will come up, “Is it selfish of me to want and need more sleep?” Or “I’m so excited to get started, but I feel guilty!” As parents it is ingrained in our being that we need to sacrifice for our children. So we feel guilty about wanting to coach our babies to a better night’s sleep because then we too will get some sleep. If you have had these thoughts, you are not alone!
So why does sleep coaching feel so selfish and leave us with a feeling of guilt? The biggest reason is probably because most of us end up sleep coaching out of our own debilitating exhaustion. While some parents begin the process solely based on their baby’s needs, for many of us it is a combination of the baby not getting much sleep and so we aren’t either!
Science tells us that as adults if we get the appropriate number of hours of sleep per day (that’s 8 uninterrupted hours a night!) it aids in learning and memory, metabolism and weight control, reducing irritability and impatience, increasing our ability to concentrate, and aids in the strengthening of our immune system. Bottom line is we need sleep! Many of us function on fragmented sleep and significant amounts of sleep loss during the first few months (or years) of our child’s life, but we shouldn’t have to let it go on forever.
Our Babies Need Sleep
All the science and thought for our own well-being is great, but realistically that’s probably not the primary reason that parent’s sleep coach. We know that our babies need sleep just as much as we do, but do we really have to coach them into the process? Will they not outgrow the nighttime wake-ups? Won’t they just figure it out?
Sleep is a learned skill. Sleep skills are not something that babies are born with, rather it is a learned skill that we as parents need to teach our children. Just as we teach our children to eat, walk and use a potty!
Many parents become accustomed to their children’s sleep patterns and routines, but that doesn’t mean that they are healthy or conducive to quality sleep. We all agree sleep is important and the proof is living with a well-rested, well-napped baby. There is also a significant difference in the lives of mom and dad when all the children sleep well at night.
So does sleep coaching your child make you a selfish parent? Ultimately, no. There are many reasons that parents explore sleep coaching for their child and often their own well-being isn’t the first reason on the list. However, if coaching your child results in you being able to take better care of yourself, is that really so bad? It will probably result in you being a better parent, and that doesn’t seem so selfish.
If you feel desperate to solve your baby or toddler’s sleep problems don’t let guilt stop you! Sleep coaching can be one of the best decision you make for your family. It will take time and patience but the end result is irreplaceable. Your baby will be better rested and often that means your family will be well-rested. If you need help with the process, ask for it! As a certified Gentle Sleep Coach® I am trained to help tired parents like you and guide you to your own Family Bliss.
I am a mom to twin boys and wife to an amazing husband. I am a certified Gentle Sleep Coach ® and founder of Family Bliss. My journey into the world of infant and child sleep was directly related to my family and the value we put on successful sleep. Believe me, it wasn’t easy, but we did it! I am a firm believer in the power of sleep leading to a happier and healthier family.
I hold a science degree from the University of Waterloo and I am certified as a Clinical Research Associate from McMaster University. For over a decade I have worked in various aspects of the healthcare industry in Canada.
When my boys were born I was in the same situation as many first time parents, experiencing the unbelievable joys of being a parent, soaking in all the amazing newborn moments and marveling in the fact that I could love two little people so much! But as the months went on and we created a schedule to our new lives I started to feel the effects of being sleep deprived and desperate for some sleep! More so I wanted to put my babies to sleep without rocking them for what felt like all night.
After extensive research, I came upon the teachings of Kim West, LCSW-C (a.k.a. the Sleep Lady). I was able to coach my babies to sleep through the night and encourage them to take the naps that they deserved during the day. After endless conversations with other parents about sleep, I realized I could help. I decided to take my awareness, research and knowledge and put it to good use in helping other parents who were sleep deprived and struggling with similar sleep issues.