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Is Sleep Training Selfish?

3 things to consider before making up your mind about sleep training.

Is Sleep Training Selfish?

Say the term “sleep training” to a parent and brace yourself for an immediate, emotional reaction. Some swear by it (“Sleep training saved my sanity and my marriage!”) while others are squarely against it (“...but sleep training will turn your child into an emotionally-unavailable psychopath.”). There’s very little middle ground on the topic.

If we strip away the drama, sleep training is quite simply the process of teaching your child to fall asleep independently. Full stop. There are many different ways to go about it, depending on the parent’s comfort level and the child’s personality. Some methods produce results more quickly than others, but there’s no “right” approach.

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In my experience, sleep training is often parents’ last resort after trying every trick in the book. And they always have a good reason to do it. It could be that one child’s overnight wake-ups are interfering with her sibling’s sleep. Or that they realize that their exhaustion is interfering with their ability to be good parents (or employees) during the day. Or that their child’s teacher has noted behavioral issues at school that are linked to chronic sleep deprivation.

No matter the reason, there’s a lot of guilt around the decision to sleep train--or even to consider it. That’s normal: no one wants to sleep train their child. But sometimes bad sleep habits have become so deeply-ingrained that the situation calls for a total reset.

So is it selfish to want to fix our child’s sleep problems? Do parents do it because they care only about themselves?

Absolutely not, and if you're stuck in a sleep rut and debating whether or not to sleep train, here's what you need to remember.

1. Sleep training doesn’t harm your child. As far as researchers can determine, sleep training doesn’t have a long-term effect on babies or toddlers. Assuming that you have a loving and responsive relationship with your child during awake hours, you won’t damage the bond between you if you sleep train. She’ll still be happy to see you in the morning. (Also remember that sleep training takes many forms -- it’s not CIO or bust).

2. Our kids’ brains and bodies need lots of sleep in order to thrive. Chronic sleep deprivation negatively affects cognitive and physical development and causes a range of behavioral issues. Unsure whether or not your child is getting enough sleep? Indicators of sleep deprivation include inability to fall asleep quickly at bedtime; waking up still tired from a nap or in the morning; and/or frequent meltdowns in the early evening.

3. Long-term sleep deprivation affects OUR health and ability to parent. Adult bodies are designed to sleep a solid 7-9 hours of sleep per night. We’re not built to live in sleep survival mode for for months--or years. Ignoring this fact can (and usually does) lead to a host of problems, including postpartum depression, poor health, and marital strife. That, in turn, affects mom and dad’s ability to parent and to bond with our babies.

I’m not here to convince you to sleep train. It’s not for everyone. And you should certainly troubleshoot other possibilities first, such as adjusting the nap schedule, trying an earlier bedtime or creating a dark and quiet sleep environment.

But if lack of sleep is creating exhaustion and chaos in your life, don’t feel guilty for deciding to go for it. Ignore the mom guilt: you do what works best for you and your family. Because a well-rested family is a happy one.

Hadley Seward is a certified sleep consultant and founder of Bonne Nuit Baby. Based in France and New York City, she works with exhausted parents around the world to get their kids’ sleep back on track. Meet her + follow her adventures at @hadleyinfrance.

When it comes to registering for baby products, there's one word we love: convertible.

In contrast to items you use for a short period of time, convertible (or multi-use) products are made to grow with your baby… and trust us, that makes them worth their weight in gold.

Convertible items allow you to reap the benefits of your baby registry for years to come—and that's just savvy shopping, mama. Also savvy shopping? Creating your baby registry with Target and enjoying their Year of Benefits registry program for expectant parents. Just by starting your registry, you will get a welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. And Target's newest registry perk, the Year of Exclusive Deals, gives you discounts on essentials for your baby's whole first year when you sign up for Target Circle as well.

If you prioritize value and longevity when creating your registry, here are 10 items you'll love from day one through day 1,000… and beyond!


A crib that can grow through childhood + beyond

Simmons Kids Slumbertime Monterey 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

A crib is a necessity as you plan for life with your baby—you know that already. But what about in a couple of years when they need a toddler bed? Or a few years beyond that when they graduate to a bigger bed? Well, you're in luck: With the right attachments, this bed can be the only one they need until college.

$299.99

A cozy blanket for snuggles + security

Plush Velboa Baby Blanket I Love You - Cloud Island\u2122 White/Black

Blankets have earned their spot on millions upon millions of registries for good reason: They function as stroller covers or play mats during the early days, then become beloved security items in the toddler years.

$14.99

A comfy spot for feeding + stories

Baby Relax Addison Swivel Gliding Recliner

During your first months of motherhood, a comfortable gliding chair will be your second home as you spend time feeding and bonding. As your child grows (and mobility makes those snuggles harder to catch), you'll discover a new love for this cozy spot for stories and bedtime snuggles.

$329.99

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Sealy Cozy Rest Extra Firm Crib and Toddler Mattress

Fun fact: A standard crib and toddler bed actually use the same size mattress. That's why it's smart to get a quality crib mattress right out of the gate: One less thing to change up in a few years!

$59.99

A changing table that doubles as a dresser

Simmons\u00ae Kids Monterey 4 Drawer Dresser with change top

If space is at a premium in your baby's nursery, look for a combination changing table and dresser. That way, you can keep using the dresser long after your little one is potty trained.

$319.99

A car seat that converts to a booster

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

The safest place for your child is in the backseat of your car, in either a car seat or (later) booster. But instead of buying a new seat for each phase, you can check off multiple boxes at once by adding a convertible car seat to your registry.

$159.99

A stroller that accommodates big kids, too

Graco FastAction Jogger LX Stroller

The need for a good stroller doesn't end when your little one learns to walk, so look for a stroller that can accommodate bigger kids, too. We recommend a jogging stroller that allows you to attach an infant car seat and is still perfectly spacious for toddlers.

$146.99

A place to dine for years to come

Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

From first bites to family dinners around the table, one single high chair can be the solution you need. That is, if you look for a version that adapts into a booster seat when your child is ready for a plate at the table.

$99.99

A white noise machine + alarm clock in one

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

After spending months listening to ambient noise in the womb, white noise remains incredibly comforting for your child. It's nice to have a sound machine that can transition to a time-to-rise clock down the line. By cueing with sounds and colors, these clocks reinforce healthy sleep habits.

$59.99

A baby carrier that can haul a toddler, too

Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier

A carrier is a major help when your baby loves being held, but you need use of your hands. But even months or years down the line, you can still get use out of that carrier. To maximize longevity, look for one that can be used with your child facing outward or even carried on your back as they grow.

$29.99

Enjoy building your registry with Target, mama! The Year of Benefits is calling your name with a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more! 😉

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

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