View Full Version : Is sleep school a gentle approach?
My lovely 6-month old boy started waking up to 12 times a night after his 4-month immunisations, and although I've made some progress since then getting him to break the cycle and sleep a bit longer, he's still waking up to 8 times some nights, and we're almost at our wits' end with exhaustion! He's a very cheerful boy, rarely cries, has wonderful naps during the day on a good regular schedule (3 naps of 1-2.5 hours each), and we have a good evening routine which indicates to him it's night, and he's goes to bed pretty well without protest most of the time. I'm trying to put him into bed awake so he learns to go to sleep on his own, but this doesn't happen all the time.
My issue is that he is not sleeping for long blocks of time overnight, and I'm struggling to know how to encourage this. He used to sleep for 4 hours when I first put him down, and then be more unsettled after midnight, but now he's typically waking after 1.5-2 hours, or even less, all night.
I'm not picking him up every time, just trying to reassure him it's time to sleep and let him settle off to sleep again. I'm anti-crying, so am trying gentle approaches.
I am getting a bit of pressure from people around me to go to sleep school, as my partner is insanely exhausted and having trouble at work, and I'm beside myself. My reluctance with sleep school is that I would ideally like to teach him to sleep in the safety and security of his own familiar surroundings. It feels sort of unfair to take him to somewhere unfamiliar and yet expect him to learn a new skill of sleeping through the night without my intervention, when he's probably not feeling particularly relaxed because he's aware he's not at home.
Does anyone have any sleep school recommendations or experiences that might help me work out whether it's for us? Can they recommend anywhere? I have had recommendations of the O'Connell centre in Melbourne. Wondering if anyone has similar thoughts about sleep school. Many people have said 'it's the best thing they ever did' etc, but I'm still uncertain -- as much as I would like to feel sane and at least partly slept again!
Thanks so much!
Most tend to use controlled crying type techniques in varying degrees...
:hugs: :hugs: Have you had a look at Pinky McKays techniques? Worked wonders for us :yes:
I'm sure it depends which sleep school you go to as to whether they use a gentle approach or not. We went to the Ellen Barron Clinic in Brisbane, and while DS (11 months at the time) was left to cry for a while, he was never allowed to become hysterical. I wouldn't say that its an easy thing to do, but it is definitely worth it.
Here is the story of our experience
Hope that helps a bit :)
I also went to the Ellen Barron centre when bub was 5 months old.
It was very supportive, but we didnt do anything that I had not already read about and could not have done at home. I guess I was hoping that the experts had something new to offer.
But it came down to 'controlled comforting'. And if it is necessary, I am prepared to do that, but like you think it is better to do it in your own home.
Long story short, I spend my time at Ellen Barron resolving feeding issues, but left sleeping issues for home.
Thanks very much for your replies. I will keep trying with teaching him to self-settle. It is encouraging to hear that it can really work.
I hope things are continuing to improve for you. I just wanted to add that I took my DD to the O'Connell Centre when she was 8 months old as she had never been a good sleeper (day or night) and we were all seriously sleep deprived. It worked really well and I wish I'd gone sooner. They didn't use controlled crying and were very supportive. The only issue was the wait list was really long at the time. I was desperate and they had a cancellation so we managed to get in sooner.
Initially I was concerned that there was no improvement but after about a week of following their advice it was like we had a completely different girl. She was sleeping much better and was much happier throughout the day.
Good luck with whatever you decide I know how hard it can be for you and your partner.
Thanks very much for that. I actually made the initial call to the O'Connell centre about 6 weeks ago and am still waiting for the call back...It's good to know that you found it a positive experience though. Thanks
Hopefully you have made it into O'connell by now.
But i can tell you from first hand experience that it is a wonderful and supportive place to help both you and your little one learn a personalised approach to settling/sleeping.
I too was really hesistant to take DD out of her home and especially to a sleep school, but was desperate after many months of sleepless day/nights and pacing the house.
Its really hard work (we did the 4 night stay) and you have to be willing to listen and try their suggestions. Dont worry, they never force you to do anything that you are not comfotable with and review every step of the sleep/settle process with you daily.
The end result for us (2 weeks after coming home) is a child that now sleeps 10 -12 hours a night and 2-3 hours a day.
She can resettle herself most times and our house has had a huge cloud of stress lifted.
Their approach is to work with you to tailor a full 24 hour approach to suit you and your child. They encourage and empower tired and anxious parents to tune in to your child's needs/cues and find an age appropriate routine to restore a semblance of normaility to your home.
I would recommend them to those who are not into controlled crying/comforting etc.
Good luck and hopefully many sleep filled nights ahead for you :sleeping:
Most of them do, yes...
THanks so much lisaho. That's really encouraging. I'm still waiting to speak to someone at the O'Connell (they called back this morning but I missed the call!!), and I'm still not that keen on going to do the residential thing, but your experience makes me feel encouraged that perhaps it would be okay. We need something to change in this household to restore our sanity and some semblance of a life, so perhaps we'll have to resort to that if things don't change soon.
Many thanks for taking the time to respond.
Sleep school did wonders for us. My little guy was waking every 40 minutes over night and only going to sleep after about 30 minutes of intensive rocking, patting, shushing etc.
Through the day he would sleep for 20 minutes twice.
I finally gave in at 8 months and went to QE2 (we were in ACT at the time)... they were awesome. They listened to what I wanted and we went with a minimal cry approach- I would only let him cry for a minute or two and then settle him until he was calm and then leave again. He knew I was thre, but also started to learn that he didn't need me to get to sleep. It was so hard, but the best thing I found was having someone there helping me to interpret his cries, up until then everything sounded like an upset/ distressed cry. I was so tired by the time I got there that it was just nice to have someone do all the cooking etc for me too :) I just got to spend all of my time and energy focusing on teaching DS how to sleep.
It took about 2 months but now he self settles and sleeps for about 2 hours twice a day. He still usually wakes about 2-3 times overnight, but nothign like how it used to be.
I would call them up before hand and ask them what apporach they use. I think they changed the method soon after we went to QQE2 to something even gentler... From what I ahve heard the "camping out" method is in use at quite a few places now and seems to be effective.
Hope you find some help. Sleep deprivation is awful :)
Have you read the No Cry Sleep Solution?
This might be a good first step before you go to sleep school. Sleep schools do use 'controlled crying' which is just CIO. Reading this book will help you figure out a 24 hr plan, and will highlight the reality of sleep. Are you nursing? Is your DS close by, or at the other end of the house? Are you keeping a solid night routine?
Also, 3 naps of 1-2.5 hrs during the day is on the high side. You might want to try working down to 2 naps a day instead. If your LO takes 3 naps (1 hr, 1.5 hrs, 2.5 hrs) that = 5 hrs of naps. When is that last nap? How long is it for? A late, long nap could really muck up night sleep for a 6 mth old.
Anyway, I hope you find some rest :)
I have now been home for a week since attending the Ellen Barron Family Centre. The very fact that I can even sit here and type this email is testimony to the positive effect the Centre has had on our family.
Our 13mth old daughter has slept terribly since she was about 5 mths. She co-slept with me, woke all the time (5-12+ times a night) and used me as a dummy. She would not fall asleep unless she was on the breast at any time. Basically she did not know how to self settle. I was totally exhausted (in hindsight I was even more exhausted than I realised) and pretty difficult to live with!
I have always been totally against controlled crying and really any method that meant my daughter cried. I have always comforted my daughter and have felt this has led to a very positive relationship. I was really hesitant about attending the centre as so many posts are really negative about what they do. I was seriously unable to cope any longer and decided that everything else I had tried had not been effective. I was pretty convinced that I would leave on the 1st night, but I thought I would give it a chance.
On arrival the staff were lovely and supportive. They take the time to explain everything to you. There are 4 settling techniques to choose from, though at 13 months only 2 were really appropriate for our daughter. In the end I decided to go with the the controlled comfort and combined this with hands on occasion. Controlled comfort is NOT controlled crying. Absolutely it involves crying (sometimes a lot), but you comfort your child when they need it. My daughter never once got hysterical. It was really hard the first two nights. But after the first two nights I started to notice a big difference. Our daughter was actually one of the most determined and still has not slept through. But she only wakes once, she sleeps in her own room, she self settles and I have not slept so well in over a year. The difference is huge!
I cannot say enough positive things about the staff at the Ellen Barron Centre. It has truly changed my life. A bit of a run day on the centre:
the rooms are nice (though the beds are small and bring your own pillow and maybe towel)
the staff are lovely, they are there for you with a helping hand and an ear to listen whenever you need it
most people notice a massive difference within a couple days, most babies were sleeping through by the second day. The older the child the longer it seemed to take.
everyone looked so much happier and relaxed by the last day
the playroom and the outdoor play room are great, I am pretty sure my daughter still misses it!
the food is pretty bad, take snacks!
bring an open mind!
It only took me a few days to get in. I went to my child health nurse and she was great. I think it was more obvious to her than me that I was not coping very well.
If you genuinely need help with helping your child sleep I would highly recommend the Ellen Barron Centre.
A bit of a late reply, but sleep school for DD and it worked wonders!
We went to the Mother/Baby Unit at Mitcham Private Hospital. They use the controlled comforting approach in conjunction with your comfort levels. Within one hour of us getting there DD was asleep and slept for 3.5 hours! This from a 4 mo who wouldn't sleep during the day.
They also looked at types of wraps etc to see what works to help DD settle.
All methods are readily duplicated at home. Yes, the two nights at home were a little unsettled but 9 times out of 10 she goes to bed without a problem. And she now sleeps during the day.
I can highly recommend it. They say it is a 2-3 week wait to get in, but they examine each situation on a case by case basis and can fast track you in.
ETA: our issues were not sleeping during day and feeding to sleep. Both no longer happen :)
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