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Thread: Sleep Schools - do they really work? Bit desperate...

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Ma hoos

    Default Sleep Schools - do they really work? Bit desperate...

    Ok, bit of background - DS1, who's 3, doesn't sleep through the night, never has, and possibly never will. If DH goes in to settle him through the night they just end up arguing, as DS1 doesn't want anyone but me. So inevitably, I'm the one the gets up to settle and/or stop the argument. DS1 will sleep beautifully if I am sleeping next to him, although this is a recent development over the last 6 months or so, mostly my own fault, because with being pg and then with a newborn, I have found it impossible to stay awake, so end up falling asleep whenever I am lying down, bit of a vicious circle really. Anyway, we don't expect that we'd be able to "fix" DS1, we are now just waiting for him to grow out of it..

    DS2 arrived nearly 5 months ago. For a few weeks, maybe 10, it looked like I was going to get a better sleeper 2nd time around. 7pm-3am seemed to be his thing, and it was good . But it's all gone pearshaped. He will not sleep in his cot overnight, we've tried lights on, music on, sitting beside him for ages, everything we can think of, but it all comes back to the only way to get him to sleep is for me to hold him. All night. But then he snacks. All night. So I'm awake/dozing for more than I'm actually getting any kind of sleep. DH does a little better, cos I spend time on the couch when we've had a particularly rough few nights, just so he can catch up a little bit. But really, between the 2 boys, I'm lucky if I get any more than a 2 hour uninterrupted stretch in any night. And I'm usually up for the day come 5-5.30am.

    So, I'm pretty much over it. I cope during the day (mostly), but I have no patience, particularly with DS1, and I just hate the way that I have flashes of real anger at him - it's not how I want to parent, and I think that it's purely from lack of sleep. During the night is worse - I haven't lost it completely yet, but I'm at the point that I'm worried that I will.

    Anyway, I guess the whole point of this ramble is to ask if anyone's been to any of the sleep schools, and whether it actually works - cos at this point in time, I just can't see how they can break the cycle in 5 days. I'm at the point where I almost don't care if it's controlled crying they use, as long as I don't have to hear the tears & the misery, I think I would do almost anything to get a nights sleep. As would DH. I'll probably chose between Mitcham or Masada, cos I have a better chance of getting in to their programs in a reasonable time frame, my understanding of the public ones is that it can be months of waiting, which I just don't think I can face.
    So yeah - any stories (good or bad) would be appreciated

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne.


    hi bhoys girl, sleep deprivation is the absolute worst isn't it?
    i do have some friends that did the Mitcham program and swear by it. they definitely do use 'controlled crying' there though, so just be aware that that is their method.
    i have heard that the one at koo wee rup is suppossed to be the 'gentlest' of the melb sleep schools. have you heard anything about that one?

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Middle Victoria


    I don't have any advice, but just wanted to say i hope you find some help that works for you and the boys.

    I only have one non-sleeper and that is tough enough.

    take care,


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Funky Town, Vic


    I did a sleep school and it didn't work. However I will say that DS has turned out to be a sensory child so there was more going on that we realised.

    It might not break the cycle in 5 days but may give you a headstart and support.

    GL, it's a killer xoxoxo

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    On the other side of this screen!!!


    Yep, I did a week of sleep school in the ACT, they use a 'controlled comforting' technique which is quite different to out and out controlled crying. I was hanging on to my sanity but a very thin thread, and I had got to the point where I was occasionally hallucinating I was so sleep deprived. They took DD and cared for her in their nursery on the first night so I could sleep which by itself was a life-saver. They were very supportive and the technique was a guideline which they tweaked according to the actual family and their preferences. By the time we went home DD was settling in under half and hour and only waking 2-3 times a night, but by following their technque consistently, that was down to about 10-15 min by ten days later, and by then she was only getting up 1-2 times, and she started sleeping through on occasion shortly after that.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2008


    My sister has just been to sleep school. Her DS was sleeping in 3 hr blocks before, now he's sleeping 12 hrs every night. She said it was amazing.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    summer street


    Sleep school is sleep training, and success seems to depend on the relative stubborness of the child versus your determination (or capacity to follow through the techniques).

    I only know a few people who used sleep school (tresillian) and general reports were it is pretty traumatic and with varying results (one girl I know has 'failed' sleep school three times at almost 2).
    Would you consider cosleeping with both kids? You might start getting longer stretches.

    I was so sleep deprived by 8 months I weeped over anything. I tried sleep training early on, but you have to consistent and strong and tbh often the desperation for sleep would make me 'give in'. My dd is a particularly stubborn child though and we clash over many things. The moment I gave in and put her in my bed I started feeling human again and more like the mother I wanted to be.

    I know sleep school sounds like a magic bullet, but ime there is no one solution to sleep issues. You need more support to help deal with your toddler and maybe sleeps in the day. That and cosleeping will get you through the next few months, but obviously it brings it's own challenges.

    Hth. I am worried about the new bub being as wakeful as dd, because I really struggled there for a while.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Soon to be sunny BRISVEGAS!!!!!


    I did Tresillian here in NSW and despite arguments from pro and against I was so exhausted I gave it a go. Yep V cried a bit yep I felt a bit bad and yep Im informed either way.... Yep she is a waaaay better sleeper and a happier baby and everyone has commented it has spilled into so many areas of her life that she is such a pleasure now and pleasures in life. This has not just stopped me going crazy but it has improved both of out quality of life. Hope this helps Id be happy to chat about our experience to you Good luck.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    oh dear, that sounds like torture. I have one non sleeper and it must be so so hard to have two of them.

    I went to the day program at the O'Connell centre (this is a public one, it is in camberwell or around that area) when my boy was around 10 months. To be honest I hated it and didn't find it particularly helpful. Actually it was kind of helpful because it convinced me I would just stick with co sleeping. BUT i know a couple of people who did the five day program there and they found it very helpful. For the day program you mostly just work with one staff member and the woman I had was not great, but during the longer program you would get to work with a number of people I guess and I think some of the staff are really nice and supportive (the woman I spoke to on the phone seemed like this). They say they don't use controlled crying but I think their methods probably result in a fair bit of crying, depending on your particular kids I guess.

    There is a long waiting list but I think if you are desperate it might be possible to get in more quickly - when you ring they take your name and it can take a while for someone to call back but then they do a phone interview and I think if they felt that you were really struggling they would try to get you sooner.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    to you. I haven't done sleep school, but I can see the desperation which would lead you to want to try it. I was getting about 1-2 hours sleep straight and some nights only a total of around 4... well, that was more often than not. I would sit on my bed with Elijah BFing in the middle of the night just crying cos I really wanted to sleep and not sit there and hold him I don't know what changed but he just stopped one night and slept for about 5/6 hours straight... oh bliss. He still wakes at night sometimes but not like he used to, so like I said, I can see why you'd want to try that. Elijah still sleeps next to me, in his cot. When he wakes up I find his hand and hold it and stroke the back of it with my thumb, this seems to help him, he seems to need to know he's no alone. Early morning if he wakes, he hops into bed with me and has BF and most times will roll over and go back to sleep in bed with me. Like I said, I don't know what changed, I didn't do anything but I was ready to move out by myself!! and I hope things change for you.

  11. #11


    We went through Mitcham and found it really helpful when DS was 8 mths old. From what I understand it is now a four night stay (it was 5 when I went) where you get to sleep the first 2 nights and then you settle the other two. If you need to they can let you stay longer. They use different plans depending on the age of the baby.

    Depending on the age of the baby they either roomed in with you or had their own room which the nurses could watch via a tv screen what sleep behaviours they were engaging in so for example DS couldn't stay still and needed to learn how to stop to go to sleep. All the nurses were fantastic and it was wonderful having the support of someone else making suggestions of what you could try next no matter whether it was day or the middle of night. I don't feel like I was pushed into doing anything I wasn't happy with. I was concerned with leaving DS to cry as it wasn't the approach I wanted to take. I wouldn't say they use cry it out methods the way I understand cry it out to be. It was all about providing minimal intervention so the baby has a chance to learn how to go to sleep on their own. But each time you go in stepping up what you do so teaching them the skills to eventually do it on their own. A nurse will stand outside the door with you and help you decide what to do next. A range of techniques from verbal cues, music, patting, rocking, and wrapping are used. You do leave the room to give them the chance to go off to sleep on their own so there will be crying but the nurses were helpful in helping me hear the differences in cries and when to go back in vs when it sounded like they were just winding down.

    I'd love to say when we left there everything was fixed but it wasn't. However we had some big improvements like getting an earlier bedtime from 10pm to 7pm, getting regular day sleeps going which meant I got some more breaks, stopping overnight feeding, getting into a good daily routine and he was a less cranky baby due to getting more sleep. It was also great to get some sleep behind me to give me the energy to continue on when we got home. I think there is also just a developmental component to sleeping as DS didn't start sleeping through regularly until 18mths. However the other gains were worth the sleep school stay. I know sleep school isn't for everyone but were really struggling as a family and this really helped us get out of the hole we were in.

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    South Gippsland


    Hugs hun,

    Up until a month ago I was nursing DD all through her dap naps as she just would not sleep in her cot through the day since she was 3 months old. I was so exhausted from nursing an 8+ kg baby for up to 2 hours per nap that I think I have caused damage to muscles as I still keep losing feeling in my fingers. We have DD booked into the Koo Wee Rup Sleep school in september, it was a long wait list BUT the woman gave me some really good advice to try in the meantime. For us DD was a good night sleeper, partly due to the fact that we still wrapped her tight, I know I know its bad I know everyone tells me she shouldn't still be wrapped but she needs it to sleep. So the woman told me to wrap her the same for her day sleeps as we do for her night sleep. I also manage (sometimes) to slip the dummy in, in place of my nipple. Doesn't always work DD HATES the dummy but sometimes i can get it in without much protest and she happily comfort sucks back to sleep then I can pop her down. I am not sure if you use a dummy but maybe if you wait until bubby is relatively sleepy and just comfort sucking you can swap boob for dummy? I also still rock for a little bit afterwards before very very gently popping her in bed. Anyway just an idea.
    Best of luck x x

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Jan 2006


    I don't know about sleep schools, sorry, but I'm just wondering if perhaps DS2 is going through the 4-month sleep regression thingo? Maybe it would be easier to wait that out - cosleep or whatever to get through - then tackle DS1?

  14. #14
    Gigi's Avatar
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    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    The Festival State


    we went to sleep school at 19 months old.

    i was so sleep deprived i was ready to try ANYTHING, even CC (which i am opposed to). that's how bad things got.

    One night, at the sleep school, i discovered the babies in the nurseries (100 metres away from where i slept) were NOT being monitored. So when they cried, they were left to cry. My DD was going thru the "toxic teething poos" at the time - which i had informed the staff about. So each time she pooed, she would scream in pain, and needed to be changed IMMED. One night i walked past her room, (me going to the loo) and heard her screaming - i went in to her, got yelled at by the staff, even when i explained the toxic poo thing, they had me convinced i was being stupid, but something in my gut, made me check her nappy and yep, her poor bottom had the burn marks from the toxic teething poo she had just done. Despite me being vindicated in checking her, i still got a huge dressing down from the entire staff.

    We came out of two weeks of sleep school very traumatised. both of us.
    The sleep school pressured me to wean my child when she wasn't ready.
    They were very "do what you're told", had ZERO interest in how she was being brought up. No respect for the parents, just DO WHAT WE SAY.

    i was really shocked at how the place was run.

    At the start, to get a few nights sleep, was bliss. i did feel great.
    But when i found out, i got that sleep, and NO ONE was watching out for my child, when she needed help, i no longer slept well, instead i was constantly worrying about her.

    So after hearing lots of stories, i think it really depends on where you go.
    If the staff respect parents
    If they choose to work WITH you, rather than AGAINST you
    If they actually monitor the babies and attend to them, whilst in the nursery (not just turn the volume down on the monitors and forget them).

    SLeep school made my child clingy. it took me months to calm her down.

    in her own time, she went to sleeping five hours at night. sleep school didn't do it, she did it. cold comfort to you i know.

    i have no experience of TWO children not sleeping.

    i do think young children need company when they sleep, for comfort. Is it possible to get your partner to sleep with the baby for some of the night? Have a tshirt of yours in the bed, so your bub can smell you, even thought you're not there.

    Is your older child in any kind of childcare?

    When i look back on it, i'm amazed i managed to drive a car, whilst so sleep deprived. I wish i had automated many things too (food shopping, banking, bill paying) to greatly reduce errands and time spent in the car. To leave more time to sleep when baby is asleep.

    Some people can catnap, but i can't. If you CAN sleep for the half hour, hour that baby sleeps, that is something.

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