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Sleep Schools (Early Parenting Centres)- members experiences (positive, negative or neutral)

9 replies to this topic

#1 lucky 2

Posted 03 June 2014 - 11:06 AM


A thread has been suggested where members can share their experiences with Early Parenting Centres (more commonly known as "Sleep Schools").
This is a space for the full range of experiences, be they neutral, negative or positive.
Please keep in mind the EB Forum Rules in regards to avoiding identifying or commenting on any specific health professional or care provider.

Kind regards,

lucky 2 (on behalf of Shellby)

#2 Ellen101

Posted 05 June 2014 - 09:51 PM

One for the neutral camp :)

We recently attended a private Melbourne mother baby unit and having done so feel that that whether your experience will positive, negative or neutral will depend not only on the unit you attend, their philosophy, approach etc but also you and your baby. As such the below is not intended to sway anyone either way but might highlight some things to consider (which we hadn't heading in) and prepare yourself for.

I think the first step is being comfortable with the unit you are attending as they aren't all the same. For us attending this particular unit was a well researched decision, it was recommended by people whose judgement we trusted, we had positive initial dealings with them at an initial day session and genuinely went in open minded and not expecting any miracles etc.

Various factors that contributed to our experience being mixed however included:

* there is a bit of one size fits all approach eg expecting certain sleep durations or feeding patterns. For some mums this seemed to add to the stress they were experiencing, others were better able to view any improvement as a good thing and not let it worry them as much.

* the sheer noise of the place - odd I know but between usual hospital noises and the cries / "protests" of all the babies there is very little down or quiet time. For us this meant we were getting less rest than if we were at home and generally felt pretty strained. Obviously they will be noisy places but the set up of the cots and bedrooms can exacerbate this if as in this unit, they are in a hub.

* the staff change a number of times a day and handover can be mixed eg in our case bub does not respond well to certain forms of settling however each new shift would invariably use these approaches to try and settle her which only seemed to result in more distress. Associated with this you encounter a range of views and approaches which can result in inconsistent approaches and information. It can also make it seems as if there is a lack of continuity in terms of tackling the issues you are dealing with.

* they sometimes use techniques you can't easily replicate at home eg rocking the cot.

* our baby reacted badly. For her it seemed to be too much to have a new environment, new (and numerous) people settling her and new settling approaches. By contrast we have been following the same approach at home with much better results.

* personally we found it very difficult to balance the need to let the staff have the space to try out their techniques with the knowledge we have of our baby. Eg at times I felt bub was hungry / gassy but they thought it was tiredness and persisted with re/settling - such attempts were rarely successful and the fact our baby was so upset made it difficult to clearly distinguish between the different types of cries like we normally would. It can also be really difficult to intervene / interject generally as the bubs here were in a separate cot room and the nurses often shut themselves in there so you can't really see what is going on etc. This can make you feel a bit useless / powerless.

On the more positive side of things we did learn some new techniques and ideas and in a strange way it actually gave us confidence in our ability to respond to and parent our baby in a way we feel comfortable with. The staff were generally lovely, they certainly don't do any controlled crying and instead actively prompted parents to head in if they think the baby needs assistance etc. The fact of the matter is they do cry, so brace yourself for this, it's a bit like uncontrolled crying at times!

Having been there I can see why it is a beneficial experience for some families, there were certainly babies making great progress  and families getting information and support they desperately needed. It's not for everyone though. If we had our time again I think a day session or an inhouse visit would have been better options for us.

#3 Muffintop

Posted 05 June 2014 - 10:22 PM

Neutral again I think.

We attended a public family centre for a day stay but ended up getting admitted for the week when they realised how depressed I was. I am very glad they did as I was in a pretty bad way and I didn't really realise at the time - just feeling like I was getting some help made a real difference.

We did see some changes for the better, but it was a very stressful week. They didn't use controlled crying but there was a lot of crying from both of us.  I found that nurses weren't always available when I needed to settle bub and the techniques that they used tended to vary. Some of our issues were never resolved (bub continued to be a catnapper for months afterwards) but we did manage to get an earlier bedtime established which helped our sanity.

I did find the staff mostly very supportive and learned some techniques that helped once we came out. On the other hand I was more tired at the end of the week than at the start and I'm lucky that I had a supportive DH who was involved throughout.

Hope this is helpful

#4 silverbubble

Posted 27 July 2014 - 10:12 PM

Amazing, positive results. Have attended two different melbourne MBUs. Happy to give feedback if you want to pm me :)
Sleep school is life changing!

#5 libbylu

Posted 27 July 2014 - 10:28 PM

Positive - I attended a day stay program at a Melbourne public centre. I wasn't all that impressed with nurses and took what I wanted from their advice (they were both a little odd, and against co-sleeping), but it gave me the confidence to act and do some sleep training with DS when I was ready.  I realised after that day that I wasn't ready at that point (he was 6 months old) and waited two more months before I did the sleep training ('Responsive Settling'). The regime they outlined worked really well and I was able to train him to sleep in his cot (rather than my arms) in two days without too much crying. I modified it to my own wishes (I didn't leave him but stayed and patted him til he was asleep at first) and he learned to self settle within a week.  He regressed some months later after a serious illness and after he was well recovered I went through the process again and it was successful after one day. I think they offer an invaluable service to desperate sleep deprived mothers and am very grateful for their help.

#6 BeakyHoneyButt

Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:00 AM

These replies are great.
I have a couple of questions.. Hopefully someone can answer.
What is the criteria like to be admitted publicly ?

Im not keen on going to sleep school, and some of these posts make me think it would not be good for us. And if your baby sleeps well in the day.. A day stay would be pointless?

Would it be possible to follow a program at home? Or is it so full on that the nurses extra sets of hands really important?

... A little bit of back story ;) dd is 14 months old and wakes every two hours and is breastfed back to sleep each time she wakes. Ideally id like to night wean, but it seems impossible. She sleeps beautifully in the day. No problems there.

#7 RockLobster

Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:59 AM

View PostFERALfoxgirls, on 17 August 2014 - 08:00 AM, said:

These replies are great.
I have a couple of questions.. Hopefully someone can answer.
What is the criteria like to be admitted publicly ?

Not sure exactly, but when I went, I had a referral from my community nurse to a public provider. I had seen her a couple of times and explained what was happening with DD and then I asked her for a referral.

We went to 2x day stays, then were referred to the residential unit. It was the best thing we could have done. Because we were staying for the week and food was provided, we had no worries about cooking, housework, etc, and could just focus on DD. When she slept, we could too, without feeling guilty about the other things we 'should' have been doing. When we came home we actually felt more refreshed and rested than we had in months.

I think it taught DH and I lots of different techniques for settling DD. Not all of them work every time, but it's like having a 'toolbox' of ideas, and you bring them out one by one to see which one will work that particular day.

Also, the nurses identified that DD possibly had reflux, which we hadn't realised (we were clueless first-time parents!), so when we got home we got a script for Zantac from our doctor, and she started to improve even more.

I will never ever forget the first time I got DD to sleep after we got home from sleep school. We put her in the cot awake, and left her alone. Checked on her a few minutes later and she was asleep. I did the biggest (silent) happy dance ever.

When the day-stay nurse offered to refer us to the residential unit, I was reluctant, because I didn't want to take the spot of someone who needed help more. The nurse was so lovely and said to me 'If other people need help, they get it. You need help too. Let us help you'. I loved her for that.

#8 Charli73

Posted 18 August 2014 - 10:13 AM

I was in a public melbourne sleep school last week.
It was ok, I has a clear goal of making DD sleep in her own bed and that was reached but I wouldn't say it was because of the staff, they kind of left me to do it myself and made suggestions sometimes. DD is 2 and did all the hard work.

We were in the toddler part but I can see how mums with young bubs under might benefit more than I did..

I have been to Mitcham private also and they were fantastic..

Edited by Charli73, 18 August 2014 - 10:15 AM.

#9 Natttmumm

Posted 18 August 2014 - 10:29 AM

We went to Tresillian in Sydney quite some time ago.

Overall I felt it was a positive experience and I am really glad that I went with baby number 1 at 6 mths. It didnt help me and her so much but did for number 2 and 3 - both have been decent sleeps due to the methods I learn (not the crying part)

Positives for me  - a got a rest, got to see other babies the same age and meet parents in the same boat (non-sleeping bubs), learnt about how to establish a routine, i felt less anxious and stressed after leaving there.

Negatives - I did feel they let DD cry a fair bit and also the other babies - although she was crying anyway so maybe its not a big deal. I did feel a bit uncomfortable at night as I was far away from her and by the time they called me she had been crying for a while and when I was in the area where she was sleeping I could hear other bubs crying alone.

DD has some medical issues that they didnt not pick up on but I learnt about 6 mths later. The pead that checked her over didnt seem to care about the signs she was showing of CMP intolerance (10 poos per day and FF) and reflux (severe reflux). She also got unwell as soon as we left  - she a nasty bug there - which i heard happens a lot but no worse than daycare.

DD went from 10 wakes per night to about 3 or so - big improvement but was not a magic fix. Although I know some of the bubs that were there went home sleeping 12 hours at night no wakes

If I were in the same shoes again would I go back?? - probably not, id probaby hire a private person in my own home. But that being said - i have not needed any assistance with my other 2 kids so maybe it helped more than I realise

#10 nup

Posted 21 April 2016 - 06:40 PM

A very strong negative from me on a sleep school that's already named in this thread.

They promoted a responsive model and focused on cues which we were already clear about. We went with a toddler who had never before cried to a point of vomiting. They were very much cry it out despite all claims otherwise. My child was traumatised by it and so was I but I'm an adult so can stand up for myself and cope with the fallout. I wasn't able to stand up for her though and that's the real reason I regret going and strongly caution anyone to be very careful about staying overnight. I was told my child was trying to manipulate us which was total rubbish and I told the trainee nurse what I thought of that. One of the older nurses physically wrestled another mother to attempt to stop her from responding to her child. The one time she stepped in front of me to block me, I told her in no uncertain terms that she was to sit down and not interfere. After a debrief with the psychologist I was informed that staff had been trained otherwise and that clearly more training was needed. This was 2 years ago, not 20. I was appalled and disgusted by what I witnessed. I stayed for 4 nights, the woman who had been assaulted by staff left the next morning. Very clear abuses of power occurring there with some very odd philosophies. Talking with other parents there it seemed to work for some who didn't understand their babies sleep cues, the hard core children who won't sleep regardless of what you try will unlikely get any result. Try an in home sleep consultant first, and some of the schools have day programs which might be worth trying.

Edited by nup, 21 April 2016 - 06:42 PM.

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