Sleep School – Day 1

I know that on one of the Facebook Mothers’ groups that I frequent, there are always a lot of posts about sleep and some about sleep school. So I thought that I’d write about my time at Masada, and the things I am learning, in the hope that it helps some other sleep deprived mums out there…

A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to make the call to Masada Sleep School (aka The Mother Baby Unit). Except for Frankie’s first 24 hours in this world where she slept like an angel and we felt all smug – like we had a GREAT sleeper – she has been an average sleeper at best. Up until a couple of weeks ago, she only managed chunks of around three hours at night, and would have a LOT of trouble self settling during the day – to the point where taking her on a walk in the pram or putting her in our amazing electric swing were the only ways to get her to sleep. Obviously, since enrolling Frankie in sleep school, she has improved quite a bit – we even had one night where we put her down to bed at 7pm, gave her a dream feed at 11pm, and she slept until 7am – OMG! We thought someone had swapped out Frankie for another baby.

So Frankie turns 3 months this Wednesday, and we checked into Sleep School this morning. I gave Frankie a feed, and then she went down to sleep. As I type, I can her her grizzling / crying, and one of the wonderful nurses  is settling her. And I am trying to block out Frankie’s cries from my mind 😦

Frankie hanging out with her rings during "awake" time.

Frankie hanging out with her rings during “awake” time.

The set up at Masada is this – the ward is in a square shape, with rooms for the mums around the outside, and small rooms with a cot in them around the inside. So Frankie is across the corridor from me – which in itself is a strange thing to get used to as Frankie’s bassinet at home is about 1.5 metres from my side of the bed.

Even thought not much has happened yet today (it’s only lunchtime), I have already learnt a few things:

1. The room Frankie is in is pitch black – when the door is closed, she literally can’t see a thing. One of the nurses said this gives Frankie two choices – she can either stare into darkness or sleep. We hope that Frankie will chose sleep. At home, the room Frankie sleeps in is very dark at night, but quite light during the day (even with the blinds shut). I already suspected this before checking in, but when we get home, I think it’s going to be time to move Frankie into her own room and cover the windows in foil to keep all the light out. Also time to move her into a cot too. Even though Frankie is a noisy sleeper (it’s like sharing the room with a 90 year old man), it’s going to be really strange and sad moving her into her own room. God knows how I’ll cope when she wants to move out of home in a couple of decades…

2. Frankie needs to spend more time awake. At three months, Frankie should be awake for between 1 hour 15 minutes to 1.5 hours at a time (including feeding time). I know that this is probably not “new news” to a lot of mums, but we would always put her straight to sleep when she showed tired signs – such as yawning – which meant sometimes she would wake, I would feed her, she would yawn, and I would put her straight back down to bed (not that she would actually go back to sleep or anything…). So when Frankie wakes up next, I’ll feed her and we will play, play, play until the clock hits 1 hour and 15 mins. The nurses said that by the end of the week, Frankie will definitely be awake enough not to start showing tired signs almost as soon as she wakes.

3. I had heard Masada used controlled crying and that this had put some mums off. So I thought I’d report on what they have used with Frankie (which seems to be much nicer than letting the bub cry out). In a nutshell, Frankie is allowed to grizzle for 10 minutes and then a nurse goes into settle her if she hasn’t calmed down. If this escalates to a cry, then they go in after two minutes. Sometimes I have trouble working out what is a cry and what is a grizzle – am hoping to know the difference well and truly by the week’s end. So far I have learnt that a grizzle sounds like a grumpy cat, whereas a cry is louder and more constant (and heartbreaking to listen to!).

If you happen to be reading this blog, I’d love to hear any comments or questions that you have! I’ll try to post once a day and share as much as I can 🙂

My room at Masada

My room at Masada Sleep School.

22 thoughts on “Sleep School – Day 1

  1. We are currently deciding if we should give this a go, my little one is 4 months and she always wakes after an hour in her day sleeps and sometimes I can settle her back to sleep other times im in and out of her room a number of times.. she also still wakes at 11pm and 3am during the night.. her room is too light during the day but dark of a night.. I look forward to following your post this week..thankyou

    • Hi Stacey, if you are unsure of whether to do sleep school, I would recommend doing it. Even though I am only one day in, I have heard such amazing feedback from other mums whose loves have transformed (literally) and the walls here are plastered with thank you letters from families who have clearly achieved amazing things.

  2. There is also an amazing Midwife in Melbourne, Midwife Cath who is doing a Master Class on the 3rd June on Sleep and Settling. She is fabulous and has helped us greatly with our son.
    I hear there can sometimes be a bit of a wait for the sleep schools, so this could be a great for advice and guidance while anyone is waiting!
    All of the details are on her website, She truly is amazing!
    Good luck with the sleep school, look forward to hearing your experiences.

  3. Hi Stacey,
    We also have a 12 week old. Considered sleep school awhile back due to a tongue tie which had him up and feeding every 2 hours. Tongue tie is fixed (so we cancelled our Masada booking) and although an easy going lad, he wakes 2-3 times to feed at night and currently only sleeps in 1 hour blocks x 4/5 throughout day. I think it’s a funny combination of being hungry and possibly a little demanding (and snacking). That said, he’s easy going and 11th percentile for weight so I agonies over whether to stretch his feeds, as I suspect that drives his somewhat choppy sleep. Will continue to monitor and hope it’s just a phase, otherwise we might return to the lactation consultant and or Masada. Thank you for your valuable insights.

    • Frankie was a snacker like yours (plus Frankie is in the 10-15th percentile), and they say it’s not great for feeding and putting on weight. We are now stretching Frankie to 3 hours plus thanks to Masada. I’d definitely recommend the program here for what you are experiencing as it sounds a bit similar to Frankie’s situation (without the Tongue Tie).

  4. Good on you for making the decision to save yours and your daughters sleep routines, and thanks for offering to share your experiences

    • As far as I can tell, they let the baby wake. They do recommend starting the day between 7-8am, so I would assume that if the baby hasn’t woken by 8am, you would need to wake them. Also – if your baby wakes at 6.30am, they say to start the day then.

  5. When you said maximum nap time being 3 hours does that mean 3 hours per nap or 3 hours in total of napping for the day? Thanks 🙂

  6. Your blog has been an amazing read for me and has given me hope that things can change! Just a quick question though.. What do you do if the pat pat technique fails to get them to sleep during their designated nap time? Do you persist until they sleep or do you give up in getting them to sleep and move to the next block of feed play?

    • Hi Leah, Masada recommended patting for the entire nap (eg 1.5-2 hours) – so yes, persist. And if they don’t sleep, then hopefully they will sleep at their next nap time!

  7. Thank you so much for the blog! SO HELPFUL!
    I’m on day 2 of trying it at home. My little girl was doing 35 minute day naps for a few days straight and I was over it!
    I’m wondering – if you’re leaving them to grizzle for 10 or 20 minutes, and baby has e.g. 1-2 minutes of silence but then starts up again, do you reset the timer ?
    A couple of times she has been grizzling, then sticking her hands in her mouth, quiet for a couple of minutes, then flails about and starts crying/grizzling again, then quietens herself down again. Should I start the clock again?

    Right now, for example, she has been quiet in her cot for about 15 minutes but she isn’t asleep (after perhaps 5 minutes of the constant grizzling), and I can see on the monitor that she’s sucking her hands, and then suddenly she’ll start a little cry, then go quiet again. She did this for half an hour earlier, and worked herself up so I went in.

    We swapped into the angel swaddle yesterday for day 1 to help her learn to self-soothe with her hands which has been helpful, I think. She doesn’t like the shush/pat and lets out terrible screams when I try, but I am persisting because I’ve stopped using her dummy for resettling (as it is only day 2 I still give it to her when I first put her down to sleep to try and start off on a good foot, but the plan is to stop it all together). So it means that when I’m trying to resettle, ultimately I am in there for a few minutes patting away then I walk out and she’s still unsettled. Awful! The dummy has been her only successful soothing prop for the past 3 months (she is 14 weeks) and now I’ve taken it away, the poor thing 😦

    I see that MASADA suggest staying until they’re settled or for 10 minutes, but others suggest only 2 minutes in the room. I haven’t tried patting for 10 minutes… What are your thoughts?

    She is still doing 35 minute sleep cycles/naps but I’m really hoping that by me insisting on the required “cot time” despite spending the second hour trying to settle her, that she will start linking sleep cycles together…. right???

    Thank you!
    PS in the time it has taken me to write this she has fallen asleep, just when I thought she wasn’t settling because it is feed time. Typical!

    • Hi Nora – sorry for the delayed reply! Yes – when the grizzling starts again, the clock starts again. And from memory, Masada did recommend patting for up to 10 minutes (assuming the bub hasn’t settled within that time) and then leaving the room.

      • Hi there! Above you said to pat for the entire nap (1-1.5 hours) if they fail to settle… am I missing a detail? Thank you so much! This has been very helpful!!

      • When you go in to resettle, you would spend up to 10 minutes patting, then leave the room (leave the room earlier if they are calm after only a few minutes of patting). Then if they cry or grizzle again, start the timer and repeat. And repeat…

  8. Hello
    I love this blog! I have a 3 month old who I have been rocking to sleep and will not sleep past 45min until I have tried the pat pat technique- thank you.
    I have booked into Masada and go next week! I’m a little nervous but excited. I was wanting to know a few things so I can try introduce them this week before we go
    – what should a 3 month old sleep in? Arms out or in?
    – can Masada help him sleep through the night even if he hasn’t doubled his body weight?
    – can they help with feeding as I am still feeding 3 hourly and hoping to get to 4 hourly during the day

    Thank you so much for this blog!

    • Hi Emily – that’s great you are going in a week! I wouldn’t worry about making any major changes prior to Masada – they will advise you on what’s best when you get there. And yes, they will definitely help with the feeding routine 🙂

  9. This blog has been so helpful! Thanks so much 🙂 q few questions…
    What sort of routine did Masada suggest as Frankie gets older?
    Also, what happens if they are still crying after the pat pat? Do you leave them and then go back in?
    My little one is the same age and weight percentile as Frankie when she did sleep school. I’ve been following all the advice here and it has worked a treat. She has been going down much easier. Last night however she woke 3 times – 11pm, 1pm and 4am. The 11pm and 4am wake ups seemed more like comfort feeds as she only had small feeds. Any suggestions?

    Again thanks heaps for your posts!!! They seem to have helped a lot of people… myself included.

    • Hi Amanda – from memory, it was two steps forward, one step back. It sounds like you are doing great – just a small, random setback. And in answer to your question what happens if they are still crying after the pat pat – if you have been in their 10 minutes, leave the room, set the timer, and go back in after you have waited the appropriate amount of time.

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