Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Tresillian's top tips

Tresillian is a remarkable place, unique to Australia and so popular, the queue to get in is longer than a James Bond Premier in Leicester Square. It's a "sleep-clinic" of sorts, for newborn babies through to toddlers of 24months. It exists as the Royal Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies, and is part-hospital, part-"parenthood"-university. You get 24hr assistance with your child and advice/support regarding how best to put your baby to sleep, as well as individual counselling and group therapy sessions. After my four nights in the clinic, here are my key take-outs, based on conversations I had with nursing staff and from what I observed whilst there.

(1) Save Our Sleep and other such sleep doctrines, are not for all please, do not presume that what cracked your child's sleep patterns will crack mine. Well done you for finding something that works for you. But don't be arrogant enough to presume that a baby's sleeping behaviour is a "one size fits all" scenario.

(2) Early developers and hyperalert newborns are usually the ones who have difficulty sleeping. It's one of the only common threads that bind Tresillian babies. So don't beat yourself up over something that might not be within your control; if your baby was the type who had head control from the moment they popped into the world, you'll know what I'm talking about.

(3) Control crying usually doesn't work in children older than 12 months. By this time, your bubba will have developed very strong sleep associations. These associations give your child a sense of control and order in their world. A sense of comfort and security. Suddenly stopping their normal 'routine' (no matter how infuriating it is to you) can be incredibly distressing for everyone - including the neighbours, because at this point your kid could part traffic with the sound of his scream! So go slowly. Ease into your new routine. Stay with them while they fall asleep for their first night... The nurses at Tresillian advised that Baby Love was a good starting point for starting new sleep patterns.

(4) Find some patience. I have none of it personally. And it sucks that I need it. But I am going to have to find some from somewhere (behind the couch?) if I want this new routine to work. And you'll have to do the same. In the words of Rachel Hunter, "it won't happen overnight, but it will happen."  

(5) Close the milk bar at 6 months. You can stop breast/bottle feeding babies from 6months of age. They are physically advanced enough to cope without a nighttime feed (obviously, speak to a doctor before you do this incase your child has special considerations). The longer you leave it past this age, the more of a battle it becomes to stop the feeding. Think about it: if you were being offered a warm bottle of chocolate milk every night, even when you were drowsy, you certainly wouldn't refuse it would you? In fact, you'd be getting quite used to the sugar rush at a certain time and would start to wake for that chocolate milk, wouldn't you? Your baby, and your boob/bottle, is no different.

(6) There is no "one way" to send your child to sleep. This was, without doubt, the most frustrating part of my Tresillian stay. One nurse would send Frankie to sleep by sitting on a chair outside her bedroom and repeatedly Shushing her until she eventually fell asleep (this took forever). Another nurse sat in the room with Frankie and patted her, and calmly told her to "lie down". She then crept out the door, shushing the whole way, until she finally exited the room. This too, took forever. The third nurse simply picked Frankie up, plonked her on her tummy, and told her to "Lie down. Go to bed" in a forceful, and commanding tone. She then walked to the door and every time Frankie cried out or made a move to stand up, the nurse would (quite aggressively) shush her and once again tell her to lie down as she plonked her down on the bed. This was the most effective method for Frankie. But I'll be buggered if it has worked for me since I got home! The learning from all this is that you have to work at different strategies until you find the one that works best for you. Frankie is sleeping 2 hrs during the day (ish), and 10hrs straight at night. Something seems to have work, which proves the point that TRESILLIAN WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS...........

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