“We had a very, very difficult challenge ahead of us”

Rhône’s parents Megan and Chris had tried it all. Ferber, “Cry-It-Out”, Taking Cara Babies, you name it. Rhône would bang his head against the wall at night, and nothing was working.

What made you join Batelle?

About a year ago we went to our pediatrician and expressed our concern that Rhône was head banging while in his crib. He would wake up with bruises on his forehead. At first, we started down the path of medication but nothing helped. I ended up reading everything I could about headbangers, but it was really hard to find any information (it seemed like there was a big stigma for parents on this topic). When I saw Batelle and the money-back guarantee, I thought “why not, we have nothing to lose”

How did you feel before you started?

We came in with the understanding that we had a very, very difficult challenge ahead of us. We had tried a number of other things – almost every method out there – from the cry-it-out to Ferber, to Taking Cara Babies. Nothing – nothing – was working and we were literally at our wits end. We just didn’t know what to do. We were frustrated and sad and just felt like failures as parents. Batelle gave us hope.

You had a struggle to begin with didn’t you?

The whole process seemed a little odd to us at first when we were told what was going to happen. It’s very difficult to visualize everything until you actually see it! We actually had quite a struggle in Sleep School, while all the other families that were in our group seemed to be having so much success so early on. We ended up having to restart after a week. We just appeared to be at a slower pace as we seemed to have a more difficult challenge. But the team was there for us 100% of the time, even though we had to pretty much start over. We were told “no worries, as long as it takes, we’re here”, which was awesome as it didn’t matter what time of day or night we needed help: we always had support.

“And then the first night that he actually slept through the night we just did a happy dance!”

How did things fall into place?

It was phenomenal – all of a sudden it clicked and we started to see the progress. We would look at each other and say “Is this really happening? Is our child really sleeping four hours or six hours at a time?” It was just mind blowing to us. And then the first night that he actually slept through the night we just did a happy dance!

What did you learn from the experience?

We had to restructure the way that we communicated with Rhône. Instead of sleep being a stressful thing it became more of a happy kind of experience. Instead of forcing him to go to bed, we were able to make it more of a joyful experience. Miss Megan gave us so many good things to try. She even got on and talked to him and he would listen to her. He’s still convinced she turns on the yellow light! Now at bedtime, he runs into bed to get into his Hug when he hears the cues. He can’t wait to go read books and get ready and just snuggle up. It’s not always a dream where he gets in there and five minutes later he’s asleep, but for the most part it is. We’re not fighting anymore, and there is no more head banging. For the last three nights he slept all the way through.

Are you happy with the outcome?

We are totally thrilled! We’ve even talked to our pediatrician about this. I told him if he has any parent that comes in, with any type of sleep issue or – especially if they have a headbanger – please give them Batelle’s information, because it’s life changing. If we had found this a year ago, I would have been a lot less grey!

“We were waking up every hour”

When Cole joined Batelle, he was waking up every ~60 minutes and wanting to be constantly held and bounced back to sleep. He was also still nursing two to three times a night.

What was the state of play before you joined sleep school?

Amy: We weren’t getting much sleep. Ever since Cole’s 4 month birthday, he would wake up 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12 times a night! Clif would take the first half of the night and I would take the second half. Cole would be in his crib for an hour or so but he was just up and down all night long. He was still nursing two to three times a night, which I kept going because I was so tired that I didn’t know what else to do. We were pretty sleep-deprived.

Clif: At the time we joined Batelle, Cole was getting up a minimum of 5-6 times a night. Waking every hour, every 90 minutes on a good night. To try and pre-empt Cole not waking up, Cole would spend his night sleeping on me on a chair.

How did you find Batelle?

Clif: One night Amy took Cole to feed him and do “her shift” of Cole watch. I was a little frustrated and fatigued from trying to work every day, I went down the Google rabbit hole of looking for a sleep solution for an uncooperative baby. To be honest I can’t quite recall how Batelle showed up but I clicked your link. I know one of the things that we were definitely not interested in was any sort of “Cry-It-Out” strategy. We have another child who didn’t sleep well the first time around and we didn’t want to go through it again. We knew we needed some kind of help. Batelle, as luck would have it, was the first thing I looked into. I set up a call at 3:30am my time and two days later we had the consultation call. We decided we had to try it out and see what happened!

Did you have any reservations? And if so, what were they?

Amy: I didn’t know what to expect! I mean, it seemed like a huge promise, particularly after what we had been going through with our first child and now Cole. I’d read basically every sleep book on the planet and nothing seemed to work! At that point I was like “you know, we might as well try it!” 

Clif: My reservation was earlier…. with our first child we had tried a couple of different things but mainly with Batelle I was wondering how it would fit with my work schedule, having to travel, and mainly wondering if this would work in a busy house. We live with my parents also, and the house is crowded! I think we were coming up with excuses as to maybe why it wouldn’t work!

“It’s not easy to describe going from not having slept for 5 months for more than 3 hours and walking around like a zombie to seeing sunlight!”

How was your two-week sleep school journey?

Amy: At the beginning it was tricky. It’s a time commitment initially, and it’s a big learning curve, especially when you are sleep deprived and you can’t process information quickly. It was really nice with all the support you can get. You can just be texting somebody in the middle of the night and you will get a response almost immediately. Without the help, I would not have made it through. The first week, we were getting less sleep to be honest but things slowly started getting better. Every night there was a little bit of progress and now he just sleeps through the night. 

Clif: For Cole, it was on the very last night of the two weeks, was his very first night sleeping the entire night through. I would be looking for things little things he would do better each evening and then on that last night, I think it was like eleven and a half hours, without a peep from him and three and a half weeks later and it’s the same thing! Watching how the other parents were doing was interesting because you saw some children in the third or fourth night sleeping the whole night through and I’d be like “oh my god – let’s go, Cole, let’s go! You’re failing Sleep School!” 

Amy: Cliff was good at focusing on the little things and achievements, every night there would be something better! I wasn’t quite as good! I was getting a little frustrated. I felt maybe I was doing something wrong or maybe I’m just destined to have non-sleeping children. 

However, I trusted Miss Megan and trusted the process and it worked! It just took longer than some of the other children.

What did you find the most challenging part of Sleep School?

Clif: At the beginning, anything that you’ve been doing is going to change and you’re a little timid and not 100% trusting that it’s going to work right out of the gate. Miss Megan said “you’re going to have some parts that get worse before it gets better because you’re changing expectations around sleep” and it’s true. In the context of having an older child that didn’t sleep and after 5 months of getting no sleep, it’s difficult to remain super positive during the first few days. You’re doing all these different things in the first couple of nights. You’re trying to get the information during the nights with the Sleep Guides and you are on the calls during the day – It’s a time commitment for sure but it’s not so much about the time commitment each day that you’re dedicated to studying or anything, it’s that it’s all-encompassing in your head for two weeks. It’s a lot! One of the things that I now hold onto now is talking to friends, and Amy, and being able to say is that it doesn’t quite seem real yet because life is so different from where it was. It’s not easy to describe going from not having slept for 5 months for more than 3 hours and walking around like a zombie to seeing sunlight!

What do you wished you had known sooner?

Clif: Aside from the fact that it worked! And the other elements of sleep school – Why as parents we were doing things, the way we were doing things and how to do things were described in a way that was different to what was found in books. Frankly it worked better than what we had tried to do before. I’ve been pretty vocal about telling everyone and saying “hey – proactively do this”. We run fitness studios and have a lot of parents as clients – one of the main things that parents would talk about is how they were under-slept and how they wish their kids would sleep. I think if more people knew that there was a better way to go about learning how to help their kid sleep; I mean I wish I could go back in time and do it with my first kid.

“Every night was a hostage negotiation”

Bedtime was a struggle for both Erica and her husband, taking up to 2 hours per night to get her to sleep. She would never spend a full night in her own bed, and was co-sleeping in her parents’ bed for most nights. Averi was almost three years old when she joined Sleep School. We interviewed Erica twice during her Sleep School Journey.

How was Averi’s sleep before Sleep School?

Every night was, as I like to call it, a hostage negotiation. We would bring Averi to her bedroom and it would take between one and half to two hours to get her to sleep. Once in her bedroom she would ask for more stories, a sip of water, more food or to go potty. At some point we lost patience and it led to Averi crying and being upset, and bedtime being more difficult. It was like that every night.

How was the situation for you and your husband?

We both work full-time jobs and when we came home, we tried to get dinner and had to face this stressful bedtime every evening. We were both in a bad mood. We had no time to decompress, no time to talk together or even have dinner.

“We look forward to bedtime now! It is easier, predictable and stress-free. It really changed our life for the better”

We are now on Night 7 of Sleep School, how has your journey been so far?

To be honest the first night was stressful. We were not prepared for Averi’s reaction especially in regards to the Hug. She used to be free in our bed, jumping around, and all of a sudden she had to stay in her bed in her Hug. We discussed with the team and figured out what we could do better. And then from night 2, we saw immense progress. Right now, halfway into Sleep School, when it’s bedtime Averi gets in her bed, calm and ready. There is a bit of crying but much less than before, and everything is more structured. I even have to wake her up some mornings, it feels like she likes to sleep now!

Tonight is Night 11, could you tell us how it’s going?

It’s been wonderful. Bedtime now is 10 minutes and we chose it to be this long because we actually enjoy this time with her now. She is very calm, she knows it’s time to go to bed, she gets into her Hug and it takes her between 10 to 30 minutes to fall asleep on her own. She is by herself, stroking her hair or playing with her stuffed animals.

Any reflections on Sleep School?

We wish we found you sooner. I remember thinking to myself when I found you, “Oh my god, maybe this will work. This is our last resort. We just have to do it.” It has changed our life for the better. We now have a predictable, stress-free bedtime with a happy and calm toddler who likes to sleep.