Posted by: Sue | 2009/01/20


Sleep training

Dear Dr,

Please assist with sleep training. My LO is 12months old now. She suffered from very bad reflux as a baby which only recently subsided and she currently has no more reflux symptoms at all. As a result of the reflux, we always held her upright, mostly over our shoulders, for at least 15 minutes after she had her bottle, in which time she always fell asleep and we put her down in her cot. Now that the reflux is a thing of the past, so is sleep. She also suffered with separation anxiety, which is much better, but she still has it “ mildly” . We now struggle to get her to go to sleep for anything between 60 and 90 minutes a night. She’ s been in a perfect routine since 8 weeks. Currently dinner is 17:30, bath at 19:00 and then a bottle and bed. We do not over stimulate her after dinner, usually having a walk or reading books. I tried sleep training last week, where I put her down and leave the room, going in only after 1 min crying, and extending it every minute. But, as soon as I put her down in her cot, she gets a 2nd breath. She immediately sits up, then pulls herself up and is up to mischief, trying to pull her sheet off the mattress, standing up, and trying to get out of the cot. She eventually ends up bumping her head against the cot somehow, and then sleep training is stuffed. If she is really super tired and not trying to find her way out of the cot, she screams hysterically, eventually not being able to breathe. I am sure she’ s tired when going to bed, and she only has 1 –  2 naps during the day. One early morning for 60 –  90 min and mostly one in the afternoon between 2 &  3, never more than an hour. I tried moving her bedtime 30 min later, feeding earlier, feeding later, giving her a “ comfort blankie” , putting her down half drowsy etc. The only thing really working at the moment is pacing up and down the room with a 11kg toddler over my shoulder for at least an hour. Although, I must admit that recently she falls asleep mostly by herself when she wakes up during the night. I usually had to get up and comfort her or give her a dummy or bottle. I’ m at wits end, as pacing the room with her for 90 min is quite a bit exhausting. She just had her 12month check up with her paed last Monday, and is perfectly healthy –  he suggested the 1 min interval sleep training. Please, any advice is much appreciated.


Expert's Reply



The issue here is whether your baby's reflux is indeed a thing of the past.She has not responded in the slightest way to all your efforts to get her to sleep. She sounds as if she still has acid reflux which is painful and typically keeps babies awake. Her behaviour suggests that she still needs to stay on medication such as Losec to stop acid reflux.Refux often goes on for as long as 18 months in many babies.

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user comments


Posted by: Avi | 2009/01/20

Oh, you poor thing - I really sympathise - I' m in the same position, except my boy is still a little lighter (only 8 months) :) It all sounds so familiar!

I' ve been stressing about all of this for so long that I decided to take a new tactic. Now I don' t get worked up as he' s spending hours going down. I try to see it as extra time spent with him, instead of " me time"  taken away. I try to keep calm, and just do the walk, as it' s the only thing that helps. I know it doesn' t solve the problem, but it has made me feel a lot happier about the situation. And since I started my calm routine, he' s been taking a shorter and shorter period to fall asleep.

I' ve tried sleep training and it breaks my heart. A hysterical baby who knocks their head against the cot (mine does it too, or scratches his face) is not my idea of a way to start the night. Each to their own, but I' d rather see this stage out the long way, even if it is harder.

Hope something I' ve said helps, even if it' s just knowing there are others out there in the same boat :) Good luck! If you find a solution, do tell...

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