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Houdini and the Supernanny Stay in Bed Technique!

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

Since the Peppa Pig incident, where I was awoken by Peppa Pig being blasted out of the ipod over the monitor, when my daughter had first escaped her cot, it seemed to be all quiet on The Western Front, that was until last week... One hot night last week we left our daughter’s bedroom door open to circulate some air to cool her room down, in addition to the window being open and the fan being on. I was awoken at 1.00am by the sound of my daughter saying, "I climbed out my bed by myself mummy,” so I had to acknowledge it wasn’t just a one off, she could climb out of her cot bed.

My partner, half asleep, led her back to bed and had a few tries to get her to go back to sleep in her own bed, attempting to use Supernanny's Stay in Bed Technique, but she was a bit rusty, so after a few failed attempts, I sent my partner back to bed, as she had to go to work that morning, and I slept on the floor next to our daughters bed (Supernanny would have be having kittens) and I got her back to sleep, but it was a two hour battle of repeatedly lying her back down until sleep claimed her. The sleep deprivation and repetition of lying her down nearly broke me. I had little sleep and I woke up with severe knee pain. My partner didn’t sleep much better. We hoped it was a one off!

However, the following night it happened again, but she was invited into our bed (Supernanny would put us on the naughty step for sure) as we weren’t properly awake and we were both so tired, which on a hot sticky night, was far from ideal, especially as she takes up so much room! I found it difficult to sleep as I couldn’t move through fear of waking her, which caused further pain to my arthritic joints.

We needed to brush up on the technique as not using it correctly would prove ineffective in the long run. We would also need to take the bars off her bed to avoid her hurting herself, there was little point keeping them on when she could climb out.

The next day, we bought a bedrail and converted our daughter’s cot-bed into a toddler’s bed. Hopefully, this would keep her safe.

The following night she went to bed early at 6.30pm, which is unheard of, as she had such a poor night’s sleep and was very tired, however, she was then up two hours later at 8.30pm. This was the first night accurately using Supernanny’s Stay in Bed Technique, we took it in shifts, and each spent an hour and a half camped outside her door for the first shift, plus a further twenty minutes for my partner’s second shift. She then finally succumbed to sleep. It did not look this difficult on Supernanny! I don’t remember it taking any parents nearly four hours to get their children to stay asleep in their own beds. Perhaps it was more challenging as it was the first night our little one spent in her big girl bed and a side rail, it was a change to her surroundings which could have been unsettling? It could also have been an exciting, stimulating experience, as her boundaries had been removed, she was free… During this battle, I watched her on the monitor, it was almost as entertaining as watching the television, she thought the whole sleep thing was a game. I observed her commando crawling out of her bed, kicking her rail off repeatedly, which she thought was hysterical, so we left it off in the end and will tie it to the bed tomorrow, throwing the covers on the floor was also a popular game and even when we left them off, she picked them up, placed them over herself and then threw them on the floor again. I also observed her taking teddies into her bed, playing with them and playing with the monitor. It was a nightmare! During my partner’s first shift, I was desperate for the loo and after an hour of trying to walk and run around the front room to wear the sensation off, I had to relent and use her potty! This was the most action it had ever seen! We both learned that any longer than an hour and a half was our breaking point. So, an hour and a half signalled the end of our shift. However, we did it, she knew we meant business. As if this wasn’t bad enough, she was then up again at 5.00pm! My partner couldn't get her back to sleep so she took her down-stairs. Both of us were shattered for the whole day. I think the change with her bed was too much for her, the feeling of her legs and feet on the cold wall was too stimulating, she also hit her head on it, which wouldn’t have helped to induce sleep.

So, the following night we put up the wall side cot rail, and she seemed more settled. There were no get ups.

This new sleeping pattern was all a bit of a shock to us as she normally sleeps all the way through and almost needs a cold bucket of water thrown over to wake her up in the morning!

However, the following night she was up again at 11.00pm. It took fifteen minutes for her to go back to sleep using this technique. I managed to intercept her quickly which helped. She was again up at 5.00pm, well it was almost 6. I had left the gate undone, and I heard her sliding down the stairs! So, I got up and we watched tv. This gate mistake would not happen again!

The next night was cooler so we were able to shut her door, we hoped that this would keep her in her bed, as she couldn’t open her door, however, apparently she now could, and we saw another 11.00pm wake up. This time I made the fatal mistake of leaving my phone light on to light the way up the stairs, this resulted in making her wide awake. Using the Back to Sleep Technique, I was camped outside her door for an hour and a half. She didn't treat it as a game which was progress. She then slept through which was great. It was a miracle! Praise the Lord!

The following night I was determined there would be no repeat of the torch incident. I made sure I had done all my chores early so I could go to bed early and get more rest, so if she did wake up, I could go to bed straight after, and get more sleep. However, she slept through all night. It was bliss! Heaven! However, it lulled me into a sense of false security.

Unfortunately, there were to be no miracles for quite some time, if at all, as she was awake again at 10.00pm the night after and it took an hour and forty minutes for sleep to win. A nappy change was needed which possibly woke her up and it left her wide awake when I had to change it in a little light. At one point, she was almost asleep, however, the stupid bed rail has a knob on the inside of it, which is dangerous, so she caught her face on this, which again woke her up. I was cursing it! It was at this point I nearly had to ask my partner to take a shift as I was aware I was about to break with sleep deprivation. However, I just about held out and my persistence paid off as she then fell asleep. She then woke up again at 5.00am, so my partner had this shift, she managed to get her back to sleep but only for twenty minutes as she needed another nappy change. She was teething which has possibly contributed, in part to the new sleep issues.

The following day resulted in an earlier bedtime, as she was so tired from the previous night’s lack of sleep, initially she seemed to be quite settled, and although a little restless, she seemed to be going back to sleep. However, the night soon followed the same pattern, and she woke up at 11.00 and 5.00. I realised that she had lost her dummy during the 11.00pm wake up, so I managed to nip down and get another before she escaped her room. When she got up again, I popped this in her mouth. I realised that I should have taken some Calpol up ready for the next wake-up. I would make sure the syringes were pre-filled and taken up ready with a spare dummy each night from now on. This would help to make going back to sleep smooth and seamless, aiding sleep. Meanwhile, the usual battle proceeded, and Supernanny’s technique was used. Again, I had little sleep.

I was armed with pre-filled syringes and a spare dummy the following night, however, there was no 11.00pm waking. I went to sleep about 12.00am. Suddenly, something made me stir so I opened my eyes, everything seemed fine, so I shut them. I then realised that our door was open, which was unusual, my partner doesn’t usually get up and even if she did, she would close it. I looked the monitor I couldn’t see our daughter on it, so I listened but I couldn’t hear anything. Then I heard a noise, I realised that she was in the bedroom somewhere…I grabbled my glasses, phone and as I went to grab the monitor, I saw her on all fours by the door making noises, so I led her back to bed, and followed the technique. I was so out of synch by the change in time and by the change of MO, that I forgot to administer the Calpol. At 5.00am I kicked myself as this would have probably helped her sleep through longer! She didn’t go back to sleep and eventually she started to giggle and mess around so I figured it was time to go downstairs and put the tv on.

That day I spoke to my GP friend to see if she could offer any advice and she advised me to give her Ibuprofen too. So that night I took both that and Calpol up with a spare dummy. There was a 10.00pm waking, regular as clockwork, but she didn’t take too long to go back to sleep. And again, I had forgotten to give her the Calpol and Ibuprofen, however, she woke again at 1.00pm, so I administered the Calpol and Ibuprofen, again, she went back to sleep somewhat quickly. Unfortunately, she then woke up again at just gone 4.00pm. I tried my best to get her back to sleep using the technique, but she then decided that she would start barricading the bedroom door with her body so I couldn’t get into get into her bedroom to get her back into bed, she thought this was hilarious, so I had to make sure I got in there as soon as one foot was out of the bed, this and the sleep deprivation was too much, so I had to wake my partner up to take over. I explained that she needed to get in there quickly to avoid the barricade, however as she is deaf, she didn’t quite hear this. Eventually she had to give up trying to get her to go back to sleep once our daughter started running in and out of the bedroom to give toys to my partner. She was wide awake, so she took her down to watch television.

Due to lack of sleep during the night, the following day she was so tired and grumpy that she fell asleep at lunch time. I spent this time researching what else might have caused this change to her sleep routine and what we could do about it. I found a great blog, Gentle Baby Sleep Consultant | Baby Sleep Made Simple, that explained it was quite common especially at this age and once in a big bed. The blog said perseverance was the key, to keep using the technique, to explain to her why she needed to stay in her bed, what she should do if she needed something and what would happen if she got out of bed, that she would be put back into bed. It also said there should be no fun before 6.00am including the television, as this would just encourage the pattern to continue and it would get earlier and earlier, which it had done the night before. It also suggested an earlier bedtime, as children who are over tired, get up earlier, so going to bed earlier would encourage her to sleep longer. There is also a no screen time rule for two hours before bed, and instead calming activities should be employed. This was a lot of food for thought and of course with a nap during the day, it was not going to be easy to implement these changes and for them to be successful, however, we had to give it a go, as the lack of sleep was affecting me in lots of ways. The housework was piling up and I wasn’t eating very well. It also suggested lots of outside activity, which we do anyway. It was also advised to keep naps to an hour. When it came to waking her up, it was a nightmare. She cried, shouted, hid in places to sleep, including under her trampoline and when she was removed to sit on my lap so she wouldn’t go back to sleep, more crying and shouting proceeded. Eventually I won, but it was distressing.

After discussing my findings with my partner, I made sure dinner was earlier and we followed the techniques discussed. Unfortunately, due to the nap, she wasn’t ready to go to sleep earlier so it took a while for her to drift off. She then woke around 10.00pm and went back to sleep quickly but was up again around 1.00am. I gave her both medicines and she had a bit more of a lie in and was awake at 5.30am this was a little better. We had already discussed that I would do the first wake up and the 5.00am ones would be my partner who is able to sleep earlier than myself. This way I can catch up with some sleep…My partner managed to get her to go back to sleep for twenty minutes. She then needed to change her nappy. The television did not go on until after 6.00am. This was progress.

However, it was then apparent that our daughter had a cold! I couldn’t believe it! This was not going to result in a good day and a good night. Throughout the day there was lots of crying, shouting and throwing, but there was no afternoon nap. Fingers crossed this would help her sleep in the night. She started to fall asleep earlier than intended so we had to take her up to bed earlier than planned, however, with a lot of faffing around it then delayed her going to sleep which was not ideal. I found the Calpol Cold plug-in and the Vicks to rub on the soles of her feet, hopefully this would help, although the plug in had broken, so I had to go and by another. I am going to try and get it her room when she wakes, I will have to hope the night light doesn’t keep her awake I will try and put something in front of it to block out the light. I have the syringes ready.

Now I know why sleep deprivation is used as a torture method, so it will be a miracle if we can carry this out for another two weeks to give it a chance of working. I really don't know if I can last with so little sleep for the next two weeks. Fingers crossed ! Failing this, we might have to book an exorcist! Or I might have to book into a hotel! On a more serious note, the blog suggested a reward chart so we will try that next perhaps. If this too fails, I will reach out to Supernanny and see if she can help…Watch this space!

If you have any tips or stories, we would love to hear them. You can add these to any of the veganmummadiaries groups and or pages on Facebook or Insta or at the bottom of this plug.

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