Having a new baby in the house can come as a big shock. Each one comes with its individual set of behaviours and, at times, problems.
The good news is that help is at hand. We spoke to some of the organisations that specialise in “baby craft” to find out what kind of services are out there.
Family care centres based in each state and territory in Australia do similar work with babies and toddlers (see Where to get help). CHOICE spoke to both Tresillian and Tweddle about the services that they assist frazzled parents with. Among other things, both offer help for parents in the form of day visits and residential programs for parents who have been referred by either a GP or baby health clinic. Tresillian also runs a helpline.
Settling the sleeping problems
Both centres say they deal with sleeping problems using a technique called responsive settling.
Leanne Daggar, a centre manager and director of Tresillian, describes the technique as being very gentle and working in partnership with the parent. “The basis is listening to the child’s cues, recognising the tired signs [and] trying to develop a settling program. We encourage parents to work with us and certainly don’t let the babies become distressed.”
Clare Pridham, clinical nurse consultant with Tweddle, says, “One of the biggest misconceptions is that the more tired a baby gets the longer they will sleep. If they are overtired they don’t sleep as well. The key is being consistent. For example, if you put them down in one place for a day sleep and then somewhere else at night it can cause problems, so when you come here we work on all these issues together.”
Should you call the baby whisperer?
Over the last 10 years or so there has been a rise in the number of private individuals offering commercial sleep and settling programs.
Elizabeth Sloane, the author of the The Gift of Sleep, has been working privately to help parents instigate a sleep program. Sloane, who originally worked as a mothercraft nurse, started developing a sleep program after struggling with her third child who was not sleeping well.
She now runs her popular program full time and often has a waiting list. Sloane says that lot of what she does is what she provides in person. “I am a circuit breaker; I am there to be calm, consistent and to provide guidance.”
She claims she has approximately a 90% success rate with the families she works with. “When it works, I call a sleep program a magic wand because it is life changing – the babies are sleeping, the parents are rested, they have more partner time, the babies are waking up happy and with an appetite and the family and the baby have a real sense of routine.”