The Baby Calmer
A constantly crying baby can leave new mums distraught
but one unique practitioner is pioneering the way to quiet.
Kylie Welsh reports
he shrieking sound of a new born Soon after Anne discovered this new
baby crying is alarming for any new approach, a former work colleague came to
mum, even though babies need to her for help. At the time the new mother was
communicate through crying. When experiencing severe stress and exhaustion as
this crying is continual, uninterrupted for long a result of several weeks of trying everything
periods and there is no consoling the baby, possible to settle her inconsolable new baby.
the effects on mum and baby take on deeper She knew about Anne’s research and trusted
physiological and psychological effects. Anne to help her try to settle her baby.
Medical professionals often diagnose “After only a few minutes, her screaming
babies that cry continuously as having colic six-week-old baby was calm and relaxed in
(stomach pain). The ‘Rule of Three’ within her mother’s arms, and for the first time in a
the medical industry says that colic exists when month, took a full bottle and slept for more
an otherwise healthy baby cries for at least than 10 minutes. The baby’s mother kept
three hours a day, three days a week and has looking at her watch and couldn’t believe it
been doing this for at least three weeks. The when one and a half hours had gone by and
problem with this definition is that it equates her usually screaming baby was still calm…and
colic only with excessive crying. However, as still asleep.” Anne knew then that this approach
new research unfolds, it is becoming clear that worked and made the commitment to study
babies and their crying are more complex. under Dr Harvey Karp and gained the required
Calming a crying baby is not something
that we know how to do by instinct alone,
but it is a skill that needs to be learnt
Anne Thistleton has become known as qualification to start practising here.
‘The Baby Calmer’ and she is currently Originally a primary school teacher,
Queensland’s only qualified parent educator in Anne now specialises in working with young
a pioneering new approach to calming babies. babies and their parents. “When parents
Anne holds both a Master of Education learn how to calm their crying baby, their
and a Master of Counselling from the confidence increases, as well as their desire
Australian Catholic University and she has to spend more quality time bonding with
also completed post-graduate training in their baby,” says Anne.
Expressive Therapies. Many women feel that they should have
“In my final year at ACU we had a guest been able to do this instinctively, according
lecturer called Dr Michael Yapko. He is an to Anne, and they feel guilty when they can’t
internationally known expert in the area of stop their baby crying. “Calming a crying
treating depression. I hadn’t yet decided how baby is not something that we know how to do
I might like to work in the counselling field, by instinct alone. Instinct tells us that we need
until he mentioned how post-natal depression to pay attention to our baby’s crying, and that
is an increasingly under-disclosed and under- it really upsets us to hear our baby cry, but
treated disorder for many women. This calming a crying baby is a skill. And as with
information led me to examine the many most skills, it needs to be learnt ,” she says.
causes of post-natal depression in women, A baby crying not only affects the mum
and I found that post-natal depression is and the baby, but also relationships with
highly co-related with infant crying and spouses, other siblings and often evokes
maternal exhaustion.” uninvited interference from others trying
Anne began researching infant crying to ‘help out’. Often all this attention only
and maternal exhaustion and came across adds to the mother’s feeling of frustration,
the ground-breaking work of American inadequacy and despair. Through learning
Paediatrician and Child Development techniques to calm and soothe their baby,
Specialist Dr Harvey Karp. Dr Karp’s mums can take back control and start to
practice of baby calming developed when he build their confidence again.
learnt that the Kung San tribe of Southern Author Jo Tantum also aims to help
Africa was “colic free” and that, 90 percent new parents feel in control with her new
of the time, Kung parents could calm their book Baby Secrets, published by Penguin and
crying babies within 30 seconds. His further now available in Australia. Tantum has
research and teachings indicate that although been working with parents and their babies
a baby’s nine months (or three trimesters) for 21 years in the UK as a ‘sleep nanny’
inside a woman is a time of unbelievably and she shares her secrets of success in a
complex development, in many ways, babies comprehensive guide offering such simple
aren’t always really ready to be born after advice you might wonder why you hadn’t
three trimesters in the womb. thought of things before, but Tantum’s style
Even though newborns have some abilities is calming and clearly encourages confidence
that demonstrate their readiness to be in in her subjects. Baby Secrets takes new parents
the world, at birth, a newborn, according to through the early weeks of a new baby’s
Dr Karp, is still really a foetus. His theory life and shows parents how they can enjoy
is that for the first three months outside the it and what to do when things seem to go
womb, infants want to be made to feel like wrong. From simple feeding techniques and
they are still back there. The next best thing, even how to hold baby, it’s an empowering
apparently, is to make them feel at home survival guide (RRP $29.95 at book stores).
by surrounding them with the comforting
sensations they enjoyed 24/7 in the womb. For more information see www.thebabycalmer.com.au.