The baby calmer - erfect

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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

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