The Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre is launching a new training kit for health professionals to help new parents deal with sleepless nights.
The new guidance, called Sleep, Baby & You, helps health care staff give advice to parents on understanding their babies’ sleep and meeting their needs whilst at the same time managing their own fatigue and sleep disruption and looking after their own well-being. Currently UK practitioners get little training in parent-infant sleep issues.
The training tool will be launched at the Centre’s annual conference on Monday 28 March which will celebrate 22 years of world-leading research into infant sleep.
The training tool, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Account, is different to many other interventions currently suggested to parents in the UK, which tend to focus on getting babies to sleep through the night as quickly as possible.
Popular beliefs about when babies should be ‘sleeping through the night’ are based on studies conducted in the 1950s and 1960s when ideas about infant care were quite different from today. Sleep, Baby & You, which was adapted from the Possums Sleep Program used in Australia, teaches parents to manage their expectations, to reduce negative thinking and encourages responsive infant care.
It includes practical advice for health visitors to discuss with parents, such as avoiding an obsession with day-time naps and suggesting naps happen on the go, accepting that sleepiness after eating is a biological cue so letting babies fall sleep, and finding techniques to calm fractious babies and help them achieve sleep.
Starting off with a very small local study many years ago, the Durham Infancy & Sleep Centre has grown into one of the leading research centres for parent-infant sleep in the world. Their work with more than 5,000 parents and babies has substantially increased parents’ understanding of babies’ sleep, how best to care for babies during the night, and how best to keep them safe when asleep, including helping to reduce the rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).