10h 30m CPDSeminar

The Unsettled Baby Seminar

2-Day Seminar for All Nurses and Midwives


28 - 29 Oct 2019
Hotel Ibis Brisbane
27 - 35 Turbot Street
Brisbane QLD4000

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Why Attend

Nurses and Midwives working with mothers and babies are often asked what to do when babies remain unsettled. This program gives you insight into this problem and arms you with a raft of resources to help mothers and babies cope. Includes:

  • Understanding why babies cry
  • What is the ‘Period of PURPLE Crying®’ and do all babies go through this period?
  • When is crying considered excessive?
  • What does babies crying mean? Interpreting the sounds...
  • How do babies learn to self regulate and soothe themselves?
  • Infant Crying and the passage to sleep. How do they learn?
  • Controlled crying - Good or Bad?
  • Strategies that families try
  • Crying and Child abuse

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Need for Program

Inconsolable infant crying and sleep disruption are a great source of concern for parents. This is a common problem affecting approximately a quarter of all parents. There is an abundance of advice and solutions to assist an unsettled baby - all of which are readily accessible. However, this advice is not always pertinent to a specific baby and parent. Nurses and midwives are important conduits to ensure correct information and interventions get to the parent when they need it most. There is a need for nurses and midwives to be correctly informed about the consensus and best practice course of action to implement in the care of an unsettled baby.

Purpose of Program

The purpose of this seminar is to provide nurses and midwives with a deeper understanding of the unsettled baby and, using best available evidence, to assist parents and carers to appropriately respond to the infant.

Your Learning Outcomes

  1. You will know and apply a range of theories and interventions relating to the care of unsettled babies
  2. Babies presented to you with unsettled behaviour will be assessed to ensure there is no underlying physiological condition
  3. That advice you provide to mothers of unsettled babies will be informed with best available evidence
  4. Parents in your practice will be more confident when dealing with an unsettled baby
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Day One

8:30am - Registration and Refreshments


When are Unsettled Babies a Problem?

Infant crying is a means of communication which can create stress and tension under certain circumstances. However, not all crying indicates that the baby has a problem. This introductory session looks at our broad understanding of the unsettled baby. Includes:

  • How do you know why a baby may be unsettled?
  • Does it matter if a baby cries or does not sleep?
  • Do responses to crying vary across cultures?
  • Are unsettled babies a red-flag concern for nurses and midwives?


Normal Physiological Crying and the Period of PURPLE Crying®

When a baby cries for the first time after it has been born everyone gives a sigh of relief! It is a welcomed sound. The anatomy and normal physiology of crying is complex. This session reviews normal crying mechanisms and includes:

  • Review of anatomy and physiology of crying
  • How much crying can be expected of a baby?
  • What might determine healthy variations?
  • What is the ‘Period of PURPLE Crying®’?

10:30am - Morning Tea


Wessel’s Criteria and Inconsolable Crying

More than a generation ago a paediatrician called Morris Wessel observed the phenomena of inconsolable crying which he described as ‘colicky’. This session will address the definition of ‘colic’ or excessive/inconsolable crying, and consider possible causes and interventions.

  • How relevant is Wessel’s ‘Rule of 3s’ today?
  • Is inconsolable crying always bad?
  • What was the outcome of the research of Professor Ian St James-Roberts on infant crying and sleep and why is it important?


Identifying The Meaning of Crying Sounds

Can we tell what is causing crying by its sound or the baby’s behaviour? Some believe this is possible. This session explores the notion that a baby's cry has a specific sound. It Includes:

  • What are believed to be the sounds of baby crying language?
  • What do they sound like?
  • Do patterns exist and what do they mean e.g. tired, hungry, sick?
  • Sharing information with parents and other carers

12:30pm - Lunch and Networking


Controlled Crying – Good or Bad?

The introduction of controlled crying as a settling technique has come under a lot of criticism in recent years. The use of controlled crying has been identified as detrimental to infants’ emotional well-being. It includes:

  • A review of controlled crying and it effectiveness and its concerns
  • Is there evidence of a relationship between different parental caregiving beliefs and prolonged crying?


Maternal Responsiveness and Infant Crying

How does the mother’s behaviour affect infant crying? Consistency and promptness of maternal response is associated with decline in frequency and duration of infant crying.

  • How does this relate to parental concerns on “spoiling” and the practice of controlled crying?

3:00pm - Afternoon Tea


Pulling it Together – Two Case Studies

This final session will look at two vignettes accompanied with videos of situations that demonstrate examples of unsettled babies and debates the reasons for this behaviour. Includes:

  • A baby crying intermittently during breastfeeding
  • A baby who is distressed by her mother's lack of interaction

4:15pm - Close of Day One of Seminar

Day Two

9:00am - Commencement of Day Two


Helping Babies to Soothe and Promoting Good Infant Mental Health

This session will explore the extensive work of the late Dr Katherine Barnard, a pioneering nurse who made significant contributions to infant welfare across the world. This session reviews her landmark work and the role of the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training (NCAST) and its materials, especially Infant States, that can help parents learn to understand their baby. Includes:

  • What have we learned from Dr Barnard’s work?
  • What do heartbeats and rocking have to do with soothing crying babies?
  • How can this information be shared with parents and carers?
  • What can we learn from mothers from different cultures to soothe babies?


The Unsettled Infant and the Passage to Sleep

At different stages in an infant's development there is an identifiable “passage-to-sleep”. Unsettled infant behaviours however, may present as: problems drifting to sleep; intermittent short sleep periods; and frequent waking at night. This session includes:

  • What is considered a normal “passage-to-sleep” for an infant?
  • What about cultural considerations?
  • How can you assess a baby who you suspect has a disrupted “passage-to-sleep”?
  • What can you do to help the parents?

10:30am - Morning Tea


Attachment and the Importance of a Secure Base

It is well known that the quality of an infant’s attachment profoundly influences their long term development. Crying can affect parental bonding and vice versa.

  • How useful are theories about attachment and separation in today’s world?
  • Identifying the early signs of failure-to-attach caused by crying babies and what strategies can you use to divert this situation?
  • What about separation anxiety and the clingy infant?


Infant Crying as a Trigger for Abuse

An unsettled baby can trigger a raft of problems in a family setting. This session looks at which families are more at risk and why?

  • Shaking babies and direct injury; how do we interact with parents whose behaviour we deplore?
  • The influence of guilt and shame
  • What is our mandated responsibility and how do we continue to work with these families?

12:30pm - Lunch and Networking


Strategies that Families Try Including Resources

This session involves a debate where you can share your stories of what has worked for mothers and other carers of unsettled babies. The following questions will be considered:

  • How desperate do parents become and what do they try?
  • What helps and what makes things worse?
  • What interventions that you use to assist mothers and other carers are based on evidence?
  • What resources are available and when to refer?


Managing Separation Anxiety and the Clingy Baby

Separation anxiety is a normal emotional development however, occasionally it can become problematic. Some babies persist in needing more and more comfort and seem insatiable for attention which can have profound unwanted consequences.

  • What can parents do when clinging behaviour persists beyond reasonable developmental stages?
  • Will babies always ‘grow out’ of this behaviour?
  • How to assist parents who do not wish to follow well-meaning advice

3:00pm - Afternoon Tea


Developing a Plan for Educating Mothers

Expectations of childbirth and child rearing are seldom based in reality. Education can be viewed as an early intervention strategy that could divert risks associated with unsettled babies before they occur. This practical session aims to develop a plan for nurses and midwives to parents to raise awareness of unsettled babies and the best way to manage this situation.

4:15pm - Close of Seminar and Evaluations

educator image

Michele Meehan

Michele Meehan is a Maternal and Child Health Nurse currently working in her private practice, 'Parenting Matters', and lecturing on child health topics. Prior to this, she worked for 30years at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, as a Clinical Nurse Consultant. Michele holds a Master’s Degree in Health Science - Parent and Infant Mental Health, and wrote her minor thesis on the topic of 'Infant food refusal'. Her qualifications also include midwifery, community health nursing, health education and counselling and psychotherapy.

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The Unsettled Baby Seminar 2019