10h 30m CPDSeminar

The Unsettled Baby Seminar

Two-Day Seminar for All Nurses and Midwives


26 - 27 Oct 2020
Mercure Hotel Brisbane
85-87 North Quay
Brisbane QLD4000

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Why Attend

Nurses and midwives who work 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. It includes:

  • Why do 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?
  • Which strategies can families try?
  • What is the connection between 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. Know and apply a range of theories and interventions relating to the care of unsettled babies
  2. Assess babies presenting to you with unsettled behaviour to ensure there is no underlying physiological condition
  3. Provide advice you to mothers of unsettled babies that is informed by the best available evidence
  4. Help parents in your practice be more confident when dealing with an unsettled baby


Day One

8:30am - Registration and Refreshments


When Are Unsettled Babies a Problem?

Infant crying is a means of communication that 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. It 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:

  • What is the 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. Discuss:

  • How relevant is Wessel’s rule of threes 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?


Do We Need a Diagnosis for the Crying Infant?

Many parents can be reassured about normal crying behaviour, but some may want a diagnosis. We will explore:

  • What conditions or symptoms might present with a history of persistent crying?
  • What details of crying history are relevant?
  • How do we give parents an explanation of our assessment of normal crying issues?

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 wellbeing. It includes:

  • A review of controlled crying – its effectiveness and concerns
  • The evidence on the relationship between different parental caregiving beliefs and prolonged crying


Social and Emotional Development in Infants

Infants develop individual personalities as they develop emotionally and socially. Personalities are the result of healthy emotional and social development. Discuss:

  • 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 their perception of their baby’s developing personality

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. It 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, 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. It 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?


Maternal Responsiveness

How do we respond to a crying infant? This session will discuss how a mother's behaviour affects infant crying. Explore:

  • What are the factors that influence maternal responsiveness?
  • What is the role of maternal self-concept in maternal responsiveness?
  • What is parental reflective functioning?

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. This session includes:

  • How useful are theories about attachment and separation in today’s world?
  • How can you iIdentify 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?


Strategies for Families

Putting babies to sleep can be a battle, so it helps to have a battle plan. The next session will discuss strategies to help put babies to sleep. Includes:

  • Helping caregivers recognise their feelings
  • Settling strategies
  • Important points to remember

12:30pm - Lunch and Networking


Social and Emotional Wellness and Challenging Behaviour

Working with older babies and young toddlers we face the challenge of trying to understand and describe the relationship between behavior and communication. It includes:

  • How do we identify acting out and social withdrawing behaviors exhibited by infants and toddlers?
  • What family circumstances, including maternal depression, can have an impact on the social and emotional development of infants and toddlers?
  • Can we identify ways in which parents can use reflection to address their child’s needs?


Managing Separation Anxiety and the Clingy Baby

Separation anxiety is 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. This session will explore:

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

3:00pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


Developing a Plan for Educating Mothers

The expectations of childbirth and child rearing are seldom based in reality. Education can be viewed as an early intervention strategy that could divert the risks associated with unsettled babies before they occur. This practical session aims to develop a plan for nurses, midwives and 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 30 years 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. Read More
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