A leading Australian Paediatrician today launched a new radio campaign and a printed resource that encourages parents to worry less about being perfect, but instead to have fun, cuddle their babies, make eye contact, sleep near-by, and even to learn infant massage.
Associate Professor Graham Reynolds, who is the Director of Paediatric Research at the Canberra Hospital and the ANU School of Medicine, and Ambassador of the International Association of Infant Massage Australia (IAIM), said that a more relaxed approach to parenting was not just about feeling good, but important in the mental and physical health of both parents and babies.
“We have launched a new fact sheet called Building the Bonds. It explains to parents how simply relaxing and enjoying our relationships with our babies offers many benefits that last well into adulthood. There is a lot of pressure on families today to use the ‘right’ techniques and we are seeing more and more parents collapsing under the expectations to be ‘perfect’. Many new parents become confused about all the conflicting advice about what to do with their baby. Not only is this stressful for parents and babies, but there is actually no real evidence to support the idea that there is a single, perfect way to raise a baby.” Assoc. Prof. Reynolds said.
The free fact sheet, available from the International Association of Infant Massage, comes on the back of a major landmark study in America that found children who experienced poor psychological health were at least seven times more likely to have economic and relationship problems in adulthood from poor mental health.
“The tricky thing is that all babies are different. Some parents are being scammed into believing that there is a one-size-fits-all solution that will fix things like sleeping, crying or other common challenges of new parenthood. When these things don’t “work”, parents and babies become distressed”.
The solution, according to Assoc. Prof. Reynolds, is instead of arguing about which techniques are “right”, and causing stress for parents and babies, we need to place a great emphasis on supporting a relaxed and responsive relationship between parents and babies.
“Things like nurturing touch, eye contact, and simply cuddling our babies when they are distressed can really help enhance the relationship between parents and babies. Often, when parents are supported to relax and tune in to their babies in this way, and to respond in natural and caring ways, we often see problems with things like sleep resolve themselves. It also lays the foundation for good social, emotional and mental health.”
The free fact sheet can be downloaded from www.iaim.org.au. The radio campaign supporting parents and babies was launched in Canberra thanks to a donation from Radio FM 104.7.