Dunstan Baby Language ~ The loving alternative to controlled crying


The loving alternative to controlled crying

All babies will cry. This is normal and natural.

The debate about how much a baby should be allowed to cry, and the effects this has on the baby, is a complex, personal and emotional issue.

Our views are simple: Crying hurts. We all cry for a reason. Less crying, the better. When possible, prevent inconsolable crying. We know that the Dunstan Baby Language can help prevent unnecessary crying.

There is an alternative to controlled crying, which can be a traumatic experience for a young one. Understanding your baby’s needs and responding quickly can prevent the heartbreaking crying that can take hold. For infants under 6 months, we encourage a natural, gentle, responsive approach. And discourage ‘cry it out’ or sleep training methods, unless all else fails. To allow a baby to cry for hours and to argue, as some have, that this is beneficial to lung development, is like claiming that running 3 consecutive marathons will aid leg development. Commonsense, mother’s intuition and academic research support our view. 

We trust a mother to know what is best for her baby. Dunstan Baby Language simply provides mothers with a safe, natural, flexible tool.

That’s why we urge you to explore an alternative to controlled crying. 

Above all, we trust a mother to know what is best for her baby. Dunstan Baby Language simply provides mothers with a safe, natural, flexible tool to apply as each mother sees fit.

Sleep expert Tizzie Hall says:”There is plenty of evidence to show it is emotionally damaging when a baby’s cries are not answered. But it’s important for parents to remember there are several types of crying, as crying is a baby’s only means of communication. Parents need to learn to interpret these cries.”

Other experts on crying and it’s consequences for newborns

  • Sleep expert Dr Alex Bartle has found that new mothers lose on average 400 – 750 hours of sleep in the first 12 months. Dr Bartle said sleep deprivation affected decision making, blood pressure and could lead to depression. DBL would like to help you keep this closer to 400, instead of 750 precious hours of lost sleep.
  • According to a survey by Mother & Baby Magazine* on how new parents are coping:
    •  70% of mums have less than 5 hours sleep a night in baby’s first 3 months;
    •  Nearly ⅔ of mums are either bad tempered, irritated with their baby, despairing or tearful;
    •  57% tried controlled crying, 27% found it had no success, another 27% found it worked for one or two nights, and only 8% found it had long term success. * M&B Survey Oct/Nov 2005
  • Meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies: “When their babies are inconsolable, crying for hours on end, new moms are twice as likely to suffer from postpartum depression, although experts say they can’t say that one condition causes the other.” –                                                    
  • A policy statement by the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health (AAIMHI) in 2004 says: “AAIMHI is concerned that the widely practiced technique of controlled crying is not consistent with what infants need for their optimal emotional and psychological health, and may have unintended consequences. An alternative to controlled crying should be explored.” – 
  • Lorraine Rose, author of Learning to Love, a parents guide to tuning into the emotional needs of babies in the first years of life, says the relationship a baby has with its main carer carves a message in the brain that influences how well it relates to others in the future. If the carer is warm and nurturing, this message will read something like, “relationships are OK, I can trust this person. I feel safe with them.” This sets the scene for more good relationships to follow. But if this first relationship is consistently stressful in some way, the message may read relationships are unpredictable…”
  • Ms Robin Barker, midwife and best selling author of Baby Love: “I don’t think that it is possible or even appropriate to attempt to teach babies much less than 6 months to sleep by leaving them to cry as a planned strategy day in, day out. Unlike some people, I do not believe that ‘controlled crying’ regimes are necessarily harmful for younger babies, but there are too many times when they do not go to plan and so create stress for baby and anxiety for the mother.” 
  • The Ounce of Prevention Fund Report : “If, however, his needs are met only sporadically and pleas for comfort are usually ignored or met with harsh words and rough handling, the infant will focus his energies on ensuring that his needs are met. He will have more and more difficultly interacting with people and objects in his environment, and his brain will shut out the stimulation it needs to develop healthy cognitive and social skills.”
  • Tizzie Hall, in Practical Parenting Magazine, September 2008: “If The Crying Wont Stop… A crying baby can really try your patience. If you have tried everything and your baby just wont stop crying, you will probably start to feel quite tense and upset yourself. This will not help… if you are tense, or at a point where you can᾽t take it any more, this is a danger signal and you shouldn’t ignore these feelings. You may need to put your baby down in a safe place like her cot and go and recharge your batteries. Make yourself a cup of tea and phone a friend or take a shower. If you can’t even get out of bed to go look after your baby, you need to ask for help. A lot of parents and carers find it all gets too much. But the problem wont go away. Call someone who will take your problem seriously – your doctor or health nurse.”
  • Dr Ruth Paradice, British psychologist has made herself unpopular in medical circles by suggesting that women with PND are neither sick nor deranged, but merely overwhelmed by their circumstances. In ”Postnatal Depression: A Normal response to Motherhood?” published in the the British Journal of Midwifery in 1995, she suggested that symptoms attributed to PND could easily be a reaction to the upheaval caused by a baby’s arrival.”If one considers the adjustments that women have to make in order to cope with motherhood, a period of feeling ‘depressed’ is understandable…there is a myth in society that motherhood is both easy and natural…” – SMH July 8, 2000.
  • Dr Bryanne Barnett, professor of perinatal and infant psychiatry at the University of NSW, in Sydney : “the lack of sleep combined with a stressful, round-the clock job – in this case caring for baby – will take a toll on anyone…One of the difficulties about mother getting depressed is that everyone else goes down around her because they’re all so emotionally dependent on her.”
  • And on a lighter note: Truby King, childcare expert of the 1920’s wrote that: “…the baby who is picked up or fed whenever he cries soon becomes a veritable tyrant and gives his mother no peace when awake while, on the other hand, the infant who is fed regularly, put to sleep and played with at definite times soon finds that appeals bring no response and so learns the most useful of lessons, self-control and the recognition of an authority other than his own wishes…”. How times have changed! We will never know how this widely held view may have affected the mental well being of adults in the last century, but most now believe there is a better, gentler way forward.



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