Tweddle helping parents with much more than sleep reports The Sunday Age

Tweddle helping parents with much more than sleep reports The Sunday Age


Tweddle was recently interviewed by Miki Perkins for The Age around the important early intervention and prevention work provided by the Early Parenting Sector. It was a great opportunity to talk about the many challenges faced by parents and the misconceptions that still exist when it comes to the term ‘sleep schools’.

As covered in the story, all clients at Tweddle are screened for postnatal depression and almost half the mothers and a third of the fathers report a problem with their mood.

As well as help with sleep and settling, there are parenting classes at Tweddle on how to interact with your baby, services in Geelong, Terang and Bacchus Marsh, a program for women in prisons and friendship groups for parents with kids with a disability.

Reporter Miki spent time speaking with Tweddle mum Samantha Swann, 24, who has five-month-old twins – Jason and Isabella Vongvixay. ‘‘I always assumed sleep school was just a place you come to get help with sleep, but we’ve done lots of sessions on how to read your baby’s cues.’’ Samantha said.

When a parent rings Tweddle a member of the admissions team spends about half an hour going through a set of 80 questions to assess the situation.

It is often the first time the parent has been able to debrief. They might talk about having a traumatic birth, family violence, drug or alcohol issues, being an older parent or using IVF, says Tweddle communications manager Kerrie Gottliebsen.

‘‘There’s a grand landscape of stuff to wade through before we can simply say the baby’s not sleeping.’’

The strain that poor sleep places on relationships can have profound implications for both parent and child. Research into infant brain development shows good relationships promote brain cell growth, says Tweddle practice lead psychologist, Dr Kanthi Sayers.

In a very stressful family environment, babies don’t learn how to regulate their emotions and the physical growth of neural pathways can be stunted.

It was important that parents learn how to respond to baby cues and understand when they need to be picked up and cuddled, Dr Sayers says.

Tweddle uses a ‘‘responsive’’ style of settling, which doesn’t use timing and reacts to the level of distress in a baby’s cry.

It can be very daunting for an exhausted parent to sit alone in a room with a crying baby. At Tweddle they have someone at their elbow to help them through, says Sayers. ‘‘Being attuned to the baby’s needs is the most important thing’’.

The full story, including a video interview can be found here.

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