Dr Brian Symon, aka ‘The Babysleep Doctor’, is a well published specialist medical practitioner with an MD (PhD) in infant sleep. He has more than 30 years’ practical experience working with parents and babies encountering problems of sleep, feeding, growth and behaviour.
As a traditionally trained doctor, Dr Symon believes in the value of ‘evidence’ through appropriate research. During his extensive career, he has personally counselled more than 10,000 families utilising an effective, ‘evidence-based’ strategy to improve infant sleeping, feeding, growth and behaviour. The quality of scientific and clinical evidence supporting The Babysleep Doctor’s strategy is strong. He represents one of many international care providers utilising a ‘behaviour modification’ approach as opposed to an “attachment parenting” model. The efficacy of behaviour modification in improving infant sleep is well supported by research and publications.
The Babysleep Doctor strategy rests on the following principles. Optimal infant feeding (first principle) and high quality sleep (second principle) result in improved growth (third principle) and behaviour (fourth principle). The strategy recognises that ALL of these principles are inter-related i.e. do not occur in isolation. It is recognition of these principles that drives the ongoing success of this strategy experienced by thousands of Australian families to date. The overarching aim of this strategy is to eliminate unnecessary infant crying. The Babysleep Doctor regards a child’s prolonged crying as a distress signal for the child and the entire family unit.
Recently presented Australian research and papers at the RACGP conference in Adelaide(1,2) on the topic reports babies are commonly crying for 2 to 4 hours per day (24 hours). The Babysleep Doctor considers this to be of significant stress to both a baby’s and family’s well-being. Yet these figures represent a common norm for Australian babies who have neither seen, nor heard of Dr Symon, and this degree of distress poses a major problem for babies, their mothers and families.
The Babysleep Doctor strategy is designed to reduce infant crying and distress within 2 to 4 days, and to ultimately eliminate unnecessary crying and distress. If a baby’s tiredness and tearfulness is putting a mother’s sense of well-being at risk, then Dr Symon can help. Dr Symon’s study published in the British Medical Journal Open in 2012(3) involving 80 mothers of infants aged 6 to 12 months with established infant sleep problems, saw a major decrease in the number of night-time awakenings requiring parental support following a single consultation. Furthermore, marked improvements in maternal stress, anxiety and depression were observed. After one visit to Dr Symon’s team, mothers experiencing poor sleep found their babies reduced their average number of night-time wakings from 5.0 to 0.5 within two weeks. Furthermore, maternal scores for depression decreased by 85 per cent.
The Babysleep Doctor respects an individual’s choice as to how they wish to parent. Many families hold different belief structures and will not seek Dr Symon’s advice.
It is clear that current models of care are not entirely successful. Large numbers of families in Australia are experiencing broken nights, parental fatigue and exhaustion. Up to 15 per cent of women are experiencing post natal depression, stress and anxiety. Dr Brian Symon presents a model of care which is proven by robust evidence(4) to improve infant sleep while simultaneously decreasing maternal scores for depression.
- Babies who cry all the way to their general practitioners, A/Prof Michael Fasher, University of Sydney, RACGP GP14 Adelaide Convention Centre, Oct 9-11, 2014.
- Preliminary evaluation of a primary care intervention for cry-fuss behaviours in the first 3-4 months of life. Dr Pamela Douglas, The University of Queensland. RACGP GP14 Adelaide Convention Centre, Oct 9-11, 2014.