Some of you may have read my book, Silent Nights. It’s hard to believe I wrote the original more than 20 years ago. It didn’t start as a book. In fact, it started as notes I wrote for parents when they came to see me at my practice in rural South Australia.
Even at that time patients were seeking assistance to achieve better sleep and good feeding, growth and/or behaviour for their children.
My wife, Maryanne, used to photocopy the pages. As the years went by I added to these notes until they became a booklet and then a book. While it is such a long time ago that Silent Nights evolved from handwritten notes into a book, many of the fundamental messages are still entirely relevant. And some things have definitely changed. With just a very small number of copies still available today (literally a handful), I’m delighted that my new book, Your Baby Manual, For Optimal Sleep, Feeding and Growth in Babies and Children, will soon be hitting the stores (you’ll be able to buy it soon on my website). Its imminent release has caused me to reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same in the world of parenting over the past couple of decades.
If I look at sleep first, there continues to be active international discussion about how much sleep is ideal and how it should be achieved and also how and where infant sleep should occur. For those of you who know my work this is a key focus with families. The new book looks at sleep in children from birth until an age when it should be regular, predictable and easy to achieve. As a very simple summary, I aim to assist parents to achieve 12 hours sleep for their children by approximately 12 weeks of age. For children with sleep disorders I aim to assist parents to resolve them within 2-4 nights and to return the child to about 12 hours of sleep per night.
Feeding of babies and toddlers is a complex arena. For newborn babies there is intense pressure placed upon mothers to exclusively breast feed. It worries me when mothers are put in a position where they feel anxious about their feeding choices. My stance about this is that I will always support a mother in her choices and guide her to provide the best nutrition and growth for her baby.
I find that if children sleep well and are feeding in such a manner that they are meeting their needs for optimal growth then behaviour is often very good. Children who are tired or tired and hungry find it very difficult to be the best company. My aim is to maximise the number of hours and days when parents and child enjoy each others company.
I look forward to sharing the new book with you as soon as possible. Like all new events we keep on hoping that it will arrive next week. At the moment it seems likely that it will be available in September.
Best wishes and sleep well
Dr Brian Symon