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As a mother of two and an Occupational Therapist practicing in the field of mental health for over 14 years, I feel that I am in an ideal position to endorse the value of the Baby Love program.
I certainly would not have done so had I come across any evidence that the program would in any way damage or harm my baby. In fact the opposite. It has only made for a happier, healthier family and a baby who is well ahead of his developmental milestones. Babies do not know how to establish their own routines - and neither do mothers - the Baby Love program and Baby Love Consultants are lifesavers as far as that is concerned. A baby that has a routine will have an established hunger metabolism, will be happily awake and will get adequate sleep - all of this equals a happy family and a thriving baby.
Babies need to cry - it is natural and their only means of communicating with you, which is why using your "crying checklist" that your Baby Love Consultant will explain to you is so important. You will correctly interpret your babies cry and be able to meet his needs as opposed to reacting out of desperation.
I would encourage any parent to firstly acknowledge that we do not miraculously know what to do once we become parents - we need help and support, and secondly to contact Baby Love to get exactly that.
The longer term repercussions of a poor sleep pattern in infants, babies and toddlers that I have personally encountered in my practice are as follows:
Delayed/unmet developmental milestones as the child is too tired to engage with the environment and thereby learning is delayed
Poor quality attachments and later difficulty in establishing healthy relationships. If the child isn't in a good routine (which is essential for the development of trust because the child learns to predict their world and manage it effectively from there), then they don't progress developmentally being able to trust people and situations around themselves -this obviously has a long-term impact on relationships
Decreased ability to learn effectively
Poor eating habits and later diet related illnesses. Without a good routine a child becomes a sporadic and often picky eater, and this relationship with food will follow them into their later lives.
Port social skill development. Tired children will be grumpy and overly demanding children who will not be able to interact with peers in an effective manner.
Increases risk of illness related to impulse control in adolescents and adulthood such as (in the extreme) drug and alcohol dependence, self-harm behaviour, promiscuity and suicidality. The child who is not in a good routine and who is sleep deprived learns to live in 'survival' mode - responding to immediate needs rather than being proactive and planning their engagement with life circumstances.
The longer term repercussions of poor sleep patterns from the parents' perspective that I have both experienced (some of) myself and in practice are as follows:
Increased risk of PND (Post Natal Depression), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)), anxiety, guilt around poor parenting, poor performance at work, no energy to engage with friends or child, failure as a parent.
Loss of quality relationship with partner
Increased risk of intimate partner violence, domestic violence. Domestic violence is a violence perpetrated by any family member on another family member. Intimate partner violence is one adult partner perpetrating against the other adult partner. There are often other children in the home who get the 'brunt' of parents' short tempers. Also remember that violence in this respect is not only physical but includes financial, emotional, psychological and spiritual.
Decreased performance in the work environment
Decreased social interaction
Development of a poor quality attachment with child which often leads to the child developing dysfunctional personality characteristics. We often see adolescents presenting with dependent type personalities, low grade depression, self-harming behavior later in life often requiring long term psychiatric intervention.
The benefits for the child, parents and family unit as a whole of having one's baby in a good sleep pattern from early on are immediately apparent. However, what is not immediately apparent are the long term benefits and it is the effects of a poor routine early in life that I frequently encounter as major psychiatric difficulties in my practice later in life.
A preventative approach is clearly the preferable option across all areas of medicine. An opportunity to have assistance in establishing one's baby in a healthy, age appropriate routine and healthy sleeping patterns, is an ideal component of what I would see as an effective preventative approach for many childhood, adolescent and adult mental illnesses. Baby Love provides this in a comprehensive, individualised and supportive manner that I can attest to having been through the program with my then 8 month old son.
My experience from a personal perspective is on the Baby Love's website (http://www.babylove.co.za/baby-love-luke-weir-smith.html) and has been there for over 7 years. Today I have a happy, healthy well-adjusted, thriving 8 year old son and an equally happy, healthy and thriving 6 year old daughter. I have a happy husband, we all sleep in our own beds, go to sleep at bedtime without any hassle and can sleep pretty much anywhere. This may sound simple, but for a parent who had a baby in a poor sleep pattern for the first 8 months of his life - it is an achievement that I cherish every day. Baby Love brought me and my family from a place of near collapse to a place of pure joy.
Kerry Weir-Smith : Occupational Therapist - BSc OT 0032352