Welcome to Season One Episode Three of the SBS Podcast.
Today’s conversation is with neonatal paediatrician and author of two books, Your cherished baby and Baby on Board – Dr Howard Chilton.
Howard is a unique specialist – he often leaves parents feeling deeply relaxed after a consultation.
And says that most of his work is spent rallying against old fashioned, routine-based parenting models and helping mums trust themselves and their child’s needs.
Hopefully we give you a foundation of knowledge that empowers you to individually craft your parenting – according to the uniqueness of your baby.
May this chat help you to trust your instincts and most importantly enjoy your parenting even more.
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Podcast| Launch Season 1, Episode 3
Evidenced based natural parenting with Dr Howard Chilton
On leaving an appointment with Neonatal Paediatrician Dr Howard Chilton, mamas describe feeling a deep state of relaxation.
Yet as Howard tells Nadine, in this episode of the She Births® Show Podcast, his method is simple: a combination of reassurance and gentle encouragement to trust nature’s way of doing things.
“I spend a lot of time rallying against old fashioned, routine-based parenting model which assumes baby is manipulative and trying to mix things up! And mostly concerned with getting his own way.
“I think if parents go away understanding that they have a baby who needs as exactly the same level of care as they got in the womb – they are most of the way there. “
So how exactly is it done?
Accept the transformation of parenthood
The first step, according to Dr Howard is to accept the fact that your baby is a gift that will completely and utterly transform your life – and that means that things need to change. “Many new parents spend a lot of time wondering how their new baby will fit into their life. But unfortunately, life is not like that and babies demand a complete lifestyle change because they are unbelievably dependent” says Howard.
Create your village – you can’t raise a baby on your own
“There’s a reason babies are created so cute, with their tiny noses and lovely smells – nature intended for us to feel protective of babies. Use this to your advantage, “says Howard. “Get very friendly with both sets of grandparents and persuade them to move into the same town as you! Make sure you have a network, lots of mums with problems are those who are isolated, and they have usually been misled that their baby “ought “to have a nap here and a nap there, so they dare not leave the house!”
You don’t teach your baby to self-settle – they show you.
“Telling mothers that they need to show their babies how to self-settle is manifestly untrue and is damaging to the normal relationship mothers want to make with their babies. “Babies learn to settle on a wide a continuum and depends on the temperament of the baby, “says Howard. “They are either what the Washington Institute call self-soothers of signallers.” Self-soothers are the baby next door who sleeps through the night from the word go – and they’re “just lucky, “according to Howard. While signallers are the babies who “squawk and squeak every time they don’t see their mums. “You have to find out from your baby what his or her needs may be,” says Howard.
There’s no point getting advice from other mums about your baby’s sleep
The same rules apply when it comes to newborn sleep. According to Howard there is no rhyme or reason for why some babies sleep all the time and some don’t – again it’s a bit of a lucky drawer, dependent on baby’s temperament. “For a baby between the ages of 0-2 months, the average sleep time is 14.6 hours, but the range is anywhere between 9.3 hours to 20 hours, “says Howard.\ “If you got a 9.3-hour baby they would have 3-4 naps during the day and they are busy (very wakeful) in the night. But if you have a 20-hour baby, they spend half the day in their cot or on your chest, napping.” The absolute key with baby sleep is again, trust your own baby: You can’t really get advice from other mothers about your particular baby,” says Howard.
Don’t be scared of co-sleeping – understand the risk factors.
“There is nothing inherently unsafe or dangerous about sleeping with your baby. Mothers and babies always slept together in an evolutionary system and worked extremely well,” says Howard.
“But when you interfere with it with modern stuff like booze and drugs, cigarettes. Or you have toddlers and maybe pets in the bed too – they’re called risk factors and that’s when it becomes dangerous.” He also told Nadine that families need to decide for themselves if bedsharing will benefit them and make the decision from there.
Colic: Myth versus reality
The cause of colic has always befuddled parents and caregivers – according to Howard the word Colic even got a mention in the first paediatric textbook, The Book of Children, published in 1543! Since that time, he says there has been decades of research but “no unifying pathology”.
“We know it kicks off at 2 weeks and peaks at 6 weeks, with 50% babies crying more and 50% crying less, with most crying happening at 6pm… If you follow them up from 6 weeks it trickles down and falls off a cliff at 3-4 months, “says Howard.
“Why does it fall off a cliff at 3 months? Because at 3 months they wire up and they can switch off and ignore everyone and calm themselves. And almost miraculously they change their behaviour!”
In the meantime, Howard recommends parents of colicky babies try and shield them from overstimulation – too many faces and noises and cuddles from all their loved ones throughout the day.
“Babies have no off button. They just keep watching and absorbing, so they need our help. Take baby into quiet environment and put them on your chest and calm them. It can be someone else’s chest too, as long as they’re with the program! Keep things very quiet. No TV or toddler, and just chill with the baby. Eventually they’ll return to base. They need to have a warm body to help them do that.”
Monitor yourself and your baby, not an App.
Howard’s parting words were perhaps the most important of all for our mamas-to-be – a gentle reminder to be your own barometer when it comes to your new role.
“Avoid the App that tells you to record every feed and poop and sleep. Look at your baby more and Smartphone less and it will all probably be more enjoyable!”
1. Baby on Board, Dr Howard Chilton: https://www.booktopia.com.au/baby-on-board-howard-chilton/book/9781925995107.html
2. Your Cherished Baby, Dr Howard Chilton https://www.babydoc.com.au/product/your-cherished-baby/
3. Self-soothers versus signallers: https://www.bellybelly.com.au/baby-sleep/cry-it-out/ Seattle Hospital study https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Infant-Sleep-Training-is-Effective-and-Safe-Study-Finds.aspx
4. Professor James McKenna: https://cosleeping.nd.edu/mckenna-biography/
5. Deb Myers, Baltimore data re: breastfeeding, mammal biological markers, South America, Africa: http://www.slahp.org/deborah-myers/
6. Dr Helen Ball studies on COLIC: http://evolutionaryparenting.com/five-questions-with-dr-helen-ball/
7. First paediatric textbook mentioned colic in 1543 – The Book of Children
8 . In 2005 $30 billion was spent on anti-reflux medicines for babies in USA. https://www.drugwatch.com/news/2015/07/29/drug-abuse-in-america/
9. Dr Howard Chilton’s blog on the importance of grandparents: https://www.babydoc.com.au/gratitude-for-grandmas/
10. Dr Anita Collins: http://www.anitacollinsmusic.com/neuroandmused, The Lullaby Effect: https://www.female.com.au/dr-anita-collins-the-lullaby-effect-interview.htm
11. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Mothers and Others: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674060326&content=reviews
12. Eye contact and baby’s brain development: http://www.pattycogenparenting.com/a-guide-to-articles/eye-contact-between-parents-and-children-a-calming-connection-between-two-brains/
13. Peer reviewed tongue tie studies: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2082757/
14. Michael Deakin, The Children On The Hill: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6951700-the-children-on-the-hill
15. Jean Liedloff, The Continuum Concept, http://www.continuum-concept.org/book.html
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