The Babysleep Doctor, Dr Brian Symon is disappointed he will not be presenting as scheduled, at the Pregnancy, Babies and Children's Expo in Melbourne.
He regrets he will not be able to present to parents his evidence-based, clinically proven strategies to prevent or resolve problems involving infant sleep, feeding, growth and behaviour.
His presentation was cancelled yesterday following discussions between him and organisers of the Expo after significant criticism of his involvement on social media.
'The criticism appears to have come from people who have not been patients of mine, nor who, judging by their comments, are familiar with my advice," said Dr Symon today.
'What I aim to do is provide parents with the highest quality of information to enable them to make informed choices about how they parent, particularly with regard to the sleeping, feeding, growth and behaviour of their children.
'What is unfortunate is that my presentation, built on robust evidence and research, has been prevented by people who are uninformed about my strategy and the significant outcomes I am able achieve in respect to the health and wellbeing of children, mothers and the whole family," Dr Symon said.
'Also regrettable is the media reporting of me being banned from the event. This is simply untrue.
'Most importantly, it is distressing to learn that this misinformation has caused such unfounded concerns among parents seeking robust, evidence-based information," said Dr Symon.
'I have agreed with the organisers that rather than risking the Expo being disrupted by individuals who are misinformed about my strategy during my presentation, I would meet with those people separately to improve their understanding.
'Those who seek highly researched, evidence-based, clinically proven strategies to prevent or resolve problems of infant sleep, feeding, growth and behaviour can contact me for assistance," Dr Symon said.
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. 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.
Recent media reports have indicated that the care The Babysleep Doctor advocates involves a complete disregard for a child's distress. To the contrary, The Babysleep Doctor regards a child's prolonged crying as a distress signal for the child and the entire family unit.
'My strategy aims to achieve up to 12 hours a night sleep for children. This is achieved using measures that do not require a child to be left alone for 12 hours straight. Rather, I assist a child to learn independent cues of sleep, whilst focusing on the health and safety of the child as the highest priority," Dr Symon said.
'For some children, this will involve comforting by the parents to achieve sleep. Once my strategy is implemented, parents can expect their child to sleep independently for up to 12 hours a night."
The Babysleep Doctor strategy rests on the core principles that optimal infant feeding and high quality sleep result in improved growth and behaviour.
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.
Recently presented Australian research and papers at the RACGP conference in Adelaide on the topic reports that 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 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 1 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 2 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 to improve infant sleep while simultaneously decreasing maternal scores for depression.
Question: Are you surprised about the issues regarding the Mebourne Babies and Children's Expo?
Dr Brian Symon: I am extremely disappointed that I will not be presenting as scheduled, at the Pregnancy, Babies and Children's Expo in Melbourne next weekend.
I regret that I will not be able to present to parents my evidence-based, clinically proven strategies to prevent or resolve problems involving infant sleep, feeding, growth and behaviour.
My presentation was cancelled yesterday following discussions between myself and organisers of the Expo after significant criticism of my involvement on social media.
The criticism appears to have come from people who have not been patients of mine, nor who, judging by their comments, are familiar with my advice.
What I aim to do is provide parents with the highest quality of information to enable them to make informed choices about how they parent, particularly with regard to the sleeping, feeding, growth and behaviour of their children.
Question: What originally inspired your passion in the sleeping patterns of babies?
Dr Brian Symon: I am a Medical Practitioner with a MD (PhD) in infant sleep and I have been working with mothers and babies since 1995.
While working as a rural general practitioner (family physician), infant wellbeing had always been of interest to me. But it was the birth of my own children and my experiences as a parent which awoke my passion for infant sleep and its profound effect on family and baby wellbeing.
It became the focus of my medical practice.
Question: What issues do parent usually come to you for?
Dr Brian Symon: Either: problem resolution – that is, children have developed problems sleeping, feeding or are not growing well or behaving inappropriately.
I also see pregnant women who are keen to achieve excellent sleep soon after birth.
I see children from newborn to about the age of five or six, sometimes older.
They come because I am a GP with a MD (PhD) in infant sleep and 35 years' clinical experience. I can typically help parents resolve problem within 2-3-4 days.
Question: What is a healthy infant sleeping pattern?
Dr Brian Symon: This varies with age and from baby to baby but perhaps one important theme is to achieve a 12 hour sleep at night by about 12 weeks and to maintain that until school age. The majority of my patients achieve that amount of sleep for their children.
Day sleeps vary with age.
Question: What are some of the evidence-based, clinically proven strategies you use to resolve infant sleeping problems?
Dr Brian Symon: The quality of scientific and clinical evidence supporting my strategy is strong. The philosophy is shared by 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.
Some of the best evidence comes from the randomised controlled trial I undertook that was published in the Medical Journal of Australia. This showed up to 14.5 hrs of added sleep by 12 weeks of age with no increase in crying.
A second paper published in the BMJ Open in 2012 addressed maternal well being.It involved 80 mothers with infants aged 6 to 12 months and established infant sleep problems and it demonstrated a major decrease in the number of night-time awakenings requiring parental support following a single consultation. Furthermore, this improved sleep was associated with marked improvements in scores for maternal stress, anxiety and depression. After 1 visit to my team, mothers experiencing poor sleep found their babies reduced their average number of night-time wakings from 5.0 to 0.5 within 2 weeks. Maternal scores for depression decreased by 85 per cent.
I have personally counselled more than 10,000 families.
Question: What success do your patients usually see?
Dr Brian Symon: The majority see major improvements in their children's sleep within 2-4 nights. Improved sleep results in happier, healthier, more confident children. Better-rested mothers who are able to give high quality care, and a thriving family unit.
Question: Why is important for you to have a holistic and natural approach to healthy infant sleeping patterns?
Dr Brian Symon: By holistic I mean that it is important, as a Dr, to look at all the issues which are linked and impact upon infant sleep. Almost always there are issues of sleep, tiredness, and nutrition, behaviour and sleep cues. Every family is questioned to identify their individual problems and then a tailored approach is chosen addressing the problems identified in an appropriate sequence.
Our final aim is for parents to enjoy the true joy of parenting.
Baby wellbeing is inextricably linked to a mothers' wellbeing. A well-informed, confident, happy and well-rested mother is better able to care for her baby and wakes in the morning genuinely enthusiastic about caring for her baby.
Question: Why did you decide to seek the help of Dr Brian Symon?
Julie Telfer: We were desperate for help since Estelle was struggling to sleep due to serious reflux and sought Dr Symon's assistance at my sister-in-law's recommendation, who had visited him to address various issues she was having with her older son in 2011.
Question: Why did you feel you need a The Babysleep Doctor?
Julie Telfer: When my first daughter, Estelle, was almost four months of age, now 3.5 years old, she was experiencing serious reflux, was on multiple medications and was screaming continuously. With Estelle, I felt like I was doing something wrong and abusing her in some way because I just couldn't get her to stop crying, no matter what I did. And I was receiving mixed advice from all over the place.
With my second daughter, Coralie, now 2 years old, we visited Dr Symon before giving birth. By this point, I felt more confident and knew I could give Dr Symon a call or send him an email if I needed help.
As soon as I saw any sign of reflux in Coralie, I knew what to do.
Question: Can you talk about your experience with Dr Brian Symon?
Julie Telfer: Dr Symon was very thorough. He looked at everything that was going on. In the meantime, I was a complete mess. So he looked after me too and ensured I was OK. He was constantly there to help me out. Within three-to-four weeks of visiting Dr Symon, Estelle's reflux had improved markedly because he put her on a tiny amount of pureed apple and rice cereal. And while many people told me it was too early, it improved her sleep significantly and allowed us to take her off the serious medications she was on as a result.
Unlike Estelle, Coralie never needed any medication to address her reflux. Instead of giving her double-doses of serious medication, we started administering a tablespoon of baby solids once-a-day based on Dr Symon's recommendations, which improved her sleep to the extent that she never needed any medications.
Question: How soon into your visits did you find success with the methods?
Julie Telfer: For most babies, sleeping difficulties improve within 2-3 days following an initial consult with Dr Symon. However because Estelle's reflux was so severe, it took three-to-four weeks.
Question: How has your children's sleeping changed since your visit with Dr Brian Symon?
Julie Telfer: After we visited Dr Symon, both children hardly cried at all and slept soundly, especially Estelle, who turned into such a happy girl!
All of my friends were so amazed that they were still rocking their children to sleep for hours while ours went to sleep so quickly and soundly.
Question: What else has changed since the visit (feeding, growth or behaviour)?
Julie Telfer: Estelle had never smiled before visiting Dr Symon. He put a smile back on her dial!
Question: Why would you recommend Dr Brian Symon to other families?
Julie Telfer: Dr Symon is so loving and caring. He came to Coralie's first birthday party and mobilised his contacts when my husband was made redundant last year to help us out. Anyone who doubts his methods should actually visit him and find out for themselves before judging. He doesn't force his methods on anybody, but simply says -this is what I do and it works – give it a go if you want to.' Dr Symon wants to help mums, who when sleep deprived, exhausted and frustrated cannot teach their children anything! I would recommend The Babysleep Doctor to anybody who's child is having sleep troubles.
Interview by Brooke Hunter