Infant crying and sleep problems (e.g. frequent night waking, difficulties settling to sleep) each affect up to 30% of infants and often co-exist. They are costly to manage and associated with adverse outcomes including postnatal depression symptoms, early weaning from breast milk, and later child behaviour problems. Preventing such problems could improve these adverse outcomes and reduce costs to families and the health care system. Anticipatory guidance-i.e. providing parents with information about normal infant sleep and cry patterns, ways to encourage self-settling in infants, and ways to develop feeding and settling routines before the onset of problems-could prevent such problems. This paper outlines the protocol for our study which aims to test an anticipatory guidance approach.
The 27-page booklet provides parents with information about normal infant sleep patterns, sleep cycles and therefore, the potential for an infant to wake overnight several times. The benefit of an infant learning to fall asleep independently is discussed. Content highlights the disadvantages of an infant relying on parent dependent cues to fall asleep at the beginning of the night (e.g. by rocking). The dangers of parents sharing their bed with a newborn are also described. Steps to settling an infant are given with emphasis on the importance of putting the infant down for a sleep drowsy but awake, so that the infant can learn to fall asleep independently. Normal infant crying patterns are discussed (including the 'crying curve' showing the natural peak and subsequent decline in infant crying; used with permission from the website: ) together with strategies for managing infant crying in both checklist and pictorial form. Signs and symptoms of uncommon medical causes of crying are outlined. Information on improving parental wellbeing is provided, as well as information on typical sleep and feeding patterns in Australian children after the first three months of life. 2b1af7f3a8