Helping adjustment to parenthood

Cher Jimenez

More than 500 first-time parents have been sleeping soundly thanks to a $9.9 million state government program that provides early intervention support to equip families with the right settling routines for babies aged six to eight weeks.

Minister for disability, ageing and carers Luke Donnellan was at the Moe Early Learning Centre on Thursday to announce the program had reached about 279 families across the Latrobe Valley since it was rolled out in September 2018.

Called What Were We Thinking, the program utilised a total of 39 specially-trained maternal and child health nurses and family support workers to deliver support to new parents.

“This is an ongoing program over four years to provide that early intervention to provide those supports to ensure we get happier families, happier children and better outcomes [in the long run] in terms of their education, their health and their development,” Mr Donnellan said.

The program was developed by Monash University and involved teaching parents the techniques of

settling and encouraging sleeping routines for newborn babies as well as understanding cues and offering practical approaches to understanding bubs.

Mr Donnellan said it was important that new parents were supported as caring for a newborn could be daunting and could result in “walking dead” parents or couples who were sleep deprived.

“If you haven’t slept it’s very difficult to be happy, to make restful decisions, to cope with those difficult things that children provide,” he said.

The program is offered free to Latrobe Valley parents and involves a 24-hour maternal child health service which can be contacted for support.

Family support worker Tracey Love said the program was run after hours where parents gather in support groups and also on a Saturday so that fathers and partners can also join sessions.

Churchill mum Jacqueline Lucas said her seven-week-old daughter Scarlette had been sleeping better since they accessed the program.