Parenting Advice


Brisbane Nurture Centre is providing much-needed help to sleep-deprived parents

Since the opening of the Brisbane Nurture Centre 12 months ago, dedicated staff members have repeatedly heard grateful parents describe their program as ‘a life changing experience’.

North West Private Hospital Director of Clinical Services Ellen Whittaker said this innovative program is designed to assist parents who are struggling with the immense physical, emotional and social adjustment to parenting.

The centre, which is based within Ramsay North West Private Hospital in Everton Park, Brisbane, is the first of its kind in a private hospital in Queensland. Ms Whittaker said that while some private units had a dedicated focus on the management of the mother with postnatal depression, the Nurture Centre’s program is for parents who experience issues with sleep, settling and feeding their babies.

The exhaustion that accompanies these problems can have a severe impact on the general health and well-being of the parent, she added. “Our coordinator, Lorraine Evans, and her qualified staff assist parents with feeding difficulties, infant sleeping disorders, unsettled or irritable infants, reflux and colic, maternal exhaustion and adjustment to parenthood,” Ms Whittaker said.

“The safe, calm environment of the centre provides the essential support parents need to be able to look after their baby and arm them with the tools they need to strengthen this relationship."

The program, which was designed by Ms Evans, draws on her background in this speciality over the years. Ms Evans and her staff focus on teaching parents the best approaches to sleep and settling their children through establishing positive routines, observations of tired signs and setting up positive sleep associations.

This approach is relevant for infants and children up to 18 months of age.” In the first 12 months of operation, Ms Whittaker said the centre was overwhelmed with bookings.

“While our market research indicated a strong need for this service in Queensland as this state lacks the number of similar supports available in other southern states, we have been amazed by the level of interest.” She added, “We have had such a positive response from parents struggling to cope when faced with the difficulties of a baby that won’t sleep. Our families come from all over Queensland and northern NSW to participate in this life-changing program.”

The Brisbane Nurture Centre admits mothers and their babies together into single room accommodation under a five-day residential style program (Monday to Friday). The centre works with families to ascertain what they would like to achieve during the program and then provides individual support, advice, education and group sessions.

Group sessions offered during the program include: sleep and settling, nutrition and family eating, baby massage, circle of security/attachment parenting, adjustment to parenting, feeding/breastfeeding, play and communication with babies and toddlers. During the program there is the opportunity for partners to attend group sessions in the evening.