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The focus of this discussion paper is on understanding and responding to unsettled behaviour in infants. The authors have drawn on published literature; a round table consultation with expert stakeholders and representatives of key agencies; interviews with maternal and child health nurses; information from the public domain; and their own extensive experience working with parents and infants as practitioners and researchers in infant and family health and well-being.
At present there are divergent views about:
• the nature, determinants and severity of unsettled infant behaviour
• the most appropriate care to provide to parents seeking assistance to respond to it
• the clinical knowledge and skills required by health professionals to assist parents in this circumstance and the training needed to build these
• the human and other resources that health services require to address it • the policies to govern these • the research required to inform them.
The authors have described the available evidence about the nature, prevalence, determinants and consequences of unsettled infant behaviour, and the range of information and services that are currently available to parents in Australia. The evidence, debates and generally complex state of knowledge and practice are summarised.
The aims of this paper are to contribute to: the development of nationally agreed principles and approaches to understanding and responding to unsettled infant behaviour to meet the needs of parents, infants and professionals; dissemination of existing knowledge, and formation of a research agenda to address knowledge gaps.