Having a baby is filled with wonderful ups and challenging downs, especially for parents of newborns who may have difficulty with feeding, sleeping or soothing. Trying to meet the needs of a fussy infant or young toddler can feel overwhelming, and for over 20 years, Erikson’s Fussy Baby Network has supported parents with expert, empathetic guidance—via our “warmline” and innovative collaborations with community partners. At this time, all support and prevention services are available at no cost to Fussy Baby warmline callers.
Dr. Linda Gilkerson founded Fussy Baby Network (FBN) because she saw a need in the community that was not being met — a prevention and support program that is accessible to any family with a baby 12 months and under. Dr. Gilkerson’s research helped us understand that empowering parents and increasing parenting efficacy is often the key to better caregiver/baby attunement and attachment as well as decreasing stressors and risk factors for the family. A communication tool and relationship-based approach to support, called Facilitated Attuned Interactions (FAN), was created from what families were telling us worked. Infant specialists use the FAN as a tool to support the infant/caregiver relationship, with the goal to strengthen the bond which in turn, strengthens the foundation for the baby’s growth and development.
Olivia Bobbitt, an Erikson master’s student in Child Development and a federal Office of Special Education scholarship recipient, has spent time this past year working at Fussy Baby. This is what she had to share about what it is like to be an infant specialist:
“I have loved every minute of interning at Fussy Baby Network. This experience is one that I will always cherish, especially since it was one of the main reasons, I came to Erikson Institute for graduate school. Getting to read material about babies, talk about babies, and be around individuals who also love to read about and talk about babies is truly the best. Then sharing that knowledge with caregivers who want what is best for their baby is amazing.”
The warmline support consists of an infant specialist being available to talk with families. Families often call the warmline about a specific worry or question (crying, sleeping, feeding, infant development, and parenting). The family and infant specialist think together, work through strategies that families can try, and often touch on the ups and downs of parenting. The goal is for families to feel less isolated, increase parenting confidence, and open a window to a stronger relationship with their babies.
A unique component of FBN is that the parents or caregivers are the ones that guide the plan for support. Sometimes one or two phone calls are all a family needs and other times families can speak with an infant specialist on a weekly basis. It is truly up to the family as to what feels right to them.
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