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Broken Sleep?: Insights into biology, culture and parenting in today's world.

4 June - 30th November 2021


BROKEN SLEEP? Insights into biology, culture and parenting in today’s world. 

Viewing Extended - streaming until October 31st 2021


This conference will explore issues relevant to any professional health worker or volunteer working with new families in the first years of their baby’s life. Topics include practical strategies for supporting parents with infant sleep and breastfeeding including effective communication with parents around infant sleep, factors influencing family sleep arrangements; and sleep patterns in breast and formula fed babies as well as reviewing the research around the biology of infant sleep in the context of modern culture.


Early Bird discounts – Register by May 10th to SAVE! Student and Group Discounts are also available.

09:00 AM Parent-infant sleep conflict: Consequences and potential solutions - Professor Helen Ball
10:00 AM Is it time for a new paradigm of infant sleep support? - Sarah Ockwell-Smith
11:00 AM The sleepless orchid: Understanding the link between high sensitivity and sleep problems - Tracy Cassels
12:00 PM The First 1000 Days - Nathan Wallis
01:00 PM How the cry-it-out sleep training method became authoritative knowledge - Jennie Rosier
02:00 PM Sleep disordered breathing in babies and young children - David McIntosh
02:45 PM Breastfeeding and new mothers’ sleep: A unique Australian time use study - Dr Julie P Smith
03:15 PM The neonatal gut microbiome - Dr Vincent Ho
04:15 PM The unique infant brain and sleep - Greer Kirshenbaum
05:15 PM Nighttime parenting with multiple-birth infants and toddlers: Co-creating win-win sleep strategies - Karen Kerkhoff Gromada
06:15 PM Supporting fathers mental health in the transition to fatherhood - Levita D’Souza
07:00 PM Lactose intolerance, colic, reflux and cow’s milk protein allergy - Shel Banks
08:00 PM The neural basis of parental care and infant attachment in mammals - Kumi O Kuroda
08:30 PM Webinar End: Times are indicative running times only and can be watched in your own time frame
SPEAKERS: Professor Helen Ball, Dr Julie P Smith, Tracy Cassels, Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Nathan Wallis, Jennie Rosier, David McIntosh, Dr Vincent Ho, Greer Kirshenbaum, Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, Levita D’Souza, Shel Banks, Kumi O Kuroda
Professor Helen Ball
Professor Helen Ball
PhD. MA, BSc (Hons)

Helen Ball obtained her PhD in Biological Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1992. Her undergraduate degree was in Human Biology, and her interests span both biology and anthropology. Helen spent several years in the Caribbean where she conducted her PhD fieldwork. Following her appointment as a Lecturer in Anthropology at Durham in 1993 Helen began a programme of research on night-time infant care, established the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab in 2000, and was promoted to Professor of Anthropology in 2007. Broadly defined, her research examines sleep ecology, particularly of infants, young children and their parents. This encompasses attitudes and practices regarding infant sleep, behavioural and physiological monitoring of infants and their parents during sleep, infant sleep development, and the discordance between cultural sleep preferences and biological sleep needs. She has conducted research in hospitals and the community, and contributes to national and international policy and practice guidelines on infant care. See She pioneers the translation of academic research on infant sleep into evidence for use by parents and healthcare staff via ISIS -- the Infant Sleep Information Source website (


Dr Julie P Smith
Dr Julie P Smith
PhD, BEc (hons), BA, Cert IV Breastfeeding Ed/Counselling

Dr Julie Smith is an awarded Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Honorary Associate Professor at the Research School of Population Health, Australian National University. She is also a Fellow of the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.

Her research focuses on gender analysis, taxation policy, and economic aspects of breastfeeding, with more than 45 peer reviewed articles, book chapters and books. She has been an expert advisor to national and international governments and NGOs.

She is a co-founder of WBTi Australia, and a former ABA director.


Tracy Cassels
Tracy Cassels
PhD., B.A.

Tracy Cassels, PhD is the director of Evolutionary Parenting, a resource she founded for families in 2011 after the birth of her daughter. Currently she works directly with families consulting on a variety of parenting-related matters, but most specifically on sleep, and she also runs various self-paced courses for families on various topics.  Tracy serves as an Adviser to the Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership, a non-profit agency dedicated to ending routine infant circumcision.  She has previously worked in the non-profit sector in agencies focused on education and social-emotional development.

She has a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, also from the University of British Columbia.  The focus of her dissertation work was on empathy and theory of mind in young children. Her academic works have been published in peer-reviewed journals, including Psychological Assessment, PLoS One, Personality and Individual Differences, Midwifery, and more. 

She is married and is a mother to two young kids and a “bonus mom” to one older kid.  She lives in a small town in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada.


Sarah Ockwell-Smith
Sarah Ockwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith is a well-known childcare author who specialises in the psychology and science of parenting, ‘gentle parenting’ and attachment theory, with a particular interest in child sleep.

She has authored eleven parenting books, translated into over thirty languages, including the bestselling ‘The Gentle Sleep Book’ which has sold over 100,000 copies in the UK alone.


Nathan Wallis
Nathan Wallis
M.Ed (endorsed in Counselling), PGdDip Arts, B.Ed

Nathan Wallis has a professional background in child counselling, teaching and social service management. He was a board member and senior trainer with the national body responsible for the dissemination of neuroscientific research to professionals.

He has a reputation as an engaging speaker who uses humour and plain language to make this complex topic come to life. Nathan has appeared on radio and TV shows in New Zealand.

His consultant practice delivers professional development training in the area of neuroscience discoveries and the practical implications for everyday practice.


Jennie Rosier
Jennie Rosier

Jennie Rosier is an associate professor of communication studies at James Madison University, director of the Relationships, Love, Happiness Project, host of the Love Matters podcast, and author of a textbook, 3 popular press books, and several digital workbooks.

As an expert in romantic and parent-child relationships, Jennie focuses on helping others create more realistic expectations while enhancing the communication skills needed to maintain these bonds including empathy, respect, and attachment; often with an emphasis in interpersonal neurobiology.


David McIntosh
David McIntosh

Dr David McIntosh is a paediatric ENT surgeon and an adjunct associate professor based in Queensland.

He specialises in managing upper airway obstruction in children and adults. He is an internationally recognised specialist in the field of the interplay between ENT and dentistry. He lectures internationally on the topic of snoring and its deleterious effects on health and wellbeing.


Dr Vincent Ho
Dr Vincent Ho
MBBS, BSc (Med), MMed, SLEEP? MClinEd, FRACP, PhD

Dr Vincent Ho is a clinical academic gastroenterologist and leads the Translational Gastroenterology Research program at the School of Medicine focusing on basic science and clinical research in the gut.

He has a particular interest in the gut microbiome. Vincent is the gastroenterology education content convenor for the School of Medicine, has written extensively for The Conversation (over 6.3 million views) and has been interviewed on radio, television and newspapers.


Greer Kirshenbaum
Greer Kirshenbaum

Greer Kirshenbaum has a BSc in Neuroscience and a PhD in Neuroscience and Medical Science. She was a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Fellow at Columbia University.

An infant and family sleep specialist and a doula, Greer’s company, Nurture Neuroscience, is on a mission to revolutionize the future of health. Greer wants families and perinatal practitioners to understand how early caregiving experience can boost success, thriving and flourishing and diminish depression, anxiety and addiction in adulthood. We can promote a lifetime of health by shaping babies’ brains through simple intuitive nurturing experiences in pregnancy, birth and infancy.


Karen Kerkhoff Gromada
Karen Kerkhoff Gromada

Karen has been an IBCLC since 1991 and has worked in both private practice and hospital settings. She became a La Leche League (LLL) Leader in 1975, forming the first LLL group for mothers of multiples, after the birth of her twin sons.

She wrote the book “Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins or More”, co-authored the book “Keys to Parenting Multiples” plus numerous articles and chapters about breastfeeding and caring for multiples. 

She co-founded a local group, RISCS (Resolving Infant Sleep Controversies Safely). A former ILCA president, she was designated Fellow of the International Lactation Consultant Association (FILCA).


Levita D’Souza
Levita D’Souza

Levita is a registered counselling psychologist and lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Monash University. She has worked in public and private settings before commencing a career in academia.

Her research interests are in the area of perinatal psychology, adverse childhood experiences and its impact on attachment patterns and subsequent parenting practices. Her current research projects are looking at psychological factors affecting first-time fathers as they transition to fatherhood, and factors influencing parenting choices in relation to infant sleep.


Shel Banks
Shel Banks

Shel Banks works part time in the NHS as well as having a private IBCLC practice seeing new families in the UK, and online. She also offers training for health professionals and for families on various infant feeding and baby care topics.

Shel is a member of the committees of many national bodies working in infant feeding. She has contributed to the guideline development committees for three NICE guidelines and assisted with the development of three Cochrane systematic reviews, as well as being an active volunteer.


Kumi O Kuroda
Kumi O Kuroda

Kumi obtained her medical degree in 1997 later followed by a year of psychiatry internship and PhD at Osaka University in 2002.

She studied the neural mechanism of parent-infant relationship as a postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Michel Meaney at McGill University and then at RIKEN Brain Science Institute. She has been the head of the Laboratory for Affiliative Social Behavior at RIKEN since 2008. She is a mother of four boys.






Broken Sleep 2021 Abstracts

Insights into biology, culture and parenting in today’s world.

4 June to 30 September 2021


Helen L Ball, (Prof) PhD, MA, BSc
Parent-infant sleep conflict: Consequences and potential solutions – 1hr

Disrupted sleep and fatigue are common challenges for parents in their baby’s early life, causing distress, loss of enjoyment and for some, depression. Health practitioners generally lack training and tools to help parents experiencing difficulties with infant sleep, and available approaches emphasise infant sleep problems rather than parental support. In this talk we will discuss the implications and consequences of sleep disruption for parents and babies, and consider a wide range of strategies for helping parents to cope with typical infant sleep behaviour.

Sarah Ockwell-Smith
Is it time for a new paradigm of infant sleep support? – 1hr

With the sleep training industry growing exponentially, Sarah asks “is it time for a new paradigm of infant sleep support?”. Should we shift the emphasis from giving tired parents advice on sleep training their babies, to a ‘normalise, support and optimise model’? Where infant sleep is normalised, parents are supported and helped to optimise their child’s sleep as much as possible, without traditional sleep training. Sarah covers the numerous shortfalls of regular sleep training and how this alternate model supports parents to be the experts of their own child’s sleep needs, both now and in the future.

Tracy Cassels, MA, PhD
The sleepless orchid: Understanding the link between high sensitivity and sleep problems – 1hr

Families parenting a more sensitive child - known in research as “orchids” - will often report far greater struggles with sleep than others. Coupled with this is often an intense need to breastfeed and sleep close to their caregivers, though families often fear creating bad habits. The goal of this talk is to provide a biological framework by which we can understand the unique needs of an orchid child and the parenting practices crucial to helping them thrive. With this knowledge, care providers can help set realistic expectations, to counter cultural narratives that can harm these families, and provide advice to help families navigate parenting these unique children.

Nathan Wallis,  M.Ed (endorsed in Counselling), PGdDip Arts, B.Ed 
Sweet Sleep Is Bedsharing safe for breastfeeding families – 1hr

Nathan provides a summary of the latest research on the structure of your brain and how this impacts on everything we say and do. To understand how this structure comes about means re-examining your early life and the first 1000 days. The First 1000 Days of your life will shape what kind of person you will turn into. In contrast to what your parents believed, it’s not just about your genes and it’s not about learning alphabets, numbers or colours. It’s about being in a safe, loving and interactive environment. The more love and positive interaction you experience in your first 1000 days of life, the more developed your brain will be with a lasting positive impact. 

David McIntosh, MBBS, FRACS, PhD
Paediatric sleep disordered breathing – 0.75hr

In this discussion, Dr David explains what sleep disordered breathing is, what parents and health care professionals need to be vigilant for, and explains the clinical pathway that may lead to the best outcomes for managing a child with sleep disordered breathing. Participants will understand the spectrum of diagnoses within the broad definition of sleep disordered breathing, identify potential symptoms, and understand treatment options.

Julie P Smith, PhD, BEc (hons), BA, Cert IV Breastfeeding Ed/Counselling
Breastfeeding and new mothers’ sleep: A unique Australian time use study – 0.5hr

Do infants fed with breastmilk substitutes sleep longer than those exclusively or partially breastfed, and what does this mean for the mother? What expectations are realistic for mothers desiring to exclusively breastfeed as recommended? Julie will discuss the results of her research, using a unique time use dataset purposefully designed to study the time use of new mothers, the study investigated whether duration of maternal sleep, sleep disturbance, unpaid housework, and maternal free time differed by detailed feeding method.

Dr Vincent Ho, MBBS, BSc (Med), MMed, MClinEd, FRACP, PhD
The neonatal gut microbiome – 1hr

Recent advances in the field of genomics has resulted in enormous gains in our understanding of the human microbiome. Evidence now supports a relationship between early and appropriate establishment of the neonatal gut microbiome, and long-term immune and metabolic health. This session will explain what helps and what hinders the development of the infant gut microbiome.

Greer Kirshenbaum, PhD
The unique infant brain and sleep – 1hr

Infancy, from 0 to 3 years old, is the most explosive time for brain development where an incredible one million connections per second are formed in the brain. Genetics and experience together build fundamental brain structures that support lifetime health. In this presentation Greer covers exactly how the brain grows in infancy, how sleep is fundamental to the developing infant brain and the importance of responsive relationships and coregulation during stress on the developing brain.

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC, FILCA
Nighttime parenting with multiple-birth infants and toddlers: Co-creating win-win sleep strategies – 1hr

Sleep deprivation is a significant issue for many parents, more so with parents of multiples. How are parents of multiples to meet their own sleep needs while also respecting the physical and emotional night time needs of each unique infant within a multiple set? Current “safe sleep” strategies, including safer approaches to bedsharing, which may seem perfect for the single infant may be less safe and difficult logistically to implement with multiple infants. This session will examine factors contributing to disruptive sleep for parents of multiples and explore strategies to meet the sleep needs of infants and parents.

 Levita D’Souza
Supporting fathers mental health in the transition to fatherhood – 0.75hr

This presentation will describe fathers’ psychological needs during the transition to fatherhood. Paternal mental health and its influence on maternal mental health, and father infant bonding and attachment will be explored. The current research on fathers’ experiences in the transition to fatherhood will be described. The presentation will conclude with recommendations for father inclusive practice.

 Shel Banks, IBCLC
Lactose intolerance, colic, reflux and cow’s milk protein allergy – 1hr

This presentation will overview the definitions of gastro oesophageal reflux and infantile colic, and the symptoms of cow’s milk protein allergy and lactose intolerance. This will provide participants with a good understanding of the right questions to ask to differentiate between the issues, and the knowledge of how to prevent, treat and manage the milk fed infant who is exhibiting symptoms.

 Kumi Kuroda, MD, PhD
The neural basis of parental care and infant attachment in mammals  – 0.5hr

Mammalian neonates are born immature. Thus mothers are equipped with innate motivation to nurture them. In mammalian species that live in a family group, such as mice, common marmosets and humans, fathers and older siblings may also nurture the young. The central part of the medial preoptic area (cMPOA), located anterior to the hypothalamus in the brain, is the hub of caregiving network in the parental brain. The Transport Response, the infant cooperation to parental carrying, will also be introduced as an example of primitive attachment behavior, with some implications about baby soothing and sleep.


IBCLC CERP Provider No CL2021-1AU 9.5 Lcerps & 2.5 R cerps Total Education hours = 12 Australian College of Midwives – 12 CPDs pending

PRICE: Regular Full Price $198 (inc gst)
  •  Full Registration - $198 (inc gst)

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