In light of infant mental health awareness week 2019 (AAMHI) I am writing this, as caring for mental health begins in early childhood. Secure and trusting relationships are at the heart of this and providing a strong bond between parent/carer and baby enables the ability for them to go on to form healthy relationships with others in later life.
Five simple ways to promote this:
1. Observe your baby, slow down and think ‘what is my baby trying to tell me’?
2. Respond promptly to your baby’s cues
3. Calmly and sensitively respond to your baby
4. Acknowledge your baby’s emotions and feelings and voice this to them, for example “I know you are sad because you are so tired” or “I know that hurt when you fell over”
5. Recognise achievements and mastery of skills, and use simple language to convey this, for example “I can see you put the blocks in the correct places” or “you tried so hard to turn the page and you did it”
Hopefully this has given you a gentle reminder about the importance of having awareness on this important topic. People are spending an increasing amount of time on screens, namely phones. I believe it’s so important to try and remove ourselves from screens where possible, and engage in those interactions and moments with our little ones. You will never get this time back!
By nurturing and stimulating our babies, we are giving them the best possible experiences for healthy brain development and setting them up for building trusting relationships as adults this also has a positive outcome when it comes to baby sleep.