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Boost your babies’ mental health

by Cathy Sheel

The importance of babies’ social and emotional development during the first 1001 days of their life is being highlighted during Infant Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 June).

The theme for this year’s Infant Mental health Awareness week, is ‘understanding early trauma’ and aims to focus attention on babies’ whose mental health is most at risk.

It also seeks to highlight the way secure, nurturing parent-infant relationships protect children from the impacts of early adversity.

Cllr Margaret Harvey, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “The earliest days of a child’s life are so important as they lay the foundations for what future life outcomes & we know that early trauma can have long term consequences. It’s important we work with partners to support parents through this crucial stage in their child’s development.”

Find out more about Infant Mental Health Week.

Building stronger bonds with your baby

Having skin-to-skin contact with your new baby – having skin to skin with your baby helps them to regulate their emotions and can have a very calming affect on both parents and babies. It helps babies to feel safe and secure and supports parents to bond with their babies.

Read to your baby – It is never too early to read to your baby. Babies will enjoy the bold patterns and repetition of simple story books and will come to anticipate the pictures, rhythms and sounds of those most familiar. Your baby will also begin to learn about which words and pictures go together.

Talking to your baby, singing songs and rhyming – babies are always listening to your every day conversations, this helps with their understanding of the world. Singing with your child helps them learn and grow. When you sing a song together, you’re helping them build a strong and healthy brain.

Giving hugs and high-fives – When a child reaches out for affection, and you give them a hug or high-five, you’re doing more than being kind, you’re helping to build their self esteem.

Support available to parents in Knowsley

By working with parents to develop positive, relationships with their babies, specialised parent-infant teams like the Building Attachment and Bonds Service (BABS), run by Merseycare NHS Foundation Trust, can increase the likelihood that a child will have a happier, more stable start to life, and they’ll be less likely to experience behavioural and emotional problems in later childhood and adulthood.

The service has been co-delivering the antenatal and postnatal ‘Getting to Know your Baby Programme’ with Knowsley’s Early Years’ Service supporting parents to ‘hold their babies more in mind’.

For more information visit Building Attachment and Bonds Service (BABS) :: Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust