Nurturing Little Minds: Celebrating Infant Mental Health Week

Mother and Infant
A mother bonding with her infant.

Welcome to Infant Mental Health Week! This special week provides an opportunity to shine a light on the importance of nurturing mental wellbeing in infants and young children, laying the foundation for a healthier future.

Why Infant Mental Health Matters

Infant mental health encompasses the emotional and psychological well-being of children from birth to three years old. During these formative years, infants develop important emotional and social skills that will influence their ability to form secure relationships, manage emotions, and explore the world around them.

Human beings have an incredible capacity for growth and change throughout their lives. Even if someone did not have the best start, they can still develop and enhance their relationship skills in adulthood. However, where possible, we want to give infants the best possible start in life, and parents and caregivers have the opportunity to do this for the infants in your life.

The role of Parents and Caregivers

Parents and caregivers play a pivotal role in supporting infant mental health. The bond between a child and their parent forms the bedrock of a child’s emotional world. Positive interactions, such as responsive caregiving, consistent routines, and warm, loving attention, help infants feel secure and understood. This, in turn, fosters a sense of safety and confidence, crucial for healthy mental development.

Thankfully, most if this comes quite naturally to parents and if it doesn’t because you are tired and sleep deprived, you can try to focus on just a few of the following tips:

Tips for building a strong relationship with your infant

1. Foster Engagement:

  • Be Present: While infants are reliant on parents for their day-to-day survival it is important to make time to simply be with your infant too. Engaging in activities that capture their interest, talking, smiling, singing, and playing with them all stimulate their curiosity and interaction.
  • Follow Their Lead: Observe what your infant is interested in and join in their exploration. This shows them that their interests are valued and encourages active engagement with their environment.

2. Encourage Emotional Expression:

  • Comfort and Reassure: When an infant cries it can be upsetting as a parent, but when you remember that this is your infant’s only way of communicating it can help to stay grounded and provide comfort. Holding, cuddling, and speaking softly can help soothe and reassure your infant, reinforcing that they are safe and loved.
  • Give them Space: Infants can get overstimulated. So, if your infant looks away from you, they may need some space and that’s ok too. Let them close their eyes or lay quietly where they are.

3. Build Secure Attachment:

  • Create Routines: Where possible, establish predictable routines for feeding, sleeping, and playing as this helps your infant feel secure and understand what to expect. However, remember that it is not possible to follow a routine to perfection, you want to mostly follow a routine, but it does not have to be always. Also, remember that infants change rapidly so a routine that worked for a while may no longer work, and it is ok to then adjust the routine accordingly.

In all of this, remember yourself. You are human, so if you have days when it’s more difficult than others, or you don’t stick to the routine, or get frazzled when your infant cries it’s ok. Simply, show yourself the same kindness you would hope for from a friend and start again.

If you are consistently finding it difficult to bond with your baby, or if you or your baby are struggling, speak with your GP, or nurse as there are effective supports that you can access. Remember, you don’t have to walk this road alone.

Make an Enquiry

To find out more or make an appointment please call us on (02) 9136 0481 or fill in the contact form.