The importance of infant mental health isn’t always recognised in the same way as it is for older children and adults.
Babies develop positive mental health through receiving consistently responsive and loving care which teaches them that the world is a safe place. This helps them to better manage their emotions and form positive relationships as they grow and develop. When babies learn how to do this early on they grow into toddlers and children who are better prepared for exploration and learning.
Why is infant mental health important?
Advances in science are showing us that the kind of environment babies experience and, in particular, the parenting they receive physically shapes their developing brain. This process begins even before the baby is born.
There is now a wide range of evidence that demonstrates the importance of the period from conception to age two in terms of laying the foundations for later life, including physical and mental health, language development and learning.
Early emotional wellbeing is a key factor in determining to what extent individuals will make the most of life’s opportunities, including education, and how they will manage later relationships with partners and their own children.
Investing in the development of a loving, trusting and secure relationship between parent and baby is crucial for later outcomes including readiness for school.
All parents can access support regarding caring for their babies from their midwife, health visitor or children’s centre.