Looking after your child’s mental health starts from birth. Early childhood mental health or infant mental health focusses on the important years of 0-5 years. Vital lessons an infant learns through the caregiver relationship includes building of trust, learning to relay a need for comfort when scared or upset, learning about connections and relationships through attachment behaviours and exploring cause and effect through play and exploration. Whilst infants can’t tell you how they feel, many will express their emotional needs through changes in responses, in behaviours such as feeding and sleep and in the ways they connect to caregivers.
Some tips to boost infant mental health for parents include ensuring that interactions with their babies demonstrate a range of positive and warm emotions, responding to infant needs rapidly and appropriately, providing consistent safety, providing opportunities for the infant to have impact on their environment, for example through play and exploration, responding with love and soothing strategies when an infant is fearful so that they can learn to apply the same strategies to self-soothe as they grow, focussing on creating a secure and loving parent infant relationship and looking after your own mental health.