Infant mental health refers to how well an infant (newborns to the age of three) develops socially and emotionally. Specifically, this refers to: developing the ability to form close and secure adult and peer relationships experiencing, managing and expressing a full range of emotions exploring the environment and learning
How to promote Infant Mental Health
Infant mental health can be nurtured through a secure and stable relationship with their caregiver. This is done by what caregivers do, the things they say, as well as through the environment created at home.
It includes even small things that caregivers may do without even noticing it, such as talking to your infant and spending time with them. In particular, noticing and responding to your infant’s cues can help to nurture your relationship with your infant as well as support their mental health.
Learning to understand your infant’s unique cues
Cues refers to the sounds and movements infants make. These can include facial expressions, vocalisations, body movements and reactions. Cues can be as subtle as an opening hand or widening their eyes.
Cues let us know something about the infant’s needs, their emotional state and physical
state. In other words, cues are an infant’s way of communicating with us. Caregivers can
learn to understand what an infant is trying to communicate by:
understand your infants cues every time! However, become a curious observer of your
infant and their cues. Continue trying to understand what your infant is trying to
Responding to you infant’s cues
As cues are a way for your infant to converse, it is important for caregivers to respond to these cues. This involves responding sensitively and promptly. By responding to your infant’s cues, it helps the infant make sense of the world. It lets them know that their caregiver will respond to them when they are feeling insecure, it makes them feel safe, creates a predictable routine and creates trust.
Understanding and responding to your infant’s cues is just one way that you can promote your infant’s mental health. It is also very important that caregivers take care of themselves and their own mental health, in order to continue to build a secure and stable relationship with their infant.
If you would like support regarding your infant’s mental health or your own mental health, please contact Hopscotch and Harmony to discuss further.