Fifty Key Messages: Baby see, Baby do

Playing with your infant

Parents of children aged birth to 3 years:

Put some time aside to play with your child.  Your child will move from ‘exploring objects’ to imitating you, to pretending to be you (Baby See, Baby do – this is role modelling).  This is a great step forward in your child’s development as it indicates that they recognise you as somebody separate from themselves and somebody important that has separate feelings and thoughts about things.

Playing:

  • Play ‘copy my face’ with young babies. Babies only a few hours old will try to copy some of your actions like sticking out your tongue.
  • For a younger child, hold a mirror in front of their face and watch their reactions.
  • For an older child, give the mirror (preferably a light plastic framed one) and watch how they view themselves.
  • Get close to a younger child – Play ‘clap a clap a handies’ and watch baby’s attempts to copy you.
  • Put some time aside to play with your child. Role model building blocks and other games, but do not ‘correct’ the child if they cannot do exactly like you. It is important to let them learn at their own pace, but role modelling will help them develop.
  • Use correct names for items, such as soother, bottle, etc – this will promote language development.

To find out more about the Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/0-5years/

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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