The Parent – Child relationship is key to your baby’s well being

Activities for you and your infant

Doing some of the following activities together daily will help you to develop a good relationship with your child:

Birth to 12 months:

Try some of these activities:

  • Play ‘copy my face’ with newborns – get close to your child and make funny faces and see if your child copies them, e.g. stick out your tongue; opening your mouth wide; play the emotional face games – happy and excited face and see if your baby responds.

  • Play ‘Peek-a-boo’ – get time when your baby is attentive, place your face close to your baby, put your two hands over your face and play peek a boo.
  • Play ‘legs and arms’ together – during nappy changing time, hold your baby’s hands and move them together gently in over and back motions, do the same with the feet/legs.
  • Look at books – introduce books as early as possible (around 3 months) let your baby get used to the feel of them. Use books with hard pages (board books) as this will suit the baby’s motor skills. Use books with real pictures (photographs), point to pictures naming the characters and characteristics. This will help develop their social, visual, language and hearing skills.

Download these tipsheets to learn how you can support your child’s play:

  Tip-sheet on play Parents of babies birth to 18 months








To find out more about the key messages for you and your baby go to





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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 ( and also on  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 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

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from

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