June 7-13 marks Infant Mental Health Awareness Week.
Now more than ever, we should turn our minds to the thousands of babies born in Scotland each year (especially those born during the pandemic) – into a society of heightened stress and anxiety.
A baby’s experiences can have a profound impact on the rest of their life. But, unfortunately, this is a stage of life that is too often overlooked and undersupported.
When children are very young, they are at their most vulnerable to harm. They are at a critical stage of development and completely rely on adults who care for them, as they cannot voice their needs or seek support.
We know that being a parent can be extremely difficult at times and, when parents feel overloaded with pressures, coping with the needs of very young children can be a struggle. This can have a significant effect on the parent’s mental health and their ability to care for their baby.
One million neural connections every second
Our Look Say Sing Play campaign highlights to parents how their everyday interactions with their baby can impact their development.
Providing early support to families can help build positive relationships that prevent harm
Parents are encouraged to take a look at what their baby is focusing on and how they react, to say what they are doing and copy the sounds their baby makes, and to sing along to their favourite song or play simple games to find out what their baby enjoys.
A child’s brain makes one million neural connections every single second, and positive and supportive experiences with parents and carers from birth can help children learn how to control their emotions, cope with stress and develop new skills that serve as a foundation for later life.
More early support is needed
Providing early support to families can help build positive relationships that prevent harm and, in turn, can have a positive effect on children’s lives.
Through our Fight for a Fair Start campaign, we are urging the Scottish Government to provide support for all families who need it, so that every child is given the chance to thrive.
Any adult worried about a child, or any parent who needs some extra help or advice, can contact 0808 800 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Childline is here for children, for free and confidential advice, on 0800 1111 or at childline.org.uk.
Joanne Smith is policy and public affairs manager for NSPCC Scotland