Babies in Mind
Research has shown that many mental health conditions are preventable if the correct care is given early on in life, particularly in the first three years. It has been shown that £10 spent on providing a sure footing for a child's mental health and wellbeing can save up to £70 in the costs of care and support in adolescence and adulthood.
What is Babies in Mind and who is it for?
Our early intervention project, based in Sutton, aims to reach expectant mums during their pregnancy. We began this project by working with pregnant women to reduce the toxic effects of stress on the development of their unborn child.
Once the baby has been born, mothers are offered video interaction guidance, an intervention which encourages caregivers to reflect on how they interact with their baby by showing them video clips of naturally occurring positive bonding moments.
We target families at greater risk of having children who may develop emotional, social and behavioural problems. This could include families where parents have mental health problems, may have been in care themselves, may have a history of substance abuse or long-term unemployment.
The project also supports strong couple relationships to provide a stable family environment for young children. We provide support not just for mothers, but also for fathers to develop as valuable, supportive parents.
Babies in Mind is helping families from approximately the seventh month of pregnancy until the child is 18 months old. During this time we will monitor the quality of parent-infant relationships, parental behaviours and attitudes, and the children's social and emotional development.
We will then continue to support parents throughout the first few years of their child's life, working with Home Start to match parent support 'buddies' with new families.
Why video interaction guidance?
This intervention has been shown to improve communication and attachment between mother and baby, and can help to protect the baby against developing emotional or behavioural problems in later life.
Video interaction guidance can help with our aim of mentoring and supporting the development of a strong bond between parent and infant and setting a template for effective parenting.
Who are we working with?
We are working with a range of organisations across Sutton to deliver this project, including Sutton CAMHS, Sutton Council and Home-Start, as well as GPs, midwives and health visitors.
Evaluating the project
We will evaluate the impact on the child at the age of two, at school starting age and at seven years old, and measure changes in parents' attitudes and parenting skills. The lessons learnt from the interventions will help to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of other vulnerable children.
We will offer recommendations for future provision by statutory services, voluntary sector organisations and GPs. We will provide evidence on the impact and effectiveness of this new model of infant health promotion and, with your support, can provide evidence-based recommendations and guidelines to improve the lives of more families.