Baby with Parent and Nurse

Building Strong Bonds for Baby's Mental Health

A new national campaign, "Start for Life - If They Could Tell You," aims to help parents build secure bonds with their babies. This directly impacts a baby's future mental well-being.

The campaign highlights that baby's cries, noises, expressions, and reactions are their way of communicating their needs and feelings. Learning to interpret these cues is key to meeting a baby's needs and fostering a strong bond.

The first two years of life are crucial for a baby's development. During this period, their brains form a million neural connections every second! These connections, built through interactions with the parents, lay the groundwork for their physical and emotional health, both now and in the future. Secure relationships with parents and caregivers have a positive impact on a child's development and can even reduce the likelihood of mental health challenges later in life.

Start for Life offers easy-to-follow guidance on their website to help parents build strong bonds with their baby. 

Minister for Public Health, Start for Life and Primary Care, Dame Andrea Leadsom, said: 

"We are committed to giving every baby the best start in life, and promoting that vital secure attachment between babies and their parents in the 1,001 critical days from pregnancy to 2 years old is crucial for their future wellbeing."

Speaking with parents across the country, I’ve heard first-hand that they need more support around how to better build those connections. Parents can access a range of support and advice, in person via family hubs and on the Start for Life website.

We are also launching new guidance for frontline practitioners, aimed at helping them to start conversations with parents about building their relationship with their baby."

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, said:

"A strong, loving connection between parents or carers and their baby can play a significant role in developing the brain and protecting their mental health as they grow up.

This campaign will make it easier for parents and carers to interpret the way their baby is communicating with them and understand how best to meet their baby’s needs.

Raising a baby is not easy and I hope that new NHS trusted advice provided through the campaign will be a helpful source of information and support to parents and carers.

New guidance for frontline practitioners will also help start conversations with parents and carers to explore their relationship with their baby, in order to provide support."

Photo Credit: iStock

NHE March/April 2024

NHE March/April 2024

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In episode 42 of the National Health Executive podcast we were joined by Steve Gulati who is an associate professor at the University of Birmingham as well as director of healthcare leadership at the university’s Health Services Management Centre.