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A letter from your baby

June 12, 2017

This week is Infant Mental Health Awareness Week. As a member of the Australian Association of Infant Mental Health Inc., I wanted to use this opportunity to highlight the importance of the early years to our children’s development.

Speaking at the first awareness week, Clair Rees emphasised that:

“Good mental health begins in early childhood. When a baby has the opportunity to form a secure bond with their parent or caregiver, this can support their potential and ability to form healthy relationships throughout life”. Research evidence now confirms a direct link between difficulties in infant parent-child bonding or attachment and psychiatric disorders in later life.

Yet as the below letter highlights, these early years can be demanding for both babies and parents:

Dear Mum and Dad, This first year is pretty intense, isn’t it? You’re adjusting to huge changes in your world. So am I! It’s going to take time and patience for us to figure things out together. I can’t tell you in words yet what I feel and what I need. A lot of the time you’ll have to guess, and you won’t always get it right. But please keep trying. Just the way you keep trying reassures me that you love me, and that’s the most important thing I need to know/. When you look at me and smile, it feels wonderful.......
Read and download the Complete Letter. Made available by permission from Andrew Roberts, author.

For me, this letter is a beautiful invitation to see the world through the eyes of your child, a notion which is at the heart of supporting their emotional journey. You might like to try this out by spending a few minutes just ‘being with’ your baby, watching and wondering what he or she would say to you right now.

The importance of the early years

The early years are so vital. If you are feeling things are not as you would like, don’t put off seeking support. As an Occupational Therapist with interest in supporting social and emotional development, I use the Marte Meo approach to assist parents in developing supportive communication. This powerful yet affirming process, which originated in the Netherlands and is used worldwide, focuses on helping parents build on their own strengths so they can in turn support their child’s development.

If you are interested in gaining more confidence in supporting your child’s social and emotional development (or ‘being with’ your child) please contact me.

If concerned for your child’s health and development, seek advice from your GP or child health nurse. I believe the early years matter too much to just ‘wait and see’.