New Start 4 Life Campaign to Help Parents Bond With Their Baby

A new government campaign Start for Life’s If They Could Tell You – has launched this week as a way to support parents in building bonds with their baby. 

It aims to highlight that babies’ expressions, reactions, noises, and cries are the way they communicate their needs and feelings to parents which in some cases can be an indication of their mental wellbeing.

By helping parents with young babies learn how to interpret these different cues it’s hoped they can better meet the needs of their little one.

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New Research Says Parents Need Help To Understand Baby

This initiative comes as new research by Censuswide suggests that are unaware of the link between their baby’s good mental health and early childhood development.

The survey looked into parents’ understanding of building a positive connection with their baby. It found that over half (53 per cent) believe that parenting advice they received in their baby’s early life was outdated.

This included methods such as letting the baby ‘cry it out’ and limiting physical affection to avoid the baby becoming clingy. Almost 1/3 of parents feel guilty for following this advice when their baby’s cues indicate otherwise.

Of the 2,006 parents of two-year-olds surveyed, more than two-thirds (73 per cent) of parents in the survey indicated they would welcome support in nurturing their connection with their baby further.  

Speaking on the initiative, 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 two years old is crucial for their future well-being. 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."

Tips For Meeting Your Baby’s Needs

The government have also released the following tips for parents on how to meet your baby’s emotional needs:

  • Mirror your baby’s reactions and emotions
  • Comfort your baby when they are crying
  • Enjoy playing face-to-face with your baby in everyday moments
  • Let your baby take breaks when they need them
[Read more about how to help your child's development here]
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