Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 - Seeing The World Through Babies’ Eyes at Tweddle

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 – Seeing The World Through Babies’ Eyes at Tweddle

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Any parent or carer with a baby is experiencing the world like never before in our lifetime. Infant Mental Health Awareness Week (8th – 14th June) has the theme; 20:20 vision – seeing the world through babies’ eyes. In the midst of a pandemic, Tweddle is asking how infants might be seeing the world right now and how can we all help.

Infant Mental Health Awareness invites government, industry, community and families to consider the distinct needs of babies and toddlers. It highlights the need for investment in services like Tweddle, who strengthen relationships between parents and babies in the critical first 1000 days.

We know that babies and toddlers rely on their carers for security in stressful times. COVID has seen parents, many of them first time mums and dads, struggle with conflict, sadness, job loss and loneliness without the expected support of social, community and family networks.

For parents, anxiety in response to COVID-19 may bring up specific memories and a heightened sense of vulnerability. Babies and toddlers may sense changes in their parents’ stress levels. Some will respond to their changing environment through cues such as distress, unsettled behaviour, withdrawal, hitting or sleeplessness.

Babies may be experiencing parents who are unresponsive, scared or frightening. Some babies born during COVID-19 are experiencing their parents and carers with faces obscured by masks.

Scientific research informs us that babies learn a lot about the world and relationships through facial expressions. This includes learning about what responses they prompt when they smile, cry or yawn. Mirroring of infant facial gestures is central to the development of a baby’s neural matching pathways for these gestures.

Whether you are a parent wearing a mask, an isolated parent or a parent experiencing adversity, we make the following recommendations to help strengthen your baby or toddler’s mental health today, tomorrow and for the future.

Supporting Infant Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • If you are experiencing depression, anxiety or family violence, seek support. Your baby feels your stress. Their emotional wellbeing and mental health is directly linked to your emotional wellbeing and mental health.
  • Playing, singing and reading with your little one will bring them great joy and let them know they are safe and loved. Hearing your calm voice and feeling your touch will soothe them.
  • Predictability and age appropriate routines provide feelings of comfort, safety and security.
  • Practice Mindfulness – allow time to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. Tune into what you’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. Be kind to yourself.
  • Be their calm to their chaos. Comforting and nurturing your child helps to regulate their emotions.
  • Reach out for help and advice. We have listed a number of help lines below.
A letter to mum and dad

Tweddle is commemorating Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 and the theme 20:20 vision, ‘seeing the world through babies’ eyes, with messages to parents from babies, translated as letters of love and hope for the future. Infant mental health refers to how well a child develops socially and emotionally from birth to age three. Understanding infant mental health is the key to preventing and treating the mental health problems of very young children and their families.

While at Tweddle parents learn about what a baby needs from their relationships and the importance of tuning into their child. Activities and enrichment programs at Tweddle include music, reading, play and understanding cues.

These day to day actions let a baby or toddler know that they are loved and safe. When relationships are reliably responsive and supportive, they can actually buffer young children from the adverse effects of stressors.

Tweddle, clinicians work on addressing the stressors on the family therefore reducing the stressors affecting the babies and toddlers. Infant Mental Health defines a young child’s capacity to experience, regulate and express emotions, form close and secure relationships and to explore and learn. Earliest relationships matter for building babies brains at Tweddle.

During Infant Mental Health Awareness Week Tweddle will be sharing daily updates on social media. Follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn #IMHAW20

Where to go for help and advice:

During Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, we ask that you consider making a tax deductible donation to the Tweddle Foundation. This will support the sustainability of Tweddle and the programs we provide across Victoria to parents and carers of babies and toddlers experiencing adversity.

by Kerrie Gottliebsen


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