Just like adults, infants and toddlers have mental health needs that influence their ability to develop and function within social relationships.
Positive mental health is directly linked to healthy social and emotional behaviors as the child grows up. Having a trustworthy relationship with a responsive and loving caregiver is vital to the mental health of a child.
Relationships help babies learn and grow
Infant-caregiver relationships are the primary focus of efforts for service providers, not only because infants are so dependent upon their caregiving environment but also because the relationship gives context to the little one’s ability to interact with the world around them.
A baby’s feeling of security in their ability to engage with the world around them allows them to learn and grow safely. They aren’t as afraid to take risks, to learn, and grow because they know their parent will be there to support them if needed.
How to support your baby’s mental health
Infant-early childhood mental health is the ability of developing children to create close relationships, learn about and manage their emotions, and explore the environment around them.
Parents directly support this through the ways they interact with their child, are attentive to their needs, and provide a safe, nurturing environment. Parents can support their child’s development through everyday activities. For example:
- During dressing time, parents can be patient with their child, explain what they are doing with positive words, and praise the child as they assist with the activity.
- During meal time, parents can look to really connect with their child by talking to them, singing, look them in the eyes, smiling at them, and paying attention to their needs.
Know your baby’s big milestones
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. You are their first teacher and advocate. You are their biggest supporter.
Tarrant County offers a free online site with resources and screenings to help provide any desired direction on your next steps with your child. Remember, if you see something concerning, act early.