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Recognising that infancy and early childhood is a critical time for the development of emotional, physical and mental health is the goal of Infant Mental Health Awareness Month.
Good infant mental health is the optimal social, cognitive and emotional well-being of children from birth to three years. It’s developed with secure and stable relationships with nurturing caregivers. This can happen in three main ways which have a positive effect on a child.
Firstly, by developing sturdy ‘brain architecture’, a solid foundation on which a lifetime of learning and productive participation in society can grow. A reliable caregiver who’s responsible to a baby’s needs is the basis for secure attachment which allows this foundation to establish.
Secondly, for healthy bodies and mind. This is developed with affection and protection by a nurturing caregiver. Broken caregiver-infant relationships can push a baby’s stress hormones into overdrive, which can disrupt brain and physical development. To overcome this, affection and protection by a nurturing caregiver are paramount.
Thirdly, for healthy relationships and behaviour. Children need relationships, or secure attachment, with sensitive caregivers to grow the building blocks of social function. Secure attachment helps with self-regulation, the ability to get along with others, solve problems and be productive.
For more information on the AAIMH (Australian Association for Infant Mental Health) or on infant mental health.


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