Infant mental health refers to how well a child develops socially and emotionally from birth to three.
A baby in the first 6 months of life is completely dependent on parental care. Not only for their physical needs but also for emotional regulation and protection against stress.
During this time the baby doesn’t even know that they are separate beings to their Mothers’. When their Mother looks at them with love they do not see their Mother. They see themselves as reflected back through her i.e. that they are loveable. This allows the infant acquire an understanding of themselves as loveable and deserving of good things, of others as safe, trustworthy and reliable and of the world as a safe place to explore where good things will happen to them.
While the baby is dependent on their parent, they are also capable of and interested in engaging with their parent. They respond to their parents thoughts and enthusiasm in, what is called, a protoconversational way. Think of how Mothers will “talk” to their babies and the baby will look into their Mother’s face; shape their lips into an “O” shape and coo/ooh/ah in response. This is an exciting time of constant change and learning where the brain is constantly rewiring itself based on everyday experiences and exchanges between the parent and the infant.
The truth is, what we pay most attention to in these early months defines us as people because our first attachments imprint on our brain and influence the relationships we have for the rest of our lives.
And while all of that might sound quite complicated, it truly isn’t because the best way to achieve it is via a back-to-basics approach to parenting