Minding the Baby
Mind the Baby is a model used by the NSPCC to protect children aged under one year.
It is a home visiting programme to help high-risk, first time mothers develop positive relationships with their baby.
Minding the Baby is an early intervention programme designed to enhance the mother’s relationship with her child.
Minding the Baby involves an interdisciplinary, intensive, home visiting programme working with high-risk first time mothers and their families that lasts until the child’s second birthday.
Maternal trauma, mental health problems and social disadvantage can disrupt parent-child relationships. Disrupted parent-child relationships can result in attachment difficulties, behavioural, language and learning difficulties as well as destructive family and social relationships, including domestic abuse and child abuse (Howe, 1999).
The Minding the Baby programme, developed by Yale University, provides intensive support to young, poor, first-time mothers to enable them to care appropriately for their baby.
It is based in attachment theory and places particular emphasis on improving maternal reflective capacities (a mother's ability to understand child development).
The programme involves alternating home visits by a nurse or by a social worker. Visits begin weekly from the mother’s final trimester until the child’s first birthday. Visits continue throughout the child’s second year on a fortnightly basis.
The nurse provides ongoing help in relation to health and care-giving, whilst the social worker provides infant and parent mental health services and social services support.
Both the nurse and social worker provide developmental guidance, crisis intervention, parenting support and practical support.
The home visitors aim to keep the mother aware of her baby’s physical and mental states and enhance her reflective functioning by continuously voicing the baby’s emotions and intentions.
The NSPCC, in partnership with health services, is delivering this programme to first-time mothers aged under 25 who have additional or complex needs (for example, homelessness, poverty or depression).
Over a five year period, the service will work with 320 families in four areas across the UK.
In order to understand the impact of this service on improving outcomes for children, we will be undertaking rigorous monitoring and evaluation and sharing the findings of this.
We are particularly interested in learning about: improving the mother-infant relationship; improving maternal reflective capacity; improving maternal health and life course outcomes; reducing the incidence of abuse or neglect; improving infant health and development; and improving infant’s early attachment quality.
References and further reading
Howe, David, Brandon, Marian, Hinings, Diana and Schofield, Gillian (1999) Attachment theory, child maltreatment and family support: a practice and assessment model. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Slade, Arietta, Sadler, Lois S. and Mayes, Linda C. Minding the Baby: enhancing parental reflective functioning in a nursing/mental health home visiting program. In: Berlin, Lisa J., Ziv, Yair, Amaya-Jackson, Lisa, and Greenberg, Mark T. (eds) (2005) Enhancing early attachments: theory, research, intervention, and policy. New York: Guilford Press.
Slade, Arietta, Sadler, Lois, Dios-Kenn, Cheryl De, Webb, Denise, Currier-Ezepchick, Janice and Mayes, Linda (2005) Minding the baby: a reflective parenting program. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 60: 74-100.
Yale Child Study Centre. Community services
. New Haven, Conn.: Yale School of Medicine.
Yale Nursing Matters (2009-10) Minding the Baby: program helps young families in crucial early stage of baby’s life (PDF)
. Yale Nursing Matters 10(2): 8-9.
Contact the NSPCC Information Service for information on NSPCC services, children under one or any child protection topic