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Baby In Mind

How a parent’s touch transforms children’s lives

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When a baby is gently touched, special nerve cells in the skin (called C-Afferents) become active. These cells signal  the baby’s brain to calm their breathing, heart rate and emotion. This also helps the baby make sense of other people’s voice and face: in turn, shaping their sense of security. The baby’s brain also responds to touch by increasing the flow of the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin.

Researchers (and more researchers) increasingly believe this cascade of hormones and calming responses provide the key to unlocking the brain’s capacity to develop social skills, empathy, attention and future resilience against stress and trauma.

Early interactions involving touch have a life-long impact on us all:  improving behaviour and mental health at primary school age.  Early affectionate responses can help reduce rates of mental illness by up to 50%, and increase mental well-being and resilience, healthy relationships and life-satisfaction in adulthood. And it is these connections that are the single greatest predictors for a long-life and healthy old-age (more about that here, and here).

There is, however, a small catch.

Touch – just on its own is not  enough to support these outcomes. Touch is most effective, when it is adapted and used in response to the emotional needs and feelings of each individual baby.

For some parents and babies, this early affectionate relationship comes easily , and is built without conscious effort. But researchers estimate that anywhere between 13% and 20% of all babies miss out on the interactions important in infancy, to such an extent it impacts on their early development.

However, affectionate, responsive, high-touch interactions can be  easily supported. Simply increasing responsive affection for babies most at risk,  may dramatically improve outcomes…even when other barriers cannot be removed.  For example, the impact of increased affection on babies is so powerful, research (and more research) has shown it can eliminate the toxic effects of poverty on early brain development, within a single generation. It can buffer babies against the developmental challenges of parental postnatal depression. And it can even change the activity of our genes.

Despite overwhelming evidence, governments still provide no systematic  funding to support touch education for new parents – particularly for those who would benefit the most. Baby in Mind is the only Australian charity working to change this.

We provide and fund the only accredited training available to health and early childhood workers in high-quality touch education and promotion skills. High quality touch education is simple, fun and effective… and is accessible to all families.

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you’ll become part of a movement ensuring the future becomes a stronger, kinder and safer place for all our children.


Baby in Mind is a registered children’s charity based in Australia.

We offer free and subsidised training to anyone wanting to see all babies enjoy the life-long benefits that come from early relationships that are loving, healthy and secure.

Mass shootings and the art of loving babies.

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This article discusses violence, suicide and child trauma. 

Another week. Another mass shooting of children and teachers in America. In the wake of another indiscriminate mass-murder of children and their helpers, as a health care worker, I again find myself re-evaluating the purpose and role of my chosen profession.

Here I sit, on the other side of the world and still, somehow, the images reach me.

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Make early connections part of every child’s story

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Donate to Support Parent-Baby Relationships

Use our secure online donation form to support Baby in Mind reach more families. 100% of your donation goes into programs, and nothing else. We do not spend any donations on fundraising, non-program or peripheral costs. Donations of $2 or more are tax-deductible in Australia.

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Make a tax-deductible donation to child mental health

tax-deductible donation to child mental health

and we’ll turn it into a tax-deductible investment.

You probably already know

You are not a stranger to our work. Most people already know that the work of Baby in Mind makes a profound difference to babies and their families in our community. You probably already know that our work is evidence-based.

Every day, the type of early intervention we support is being linked to more and more outcomes. When we improve the quality of these early relationships we are directly reducing:

  • rates of chronic illness such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • child abuse and neglect risks and vulnerability.
  • childhood mental health issues, and adult mental illness.
  • social breakdown: including loneliness, violence and lack of empathy.
  • community breakdown: including crime and education exclusion.

If a baby is hungry and they get fed, and if they are stressed get comforted, the brain wires itself for trust, empathy, learning, connection and participation. But if he or she is hungry and not fed, and stressed and not comforted, the brain wires itself for fear, disconnection and mistrust. It’s not just about economics. It’s about relationships: “Poor kids who have someone feeding them and interacting with them do well, and the well-to-do kids who don’t have this care do badly.”

Researchers can tell the difference in the brain wiring as early as 100 days. “And that fist 100-day period is predictive of where kids are going to be at 3 and 5 years”  (Halverson, 2017).

And at 50 years.

This has been forgotten by governments

There are dozens of charities with big budgets doing a great job of looking after the food, money and physical needs of families who need it.

And a growing number of organisations are increasingly taking an active role in providing infant mental health and relationship support in the first 100 days.

But the knowledge and skills for staff to do this, don’t just come out of thin air.

Baby in Mind is the only Australian organisation providing vital, evidence-based infant mental health promotion skills at the grass-roots. Our focus is on training. Rather than spending money on more services, we train health professionals and community workers who are already supporting families. We’re content to work behind the scenes where we can have the most sustainable impact.

We’ve been doing this for almost 25 years. And despite our programs being used in hundreds of community, government and small business settings, we don’t receive any government funding at all.

Your tax-deductible donation to child mental health is an investment

A donation involves giving money away to provide a program. Once the program is finished, your donation has finished its work.

But for us, we do things differently.

A donation to Baby in Mind is used to support training. As a result, your tax-deductible donation to child mental health is still having an impact, long after it has been used. Because we focus on training people who are already working with families, they will continue using these skills well into the future with more and more families. And because we start early in life this helps target your donation to the greatest possible long-term impact.

In other words, we’re not merely asking for a tax-deductible donation. Rather, a tax-deductible investment in the long-term health and well-being of our whole community.

 

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