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Baby in Mind Educator Wins Award

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Linda on her last visit to Uganda, sharing skills with local workers and mothers.

Linda is currently looking for sponsors to provide training to local staff in Uganda, to help support early mother-baby relationships in families traumatised by rape and abuse. If you are in a position to assist, please contact Baby in Mind.

Congratulations to Baby in Mind educator, Linda Davis, who this week received an award for the highest academic achievement for a NSW student graduating from a vocational education course in a health faculty. Linda’s journey has been an extraordinary one, marked by courage and resilience, over an almost 10-year period, after travelling to Uganda on a trip that would change her life.

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Children’s books for supporting very early mental health and well-being.

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Caring for young children can be exciting, joyful, annoying, messy, frustrating, painful, boring, uplifting and exhilarating all at the same time.  Some of us take to parenting like a duck to water, some of us struggle through, making it up as we go along. But no matter the range of emotions, challenges or victories that we deal with each day, parenting young children is never easy.

On those hard days it can be a struggle to feel like a “good” parent. We worry that somehow we are harming our kids, that somehow something we do along the way is going to make things go wrong for them.

And, as it turns out, there is no big secret to giving our little ones the early foundations for a sense of confidence, belonging and self-worth:

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Four Books That Help Explain Babies

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The saying that ‘all babies are different’ has become a bit of a cliché, though there is a truth to it and it does explain – at least in part – why there is no technique that works for every baby, all the time.

But if there is no technique that works for every baby, all the time, then presumably the opposite is true too: some techniques – for settling, feeding, soothing crying – must work for some babies, some of the time.

So how can parents find which technique works for their individual baby? Read More

Why we need to deal with the uncomfortable issue of children’s mental health

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Warning: This article discuses death, suicide, violence and child abuse.


This year, in Australia, an estimated 315 babies and pre-schoolers will be diagnosed with cancer. Most of them will go in to remission, however around 25 of these children will not make it (Cancer Australia, 2016).

It is true: the numbers of children dying from cancer used to be much higher. But – largely as a result of extraordinary donations to fund research and health services – we now see many more children survive childhood cancer than dying from it. Fortunately, most of us will be spared from having to watch a child in our family or social circle battle this horrific disease.

But…despite all these advances, each little life is important. Each one matters. In the 0-4 age group, cancer robs children of their childhoods and families of their children. Childhood cancer robs us all of our future Environmental Warriors, Artists, Pioneers and Heroes. We lose so much to early childhood cancer. Twenty five little lives lost is still too many.

The question is, how do we find those final pieces of the childhood cancer jigsaw puzzle? How do we make sure the funding doesn’t dry up? How do we make sure we can keep our best scientists, doctors, and nurses working to ensure that cancer no longer poses a threat to our children?

Here is a statistic that may hide one of the missing pieces:

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Noni Hazlehurst, AM, on the work of Baby in Mind

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Noni Hazlehurst, AM, is known to almost every Australian, and is loved by just as many. Children’s charity, Baby in Mind, is honoured to have Noni support our work.

For 24 years (in a 43 year career that is still going), along with a host of critically acclaimed film and TV roles, Noni came in to our lounge rooms almost every day as presenter of the ground-breaking children’s program Playschool. She taught us how to solve problems and transform the ordinary by sticking scraps together with a bit of masking tape. She sang to us, read to us, engaged us in play and – most of all – made us feel that we were OK just the way we were. She let us know we were important, that what we did, what we made and what we said mattered.

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The First Touch Program: Using infant massage to support family relationships and brain development

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By: Karen Craggs and Liz Hillyer, Junction Australia

Junction Australia is a community organisation working across all of South Australia, providing counselling, community support and housing services to families, children and young people. Our Point of Engagement program  is an early intervention home visiting service where we undertake intensive intervention with parents, or pregnant women, who are involved in drug or alcohol misuse, and their vulnerable new-born babies and children. Read More

We Can’t Show You This Photo of an Abused Baby

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(This article talks about child abuse and neglect, and contains video that may be upsetting)

Our organisation, Baby in Mind, is dedicated to promoting and supporting the bond between parents and babies. Although this bonding is ‘natural’, it doesn’t always come easily to many parents and for many families. It is normal for parents to grapple with feelings of uncertainty and doubt, and for love to take time. We support all parents in bonding with their babies.

But for some parents we work with, the bonding process is completely derailed.  Our educators who work in neonatal intensive care, drug recovery centres, psychiatric units, and child abuse services do some of the most harrowing work in the world: supporting parents (or foster parents) to help their babies love and trust again.

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How One Family Is Building A Village

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‘In the beginning of life, when we are infants, we need others to survive. At the end of life, we need others to survive. But here’s the secret, in between, we need others as well’ – Morrie Schwarz

One of the little rituals we have at the Baby in Mind office, is to stop at U&Co Café each day. The coffee shop is located, along with half-a-dozen other businesses, at my local neighbourhood shops, just a few blocks from where I live. And while there is nothing particularly remarkable about stopping at a local coffee shop to fill up on caffeine, there is something very remarkable about U&Co which – sadly – also seems out of place in today’s world.

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Essential Books About Infant Touch and Infant Massage

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Social touch between human beings has a profound impact on all areas of our lives, starting from birth when touch between parents and babies forms the basis of neurological regulation, social and brain development, our earliest social interactions and social learning. Social touch between parents and babies has the capacity to transform the possibilities for parent-baby relationships and, in turn, to expand and transform our relationships with all people. If we are serious about supporting healthy, human development, we need to understand the importance of the way that touch mediates the earliest experiences parents and babies have with each other. Here are our top ‘must-read books’ for parents and workers alike interested in infant massage and how touch creates who we are.

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Response to ‘How neuroparenting is sapping the joy out of life’ by Jan Macvarish

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You may never have heard of Jan Macvarish – I hadn’t until I came across an article of hers published on The Conversation titled “How ‘neuroparenting’ is sapping the joy out of family life’. The article does not paint a positive picture of neuroscience-informed policy and pokes fun at the use of “baby massage” as an intervention to support early childhood development. Read More

Five Year Accreditation Granted to Infant Massage Course

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Parents are often surprised to know that the majority of people who teach infant massage programs in Australia have only completed “hobby” or non-vocational courses in how to do infant massage or – in many cases – no training in infant massage whatsoever. However, in November, the Australian Government (via the Australian Skills Quality Authority)  re-accredited the National Competency Standards relating to the delivery of infant massage education.

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Prison bonds…of a different kind.

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Joanne Mulcahy is a Family Support Coordinator at the UK-based organisation, Prison Advice and Care Trust. Joanne is also trained to deliver a parent-baby program (known here in Australia as The First Touch Program). In an article originally published by IAIM-UK, Joanne writes:

It is difficult enough being a new parent without the stress of the dad being in prison. Mothers are coping alone at home – with the help of family and friends if lucky. In prison, dads are not able to do anything to help, have no chance of bonding with their new baby, and no chance to see important milestones…With up to 435 men at Swansea [a medium-security] prison there are quite a number of young men whose babies are born while they are inside.

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40% of new parents we work with are battling loneliness and isolation

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Each year, our educators work with an estimated 35,000 families in Australia to provide the First Touch Program and support parent-infant interactions. Since July 2016 we’ve started collecting data and feedback from some of those families about the impact the program has had on them. Over the past three months, this data has revealed a worrying trend, with 40% of parents completing the survey tool so far stating that they are battling feelings of significant isolation and loneliness.  Without support or opportunities to find and build connections, isolation can wreak havoc with a new parent’s mental health.

Perhaps also worrying is that 60% of parents completing the First Touch Program with our educators say that the program was “far more useful” than other supports that they have received as a new parent. While that is positive feedback for our educators and our program as a whole, it does continue to highlight the gaps in the government and social care systems that are available to all families.

The data collection is in early days yest, so these trends may yet change as more data is gathered.

The secret to a happy working life

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Here at Baby in Mind, we work with hundreds of people every year who are contemplating a career change. Midwives, nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, social workers, physiotherapists, remedial therapists, community workers, and even engineers and architects. Despite their diverse backgrounds, most of them share in common a sense of wanting to do something more, or something completely different.

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