What is infant mental health?

"Infant Mental Health refers to the social, emotional, and cognitive well-being of a baby who is under three years of age, within the context of a secure and nurturing caregiving relationship."(Fraiberg, 1980.)

Many people have never heard of Infant Mental Health, and when they do, it can conjure many different ideas. We tend to think of mental health in terms of pathology, or things that have gone wrong. Infant Mental Health focuses on services that help babies and parents develop strong and secure relationships from the start.

With Infant Mental Health practice in mind, a core goal of services at The Center for Infant and Family Resources, LLC, is to help parents recognize their baby’s individual strengths, accomplishments, and needs, and to find pleasure in their relationship with the baby.  Each experience a baby has actually helps form the physical structure of his or her brain. Babies grow and learn directly through their relationships with the most important people in their lives – their mothers, fathers, siblings, caregivers, and others they spend time with.

When babies are responded to consistently and lovingly, they learn that they have value and are important in their world. They are able to form healthy attachments to their caregivers, and these first healthy relationships form the foundation for the relationships that follow.  Research shows that babies with responsive caregivers during the first year of life develop healthier relationships, have higher self-esteem and resilience, are better able to handle stress, and perform better in school.

​ Most new parents learn about how to respond to babies’ physical needs. But just as important for health is learning what a positive relationship with a baby looks like. When parents reach out and learn about their own baby’s temperament and ways of responding to the world, they can learn to most appropriately respond to that unique baby’s needs. When they learn how to positively interact
with their baby, they set the foundation for a healthy attachment.  What a great start to a happy and productive life!

The center for infant and family resources, llc



Oakton, VA 22124