Worried about a child

Good mental health

Support healthy social and emotional development

Responsive relationships help build positive attachments that support your baby’s healthy social and emotional development. These relationships form the foundation of good mental health for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.

An infant’s world is usually pretty small. Infants grow up among family, friends and community. They learn about themselves and the world around them through the relationships they have with the people in their lives. Babies who are made to feel loved and cherished learn that they are lovable. They then grow up feeling good about themselves and develop friendships more easily. You cannot spoil your baby by responding to their needs. By responding to their needs your baby will become more confident and independent in later years.

Stress is something as adults we come to accept and manage. Babies and young children are unable to recognise and cope with situations that cause stress in their lives. Instead, they can show their stress and anxiety in physical and emotional outbursts.

What can I do?

  • Surround your child with nurturing relationships.

  • Be happy and show it.

  • Create a trusting and loving environment.

  • Provide stable and consistent caregivers at home and in childcare.

  • Try to understand your child’s cues and respond.

  • Spend unhurried time together.

  • Comfort and reassure.

  • Respond to your baby.

  • Learn about developmental stages and have appropriate expectations.

  • Have good relationships and ways to manage conflict.

  • Your actions and mood may affect your child.

  • Identify early signs of emotional or mental problems.

Unusual behaviour

Sometimes stress can lead to a ‘tic’- a sudden, repetitive, non-rhythmic movement involving a distinct muscle group, like an uncontrolled eye blinking. Head banging or banging the head against a wall or cot on purpose is another common behaviour, especially in boys. They are not trying to be naughty or annoying. Your Doctor can advise if there are additional concerns. Once the Doctor gives your child a clean bill of health, the best thing to do is just ignore the tic, help minimise stress and make sure your child is getting enough sleep.


How do I bond with my baby?


Use eye contact, smile and hold them up so you are face to face. Encourage ‘turn taking’ - giving time for your baby to respond to your verbal and facial cues.


This contact, support and security will help your baby develop in many ways.