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The Core Story

This infographic sets out the core story of why relationships between parents and their babies in the first 1001 days are so crucially important. It was co-created by a wide range of professionals, coordinated by the Parent-Infant Foundation. Importantly, the infographic makes it clear that BOTH tackling adversity AND supporting early relationships are important in giving children the best start in life.

Baby Brain Facts

There is a growing body of research to support the importance of the first 1001 critical days. This infographic pulls out some key facts and statistics to support the case for action.

References to support the facts and statistics in the infographic are listed below.

  1. Babies hear at around 24 weeks of pregnancy, recognise familiar voice at birth, and prefer faces to other shapes. There are many studies that now support these claims. Some of the early papers include:
    • Karmiloff‐Smith, A. (1995). Annotation: The extraordinary cognitive journey from foetus through infancy. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36(8), 1293-1313.
    • Goren, C. C., Sarty, M., & Wu, P. Y. (1975). Visual following and pattern discrimination of face-like stimuli by newborn infants. Pediatrics, 56(4), 544-549.
    • DeCasper, A. J., & Fifer, W. P. (1980). Of human bonding: Newborns prefer their mothers' voices. Science, 208(4448), 1174-1176.
  1. In the first years of life, more than one million new connections are formed every second in a baby’s growing brain.

    This is one of the Five Numbers to Remember about Early Childhood Development selected by the Harvard Center on the Developing Child (2009). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

  2. A range of research shows that the way parents interact with their babies predicts children’s later development.

    We struggled to select one study or fact to capture the huge wealth of evidence about the importance of parent-infant interaction. There is a range of research about the importance of parents’ behavioural responses to their children (sensitivity) and the way they think about their babies (capacities such as reflective function, mentalisation and mind-mindedness). Research also shows that the things parents do with their babies (such as how babies are fed, and activities such as reading, talking and singing) can make a difference to early wellbeing and development.

  1. Children’s development in the early years sets them on a positive trajectory. Children’s development at just 22 months is linked to their qualifications at 26 years.

    This fact comes from Leon Feinstein’s analysis of the 1970 Birth Cohort Survey (BCS) Feinstein, L. (2003). Inequality in the early cognitive development of British children in the 1970 cohort. Economica, 70(277), 73-97.

  1. Family income and education is strongly related to children’s development. Babies in higher income families are more likely to have frequent caregiver-child conversations. By age 3, babies with university-educated parents have been found to have vocabularies 2-3 times larger than those whose parents had not completed school.

    The Early Intervention Foundation’s report Key Competencies in Early Cognitive Development contains a summary of the evidence about early language development, including the importance of family income. The statistic about gaps in language development at age three is one of the Five Numbers to Remember about Early Childhood Development selected by the Harvard Center on the Developing Child (2009). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

  1. When parents experience problems in the first 1001 days it can have long term impacts on their children. One study showed that children whose mothers were stressed in pregnancy were twice as likely to have mental health problems as teenagers.

    This fact describes a study by O’Donnell et al. that showed that if a mother was in the 15% of the population with the worst anxiety and depression during pregnancy, this doubled the risk of her child having a mental disorder at 13 years of age. It is important to note that the risk doubled from 6% to 13% – the majority of children whose mothers were ill did not go on to develop a mental disorder in their teens.O’Donnell, K., Glover, V., Barker, E. D. & O’Connor, T. G. (2013). The persisting effect of maternal mood in pregnancy on childhood psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology

  1. 8,300 babies under one in England currently live in households where domestic violence, alcohol or drug dependency and severe mental illness are ALL present.

    This statistic comes from the Children’s Commissioner’s 2018 report A Crying Shame.

  2. Adults who reported four or more adverse childhood experiences had 4- to 12-fold increase in alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide attempts compared to those who experienced none.

    This fact is from the ACE study: Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., & Marks, J. S. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American journal of preventive medicine, 14(4), 245-258.

  1. Rigorous long-term studies found a range of returns between £4 and £9 for every pound invested in early intervention for low income families.

    This is one of the Five Numbers to Remember about Early Childhood Development selected by the Harvard Center on the Developing Child (2009).

  1. The Heckman Curve was sourced from https://heckmanequation.org/resource/the-heckman-curve

What is Infant Mental Health?

This infographic, created for Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, describes what infant mental health is and why it matters. It explains the fundamental role of early relationships and how infant mental health lays the foundations for a range of important outcomes.