Infant Mental Health Awareness Week
10th-16th June 2024

Speak up for babies

IMHAW 2024 ‘Speak up for babies’

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 10th – 16th June 2024 and this year’s theme is ’Speak up for babies’.

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What is Infant Mental Health Awareness Week?

Infant mental health is an often overlooked and misunderstood subject. Infant Mental Health Awareness Week provides an annual opportunity to discuss the importance of supporting babies’ mental health and wellbeing.

The Parent-Infant Foundation has set the theme and co-ordinated Infant Mental Health Awareness Week for eight years, during which time it has grown into a global event.

Why ‘Speak up for Babies’?

As we head towards a UK general election, Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 will call on candidates of all political parties to join our campaign to ‘Speak up for babies’. Too often babies are forgotten about during elections. Babies don’t vote of course, so it’s easy for politicians not to consider what support they need from policymakers. At least one in ten babies is living in fear and distress, at risk of disorganised attachment. Too often babies are overlooked. IMHAW 2024 wants to make sure babies’ voices are heard!

So we are asking candidates standing in the 2024 general election, from all parties, both current MPs and potential future MPs, to ‘Speak up for babies’.

How to get involved?

As part of IMHAW we are asking candidates to join the campaign to ‘Speak up for babies’ and share a photo of them with our campaign board on our photo wall and via social media. Please help us by asking your local MP or candidate to join the campaign. Find out more on our 'Ask your MP' page

Where practical, we will also encourage candidates to visit a specialised parent-infant relationship team, Family Hub or other service that supports babies.

We need your help to contact your local candidates as soon as possible in the coming weeks (if you are inviting them to visit during IMHAW in June). We have developed a stakeholder toolkit with a range of options for you to contact your local candidates. This also includes assets to help you promote and share the 'Speak up for babies' campaign messages through your communications and events in the lead up to and throughout IMHAW itself.

Get a copy of the 'Speak up for babies' Stakeholder toolkit here.

Events during Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

There are a number of events taking place during IMHAW. See below a few that might be of interest:

What else can you do to prepare or get involved?

Please keep checking back on this page and look out for updates on ‘X’ (@ParentInfantFdn @First1001Days) to see how you can support the campaign. We also send updates as part of the First 1001 Days Movement Newsletter so please subscribe using the form below to keep up to date on Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2024.

Previous Infant Mental Health Awareness Weeks

IMHAW 2023 Bonding Before Birth

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week took place from the 12th–18th June 2023, on the theme of ‘Bonding Before Birth’.

Why Bonding Before Birth?

Research shows that the experiences and relationships we have in the earliest years of our lives, including before birth, impact on the development of our brains. Stress and adversity experienced during pregnancy can have a negative impact on babies’ physical and mental health as they grow, but this doesn’t have to be the case. The services in place to support mothers, birthing people, partners and families in pregnancy can make a huge difference. 


During IMHAW 2023 we launched three new resources to highlight the importance of bonding before birth and the need to support parents:

  • The results of a survey of over 1,000 UK mums that showed pregnant women are not being supported to ‘bond before birth’, despite NICE guidance. See the full story here.
  • Our film explained why bonding before birth is so important:
  • Our Bonding Before Birth infographic - ‘Michelle's story’ details a case study of parent-infant relationship work.

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week is a chance to focus attention on the wellbeing, and social and emotional development of our babies and young children, and the importance of early relationships.

During the week there are local and national activities happening to increase understanding of infant mental health and to showcase the amazing services that work with babies and their families.

The Parent-Infant Foundation has set the theme and coordinated Infant Mental Health Awareness Week for six years, during which time it has grown into a global event. 

Why Understanding Early Trauma? 

In order to focus on the babies whose mental health and relationships are most at risk, this year’s IMHAW is focussing on #UnderstandingEarly Trauma.

Babies can experience psychological trauma when their environments are repeatedly harmful or threatening to them or to their parent or caregiver. Traumatic experiences might include physical and emotional abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic abuse or high levels of stress or conflict at home.

Trauma early in life is influential because the brain is particularly “plastic” and susceptible to influences in pregnancy and the earliest years. Because early development lays the foundations for what happens next, experiences at that stage can have potentially widespread and long-term consequences.

A significant predictor of how adversity will impact a child is the strength and security of their relationship with their parent. Without a nurturing relationship to support them, young children experience negative events as more traumatic. If the relationship between parents and a baby is abusive or neglectful, this can be more damaging than other forms of early trauma.

Understanding trauma helps us to understand why infant mental health and early relationships are so important.

New resources

This week we are launching three new resources relating to early trauma:

  • Our new policy report about the impact of early trauma on children, and how this is understood by the public and professionals.
  • Our new film explains more about early trauma.
  • Our new podcast mini-series explores our IMHAW theme #UnderstandingEarlyTrauma from different perspectives. The first episode is out today featuring a discussion between Lucy Morton and Andrew on trauma informed practice in a Scottish context.

Our new infographic tells the story of how trauma can affect children, and how we can mitigate its impact.

Comms Pack

Our Comms pack is designed for organisations who want to help promote IMHAW. It provides a range of content for them to use and help them think about how they could become involved with IMHAW. You can download our comms pack here.

IMHAW 2021 provided an opportunity for everyone working in the sector to raise awareness of the importance of babies' social and emotional development, and to share work they are doing.

2021's theme was "Including Infants". The goal of IMHAW's 2021 theme was to encourage everyone working in children and young people’s mental health policies, strategies and services to think about and include babies. Children and young people’s mental health should refer to the mental health of all children from 0-18 and beyond, but too often it is focussed on older children. During IMHAW21 we encouraged everyone to think and talk about infant, children and young people’s mental health, and to consider how babies’ mental health needs can be met.

  • Throughout the week we asked professionals in mental health to pledge to include infants when they talk about Children and Young People’s Mental Health. Over 100 professionals did so during the week with more following in the weeks after. If you would like to join the growing list of pledgers, there is still time to take the #IncludingInfants Pledge here.
  • The Parent-Infant Foundation released a survey of Children and Young People's Mental Health professionals which found a “baby blindspot” in both workforce development and mental health services.
  • The Foundation facilitated the All Party Parliamentary Group for Conception to Age Two meeting focused on IMHAW, "including infants" and the upcoming health and care bill.  You can watch a recording of the event on our YouTube Channel.
  • We released a new information film called ‘What is Infant Mental Health?’
  • Our Head of Policy and Campaigns, Sally Hogg, spoke at a number of events about the findings of our survey and "baby blindspot" in policy and services across the UK.  You can see a list of the events which took place during IMHAW here.

There was huge engagement in 2020's Infant Mental Health Awareness Week across the UK and around the world.

Face-to-face events could not take place because of the Coronavirus pandemic but IMHAW saw huge amounts of activity on facebook, instagram and twitter using the hashtags #IMHAW20 and #IMHAW2020. Analytics suggest that #IMHAW2020 was used in 7,400 twitter posts, reaching 14.2 million people!

During the week, the First 1001 Days Movement was re-launched with a new vision, mission and consensus statement. This was accompanied by an open letter to the Prime Minister about the importance of babies' emotional wellbeing and development. 

We created a new infographic explaining what infant mental health is and why it matters, see here

The Parent-Infant Foundation was very busy during the week!

  • We created an Infant Mental Health Briefing document for Commissioners explaining infant mental health, the role of teams and the impact of Covid-19, see here
  • We pulled together a rich resource outlining Online Infant Mental training resources for professionals, see here
  • Sally Hogg contributed to various blogs including: ACAMH: “Where is the I in CAMHS?”, iHV: “IMH matters now more than ever”, NHS Confederation: “Where is the ‘I’ in Mental Health?”
  • Karen Bateson contributed to the Mind Matters podcast, listen/watch here

Thank you to everyone who contributed and participated!