The Parent-Infant Foundation publish ‘Securing Healthy Lives’
09 February 2022
Today, we publish our latest report ‘Securing Healthy Lives’ drawing on research in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg area of Wales to explore opportunities to improve the parent-infant relationship across the country.
Difficulties in the relationship between babies and their parents, if left unaddressed, can store up problems for the future, sometimes many years later. In this ground-breaking research, we gathered views from parents and spoke to local practitioners about how they support families to develop a strong bond between babies and their parents. We were delighted that the Health Board in Cwn Taf Morgannwg commissioned this project and are committed to developing local services in light of its findings.
Thought to be the largest UK survey of parents on this topic, our research found that:
- Parents rated the quality of parent-infant relationships with their baby as the third most important influence on child development, just below the impact of violence in the home and parental drug use.
- Only 35% of parents felt there was enough relationship support available to them
- 65% were not asked about their relationship with their baby
- Whilst only 3% of parents had received direct help for their parent-infant relationship, 93% of those parents found that support helpful.
We also found many examples of good practice across the Cwm Taf Morgannwg region, where professionals from health, social care and voluntary organisations provided skilled support for parents of very young children. There had also been recent investment in staff training and service development.
Our findings have prompted a call for the Welsh government to address four key areas:
- Ensure specialist support for parent-infant relationships is available in every part of Wales
- Develop a workforce strategy so that there are skilled professionals to support parent-infant relationships
- Amend maternity guidance to ensure it includes support for parent-infant relationships
- Ensure assessment tools, such as those used by health visitors, include prompts about the parent-infant relationship.
Dr Karen Bateson, Head of Strategy and Development at the Parent-Infant Foundation said:
“It’s surprisingly common for a parent to struggle to bond with their baby. This report highlights the importance for a parent to seek help if they don’t feel their relationship with their baby is quite right and shines a light on all the ways professionals can support families to get that relationship back on track”.
“When parents are facing poor mental health or stress, the relationship with their baby can be affected. It is essential that they receive specialist support to ensure a strong bond with their baby.”
You can read the full report here.