Infant mental health learning pathway

Emerging Minds, Australia, March 2023

Resource Summary

This pathway is designed for anyone who works with infants, toddlers, parents of young children, and families. It invites practitioners to broaden their working context from being solely adult-focused or solely infant-focused, to considering the whole family.

When people think of ‘mental health’, they often think of older children and adults. But infants and toddlers can and do experience positive mental health and mental health difficulties. The early years of a child’s life – from conception to toddlerhood – are vital in shaping their long-term mental health and wellbeing, making prevention and early intervention a key focus for practitioners.

At this age more than any other, a child’s caregiving relationships and environment are crucial in determining their mental health outcomes. Practitioners in all services have an important role to play in identifying the signs of mental health difficulties in infants and toddlers, and supporting parents in their role as caregivers.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that the resources in this learning pathway may contain imagery, audio or names of people who have passed away.

Explore our online courses around infant mental health

Supporting infants and toddlers

This online course explores the impact of mental illness on the family through the antenatal period and explains attachment and principles of sensitive communication with parents regarding the needs of their children. You will learn about parenting interventions and strategies to effectively support families.

Keeping the infant and toddler in mind

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This course will provide you with an introduction to a relationship-based framework that promotes the mental health of children aged 0-5 years.

Practice strategies for infant and toddler assessment

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This course builds on the foundational knowledge of the Keeping the infant and toddler in mind course by expanding on the ally, advocate and awareness of relationship framework. It presents five practice strategies that promote the mental health of children aged 0-5 years, keeping infant and toddlers’ developmental and relational needs at the centre of assessment interactions.

Promoting infant and toddler mental health with parents

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This course explores the ways practitioners can support parents, by providing reassurance, guidance, information, or resources, to promote positive mental health in their infant or toddler. This is referred to as ‘anticipatory guidance’.

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