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The importance of infant mental health

Looking after the infant mental health of young children in care who have experienced abuse or neglect is key to ensuring that they can recover and reach their developmental milestones.

The NSPCC has published this summary of research evidence as part of their effort to to transform trajectories for young children in care.

  • Children who experience abuse and neglect, like children who end up in care, are at greater risk of mental health problems and poorer outcomes later in life
  • Very young children are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect, and trauma can have a profoundly negative effect on their development
  • There is hope of recovery for maltreated babies and infants in care, but it needs to happen early
  • Stable relationships really matter, but many children who are in care get moved from one placement to the next, or returned to a home that can’t support them well
  • Foster carers need specialist support to give children the best care possible
  • And more needs to be done to help birth parents to care for their children – those they have now and any they may have in the future
  • Despite all the evidence, services designed to identify and look after the mental health of babies and infants are virtually non-existent
  • The effects of not intervening early are damaging not only for the child as they grow up, but also to society as a whole




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