Infant Mental Health

BabyThe emotional health of your infant or toddler can be more difficult to assess and many parents are unaware of the signs of a child with emotional health problems.  Sometimes your child’s behaviours can be frustrating and just a phase or normal.  Other times a child can be struggling for unknown reasons.

Symptoms of an infant that may indicate a problem include excessive crying, poor sleep when there is no clear problem (i.e. teething), poor feeding, lack of eye contact or slowed physical development. Working out whether there is a problem includes reviewing the home environment, parenting routines, usual diet, time of challenging behaviours, mental health of parents, siblings involvement and play activities.

Usually we will request that you bring information on your babies developmental history, such as weight, height, time they started to roll, talk and discuss the pregnancy and maternal health.  Many times anxiety during the pregnancy can cause irritability in infants and children for up to 5 years after birth and mothers can make changes to their interactions to improve emotional focused development.  A visit to the GP for a review can be helpful and infants can have a mental health plan for symptoms of emotional distress under Medicare.

During the 1st years of life it is important the children are given labels to their emotions, are provided with comforting and safe play and sleep environments and that they have adequate monitoring.   Some solutions can include behavioural strategies, changing the routine,  co-parenting more effectively, gaining social support more often.  Some parents struggle to find a bond with their baby and others find they they are unable to leave their child without feeling panic.  All of these sorts of problems can be discussed in counselling and often there are several strategies to improve your situation and child’s behaviours.

Infant mental health is equally important as the mother’s emotional and there are many way to provide counselling to both mother and infant.  Infants are eligible for a mental health plan under Medicare if there are emotional health concerns.  Please call 1800 877 924 for more information or email