Infant and Toddler Mental Health Services

The first 4 years of a child’s life has a profound impact on later development. Personal experiences and their environment greatly affects brain development. Positive mental health now helps assure a bright future.

Infant mental health therapy is a mental health service provided to caregivers with children ages birth to five. The therapy consists of using music, touch, and play to help either the child or parent adjust to life stressors and build their relationship.

Sometimes babies can be difficult to soothe because of their temper, premature birth, or other biologically based challenges. This can eventually cause parents distress and confusion.

Babies can also sense the emotions or stress of their caregivers. If the caregivers are unable to cope with life stressors and keep a routine a baby may have difficulties such as:

  • Fussing
  • Sleep problems
  • Disruptions in eating
  • Withdrawal
  • Lethargy and unresponsiveness

Toddlers may show signs of stress by:

  • Sleep problems
  • Disruptions in eating
  • Increased tantrums
  • Toileting problems (e.g. wetting him/herself)
  • Increased clinging to caretaker
  • Withdrawal

Other reasons for therapy:

  • a child who has experienced an early or difficult event
  • a parent with a mental illness who needs help reading the cue of their infant
  • an adopted child attaching to their new parent
  • a child who has experienced a traumatic event
  • a parent whos child was born with a special need who requires some special bonding time with their parents
  • and many more.

Common questions about infant mental health:

1. Can babies really be affected by a traumatic event in their life? Yes, just because memory or verbal skills have not fully developed a baby can be affected by the event. You may notice a change in their behavior such as being more clingy or a change in their sleeping or eating patterns.

2. What are goals for Infant Mental Health therapy? Goals for therapy consist of promoting the emotional well being of the child and their family. Through education and attachment based strategies there is a reduction in risk factors for emotional problems.

3. So when you talk about about emotional problems, can a baby have depression? Yes, depression can develop as young as 2-3 months old. To add, a baby may also have difficulties regulating their emotions, have attachment issues, or other developmental issues.

4. What does a session look like? First, the caregiver meets with a therapist to gain an understanding of the concerns of the infant or toddler. After this session a treatment plan is developed. The following sessions, the caregiver and baby or toddler will practice a variety of techniques (play and touch) with the therapist.

5. What is unique about an Infant Mental Health therapist? The therapist is trained in child development, parenting techniqes, signs and treatment for the mental health of an infant and toddler, and attachment.

 

Infant Mental Health Brochure