MP's Call For Baby Bonding Lessons For New Parents July 16 2013

The All Party Parliamentary Sure Start Group have released their report entitled "Best Practice For A Sure Start: The Way Forward For Children's Centres" this week.

Put simply, the report recommends that new parents should receive guidance on how to build and maintain intimate and affectionate relationships with their child through early communication.

As a therapist working within Children's Centres myself, I very much welcome the findings of this report. Parents and children deserve to have access to advice on how to bond, talk, play and sing with their baby from birth, in order to give them the best start in life.

John Bingham from The Daily Telegraph reports:

All new parents should be offered lessons in smiling and singing to their babies to help close a “shocking” gap in levels of child development, a committee of MPs and peers has recommended.

Many parents need help with matters as basic as speaking affectionately to their children, the parliamentarians warn. They believe that offering parents support with activities such as reciting nursery rhymes, or reading stories to their children or even simply praising and cuddling them to help them bond could dramatically improve those children’s life chances.

The committee, which has spent a year examining the operation of state-run children’s centres, is calling for a national programme to make basic activities designed to help parents bond with their babies universally available.

They are also calling for fathers to be treated as an “equal party” alongside mothers at parent and toddler groups and similar services to encourage them to play a more active part in their children’s upbringing.

I'm really pleased with the special mention Dads have received in the report. Dads are so important in their children's development, it is crucial to highlight this.

We have produced a video on the very subject of Dads and their role in child development.

It follows growing evidence that children who form “secure attachments” in the first two years of their life are less likely to fail at school, become involved in crime and ultimately fail in their own relationships.

The call comes in a report by the All party Parliamentary Sure Start Group chaired by Andrea Leadsom, the leading Tory MP, which calls for services such as community midwives, health visitors and children’s centres to be made to work more closely together.

It also draws attention to a string of reports showing that children whose parents do not interact with them and exposed to language are less likely to succeed in life.

One recent study estimated that children from the poorest households have heard 23 million fewer words by the time they start school than those from the wealthiest homes.

“Despite considerable investment in early education and early childhood services there is still a shocking and unacceptable gap between the poorest children and their better off peers when they reach school age,” the report says.

It recommends that all children’s centres – the council run advice and support centres for parents – to be required to offer activities, already in place in some areas, to boost children’s early brain development.

The report recommends making “singing and story sessions” universally available and including training on how to speak to children in “affectionate tones” to be made a core part of all antenatal classes.

“They should help parents overcome any sense of shyness or embarrassment about doing so, particularly in public,” the report adds. “Dads should be encouraged to take up an active role in their baby or child’s life, particularly in communicating with them.”

Anne Longfield, chief executive of the charity 4Children, which supports the report, said: “It sounds very basic but we know that the failure to bond with your baby and develop attachment and indeed, as time goes on, develop communication skills are absolutely are the epicentre of the ability to succeed in life.

“We know that communication skills and language skills are the things that hold most people back later on.”

Our videos are full to bursting with this exact type of advice and our Best Beginnings video which covers from bump to the first 6 months of life is where to start!

Article by John Bingham Daily Telegraph

Photo credit: Tampa Band Photos / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND