To celebrate Infant Mental Health Awareness Week Babies1st ran a conference: Sharing Best Practice of VIG in the 1001 Critical Days. The online event was attended by 51 delegates. Three presentations were followed by lively and informative small and large group discussions.

Emma Custance, Parent Infant Therapist and VIG supervisor, from Hertfordshire Perinatal Mental Health NHS Trust presented work with a postnatally depressed mother. She showed how you can support a shift within one session to help mother feel heard and understood in her pain, as well as to notice her capacity to be warm, maternal and loving toward her baby daughter.

Rachael Hammond, Children Centre Practitioner at Richmond Borough Children Center, Achieving for Children, had just completed her VIG training under the auspices Babies1st as part of the Empowering Parents and Professional Project, funded by What Works for Children’s Social Care. She demonstrated how micro-moments can activate a mother, who struggled with self doubt and low self esteem. The giggle of her toddler’s pleasure helped to spark mothers delight in her baby and herself as a parent.

Moni Celebi, Parent Infant Psychotherapist, Movement Therapist and National VIG supervisor, showcased her work with a group of homeless parents and babies in a Temporary Housing Facility. Moving footage from this Baby Bonding Group demonstrated the profound impact of benign visual images. VIG in this group encouraged the development of loving, secure relationships, as well as mutual support between parents.

Discussions centred around the benefits of VIG in the 1001 Critical Days, and how preventative work is cost effective compared to ‘fixing problems’ later on. Attunement and sensitive parenting as promoted by VIG are the building blocks for co-regulation. Hence VIG should be a service offered universally and funding was needed to ensure secure service delivery.

There was also a recognition of the parallel processes, between parents and babies and practitioners and parents. We need to nurture professionals, so they can nurture families.