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In Brief: Infant Mental Health

According to the National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families or “Zero to Three” (, 2016), the first three years of life are a substantial period of growth in all areas of a baby's development:

“A newborn's brain is about 25 percent of its approximate adult weight. But by age 3, it has grown dramatically by producing billions of cells and hundreds of trillions of connections, or synapses, between these cells. While we know that the development of a young child's brain takes years to complete, we also know there are many things parents and caregivers can do to help children get off to a good start....”

For example, when a mother reads to their pregnant belly and then continues a daily reading routine to their baby in the postpartum period, they are stimulating their child’s brain growth and helping them to build a robust vocabulary. Next, when parents reverse roles and eventually let the child begin to read the book back to them, they are instilling confidence, academic skills, and social-emotional skills. These may seem like very simple and typical interactions between a parent and young child, however this is not always the case for every family in America. For disadvantaged or at-risk families, sometimes child abuse and neglect may be prevalent which can prevent children in those environments from building positive attachments or performing basic foundational child development activities. Additionally, untreated mental health concerns may also be evident which can prevent an opportunity for the parent and child to have interactions that create healthy patterns for life-long learning. Consequently, providing care for the parent and baby is a critical intervention for prevention.

IMH is an evolving area of opportunity that has ignited new research in neuroscience and psychotherapy. IMH has equipped Coach Debbie's practice to address maternal mental health, child developmental delays, and the critical attachment period between the parent and infant child.

IMH is rooted in the understanding that developmental outcomes emerge from infant characteristics, caregiver-infant relationships, and the environmental contexts within which infant-parent relationships take place. From an infant mental health perspective, parents are interacting participants in the developmental process, which does not permit a dichotomization of nature and nurture.

All in all, the theory of IMH validates that an infant and family thrives as part of a relationship. Coach Debbie's hope is to help families build positive and loving relationships, heal from past or reoccurring trauma, and find harmony as a family. This notion of relationship continues to lead the work of Coach Debbie as a Marriage and Family Therapist and serves as the lens to providing distinctive, collaborative, and strength-based services to families.

Coach Debbie is available to speak and share more on Infant Mental Health with your organization, church, women's group, school or medical settings. Contact Debbie personally to have her create a unique presentation for you by simply clicking "Message" above or email our team at

To learn more, contact Coach Debbie:

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