Through the group sessions carried out within Stepping Stones it was identified that some of the parent’s had anxiety around their babies’ developmental stages, such as weaning and sleeping. From this the team discussed how we could best support parents and designed a group called Baby Steps. This group was to be aimed at babies from 6 months to a year and would offer parents a safe space to discuss their concerns and anxieties and offer support around babies key developmental stages. The Early Learning team had the best range of skills and experience to deliver this group and took the initiative forward. Details about the group including where to register your interest and what the content would be were shared on our social media platforms and with our Bump Start team.
The first group had 5 parents and babies who regularly attended. The group welcomes all carers and is not restricted to just Mum.
Initially the main concerns highlighted within the group were lack of confidence to tackle things such as weaning, with a lot of fear around babies choking especially. A lot of the Mums also expressed that they did not know how to play with their babies as they “didn’t do much”.
We structured the group to run for 1 hour and 30 mins. This was to involve time to settle and have a chat with sensory toys available for the babies to engage with. Staff role modelled how to use these, interacting with the babies and explaining that this would help develop their child’s speech and language as well as social skills. An option to engage in some messy play was also offered, as we know from speaking to parents that this something the lack the confidence, time and resources to tackle at home. We then have a more focused discussion each week covering weaning, sleep and brought in Edinburgh First Aid to deliver a Baby First Aid course.
As the group progressed it was evident that the parent’s interactions with the babies had changed, they were immediately engaged with the toys and not embarrassed or shy within the group to get down onto the floor with their baby and play. They also engaged in some good free flow conversations with each other, sharing experiences such as what new foods they had tried this week and offering advice to one another such as what worked well for them or the latest gadget to try. In turn the babies were more relaxed and enjoyed their interactions with mum.
At the end of the first block staff asked parents to complete an evaluation form. Feedback from these included;
“This Group has been a life changing experience for me. ”
“We have enjoyed all the sensory play; I wouldn’t do this in the house normally.”
“Attending baby steps gave us structure to our day and gave us something to look forward to.”
“Being able to speak with others helped me get through some days and had a positive impact on my mental health. I gained confidence as a new mum and I know that if I ever needed support later on, Baby Steps would be a great place to look for it. ”
This group has been such as success that the next block is full and we now have a waiting list in place to ensure that all families with babies aged 6 months to a year have access to this resource. We continue to develop the group with the addition of collaboration with other professionals such as Edinburgh Community Food who carried out a weaning workshop with us recently. We are now also promoting the group with the local health visiting team so that we can reach families out with Stepping Stones.