A service to improve the mother-child relationship
Minding the Baby helps first-time mothers aged 14-25 bond with their child, and recognise and respond to their baby’s needs. It is a home visiting programme that begins in the third trimester of pregnancy.
We commissioned University College London and the University of Reading to evaluate the service using a randomised controlled trial, dividing mothers into two groups. One group took part in Minding the Baby and another received treatment as usual in the form of their local primary and secondary care services.
We wanted to find out if Minding the Baby led to any improvements in the mother-child relationship and child development.
Authors: Elena Longhi, Lynne Murray, David Wellsted, Rachael Hunter, Katherine MacKenzie, Samantha Taylor-Colls, Peter Fonagy and Pasco Fearon
The study found no difference between Minding the Baby and treatment as usual for the primary outcome of maternal sensitivity - how well mothers recognise and respond to their baby’s needs.
There was also no difference in children’s cognitive development, maternal mental health and subsequent childbirth.
There was no difference between the Minding the Baby group and the treatment as usual group on security of attachment - how well children cope without their primary caregiver being present.
If level of engagement with the programme is considered, there was an improvement in security of attachment for mothers taking part in Minding the Baby who engaged with the programme.
The Minding the Baby group also showed a reduction in child behavioural problems at age 2 and less increase in parenting stress.
“It’s sad to see [Minding the Baby practitioners] go and sad that they are not in my child’s life.”
Longhi, E. et al (2019) Minding the Baby® (MTB) home-visiting programme for vulnerable young mothers: results of a randomised controlled trial in the UK. London: NSPCC.
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Services for children and families