Ways you can support babies and young children with their feelings

Top tips from our Parent and Infant Relationship Service (PAIRS)

1. Help your baby or young child cope with change and stress

Young children are affected by changes in their routines and environments.

Babies notice and feel changes, and particularly differences in their parents’ mood. They sense fear and worry - even from conversations in another room or the TV in the background.

Be honest with your child, but don't go into all the worrying details.

Respond to your child’s questions so that worries don’t build up over time. 

Young children need simple answers that won’t scare them, and babies and young children need soothing and reassurance.

Read further on this page for more helpful tips about feelings, anxiety and sources of support.

The Parent and Infant Relationship Service (PAIRS) team provides group and one-to-one support to families.

You can contact them to discuss your needs and what support can be offered. Tel 0203 228 7370/07753 136 813 or Email PAIRS_Lambeth@slam.nhs.uk

If you have a baby aged 3-8 months, you may be interested in PAIRS Together Time groups which are run at local children's centres. 

2. Think about their feelings

Young children need help from adults to understand change and to explore their feelings. 

Watch, listen and play with your child to understand more about what they are feeling. Learn about the Big Little Moments that can help you build this into your day-to-day life.

You are the best person to soothe and reassure your baby or young child, especially when you know what is worrying them. 

Sometimes young children worry about things you least expect.

3. Think about your feelings too

There is no normal way to feel when faced with change or stress.  

Understanding your feelings, looking after yourself and reaching out for support are really important for your wellbeing. The better you feel, the more able you will be to support your little one.

If safe for your child, make time for yourself to rest and recover, especially if you are feeling stressed.

Focus on things within your control and give yourself time to adjust. Routines help you get through the day, but you don't need to have the perfect timetable.

Stay connected with someone who makes you feel safe - in person, virtually or just in your mind.

Seek support if you are struggling. Reach out to someone you trust. Get online support or speak to your GP. You can also check our emotional wellbeing page.

Watch other parents talk about making time for themselves. These tips are from our Winter With Us campaign - but you can benefit from them in spring, summer and autumn too.

4. Find ways for you and your child to cope with any anxiety

It's not always possible, but try to stay calm in front of your child. 

Ways to cope with anxiety (for both parents and children) include:

  • Recognising and understanding your worries.
  • Keeping your mind and body active.
  • Finding ways to distract yourself.
  • Noticing positive things.
  • Trying relaxation techniques or creative activities.

5. Manage worries during pregnancy

It's common to have strong feelings about expecting a baby, including worry.

On top of having to cope with day-to-day stresses, your body and mind are changing to help a growing baby.

It’s not always possible, but try to keep a calm environment. 

Reassure your baby through talking, touch and music.

If you need help, ask a professional like your midwife or health visitor.

6. Get further support

The PAIRS team can provide one-to-one support via phone and video to families in the LEAP area.

Contact them to discuss your needs and what support they can offer.

Call 020 3228 7370 / 07753 136 813, or email PAIRS_Lambeth@slam.nhs.uk

Check our emotional wellbeing page for more support and resources. 

Family Crisis Support Information

If your child has an urgent mental health crisis, please call Lambeth CAMHS 9-5pm on 020 3228 7370. 

If you are experiencing an urgent mental health crisis, please contact your adult mental health team, or speak to your GP. 

Out of working hours, please contact the dedicated SLAM Mental Health Crisis Line on 0800 731 2864 or NHS 111 to speak to the free NHS helpline.

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