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The First 1001 Days

 
More than 1 million neural connections are formed per second in a baby’s brain. We develop faster in the first years of life than at any other time. There is clear and compelling evidence to suggest that the developmental phases occurring in first 1001 days of a child’s life (including pregnancy and the first two years after) lay the foundation for every child’s future health, well-being, learning, resilience, adaptability; the competencies they baby and dadneed to thrive.

Why then, is so little attention given to this critical moment of development that is, in fact, a beautiful opportunity to make a massive difference in a child’s well-being and future?

Driven by a vision to see every child in need raised in a strong family, our evidence-informed parenting programme engages local churches to equip parents and carers facing disadvantages with confidence, competence and community, enabling their children to thrive. The original Kids Matter programme is written specifically for parents of children under 10 years of age yet after running numerous groups with parents living in poverty and isolation, we realised that a programme focused specifically on the earliest years was needed. If children are to have the best opportunity to do well in life, parenting support should start in the first 1001 days—in pregnancy; the earliest of early interventions. And thus, Babies Matter was born.

The Babies Matter parenting programme aims to support first time parents facing disadvantages as they become parents so that their baby has the best start in life. It does this by helping parents understand and tune into their baby’s social, emotional and cognitive needs. Through encouraging sensitive parenting a secure attachment between them and their baby is likely to develop, enabling healthy brain development and laying good foundations for life.

We know the transition to parenthood is a stressful time but for those facing additional challenges in life such as previous mental illness, poverty, single Babies Matter photoparenting or domestic abuse, this can be an especially difficult time. The Covid-19 pandemic has also done a good job of exacerbating these disadvantages. The "Babies in Lockdown" report found that many families with lower incomes, from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and young parents have been hit harder by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is likely to have widened the already deep inequalities in the early experiences and life chances of children across the UK.

Research suggests the stress of lockdown can impact an individual’s mental health as well as put additional strain on the parenting relationship, which is why Babies Matter actively focus on strengthening relationships and prioritises parental well-being.  

Babies Matter lays the foundations for strong parent child relationships by enhancing parental sensitivity and building strong attachment between parent and baby. The programme works with expectant parents and those in their first year of parenting to build confidence, competence and community, enabling babies to thrive. It is a great precursor to the Kids Matter programme and shares our vision for every child in need to be raised in a strong family.
 
Kids Matter is a programme that engages with families and young children before crisis point – it strengthens families by giving mums and dads the tools to be competent, confident parents or caregivers. To get involved, as a volunteer or by financially supporting our programme, please contact us at info@kidsmatter.org.uk
   

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