Mother cuddling her baby

Baby & Me: How a Barnardo’s support group improves the mental health of mums with new babies

The period of time surrounding a child’s birth can be particularly stressful for parents and families. During the pandemic, it was harder for parents to get the support that would prevent normal anxieties from worsening to the point of needing clinical help or even receiving appropriate support with existing mental health issues. In response, our Surrey Heath Family Centre developed a weekly Baby & Me group with the aim of connecting parents with 0–2-year-old babies to practical and social support. 

Supporting mums and babies to thrive

Our Baby & Me service gives parents the chance to meet other parents and their children as well as offering a space for babies to play together in a nurturing and supportive environment.  

The mums in the group consistently attend and have become close friends, telling us that they feel their mental health has greatly improved and that they’re benefitting from the peer support offered by their new-found friends since joining the group.

This group has helped so much. I felt so isolated during lockdown not knowing if how I was feeling was normal. If I had of had this group in the beginning, I would have relaxed so much more and wouldn’t have felt so low.

Baby and Me participant

“Baby & Me makes me feel like I have achieved something!” 

One mum who was in a foster placement with her baby was referred to our Baby & Me group by her foster carer who felt that she was able to leave foster care and move into her own home caring for her baby on her own, with confidence, because she joined the group, developed her self-esteem around being a new parent, and built a peer support network of new friends.  

Baby & Me makes me feel like I have achieved something! Getting out of the house together, to such a lovely nurturing group is brilliant for me mentally. And for Baby E too!

Baby and Me participant

Another young mum was referred to the group, having been a victim of domestic abuse, with two very young children to look after on her own. With every group session, she grew in confidence and her children thrived as they met each important developmental milestone. She has also started to bring a friend (another young mum) along to the group. 

I love Baby & Me. It’s great to see a friendly face and be in a different place than my own four walls!

Baby and Me participant

What mums think about Baby & Me 

We asked the mums attending the group to complete a short survey. The results showed that attending Baby & Me group sessions left every mum feeling positive about their experience:  

  • 100% felt less isolated 

  • 100% felt they know where to go for help or support 

  • 100% felt they are building resilience 

  • 100% felt they are building a community to support each other 

  • 100% enjoy rhyme time at the end of the Baby & Me session 

Following the success of the Baby & Me group and discussions with families about their needs as new parents, we have been able to further develop our offer for families with babies aged 0-2 years at the Family Centre. The Family Centre team also run a baby massage class and GroBrain, an evidence-based parenting course for parents of babies under 6 months old which focuses on learning about communicating and playing with your baby, bonding, and brain development.   

It’s great to have somewhere to come that has a professional to go to if you need some advice. You are so reassuring and easy to talk to and I loved finding out about the Gro Brain stuff!

Baby and Me participant

One single mum who was moving away and leaving the group told us, “It’s so sad to say our goodbyes but I wanted to share with you how grateful I am for your support at Baby & Me. 

By being completely free, providing a variety of toys and books, and a clean environment to play, Baby & Me really helped me as a single mum, new to the area and quite alone, to get out the house and socialise with other mummies and their babies.  

I will forever treasure the centre, as not only did you provide a safe space for my son and me to engage with each other, but it has also provided a community for other caregivers to get together and just have an enjoyable time with their babies.”  

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