Programme – Thursday 13th June 9:30 to 12:30

9:30 to 10:00 Standing up for Babies in 21st Century Britain – What needs to be done: Jane Barlow, President, AIMH UK and Chair in Evidence Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation, University of Oxford.

10:00 to 10:45 Protecting Babies – How all professionals can safeguard babies: Kathryn Fenton, Social Worker and Principal Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

10:45 to 11:30 Noticing Babies –  Noticing what babies bring to the parent infant relationship: Anulika Ifezue, Clinical Lead Trainer & Specialist Health Visitor for Perinatal & Infant Mental Health, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Senior Trainer, The Brazelton Centre.


11:45 to 12:30 Validating Babies – Recognising & Validating the Baby’s Voice: Caroline Guard, Phd, Senior Lecturer in Early Years Education, Kingston University.

12:30 End.

AIMH UK’s Infant Mental Health Awareness Week Conference will amplify the voices of babies to ensure that their needs are heard and addressed. Each session will contribute to growing a professional network of informed practitioners who can safeguard babies and support their well-being and emotional development.

In this year of a general election, we stand with the Parent Infant Foundation, the 1001 Days Movement and all organisations working to promote positive change for the youngest members of society.  It is vital that babies are recognised within the broader discourse on mental health and that their early relational needs and future well-being can be protected.   

We invite you to be part of this change and join us to hear experts in early relational health deliver the latest thinking on protecting, identifying and validating the needs of babies.  Each talk is designed to deliver practical expertise which is informed by the latest research.  This conference is for all practitioners working with babies and their families Please join us and gain rich learning to  

  • inspire and enhance your practice 

  • build confidence in amplifying the voices of babies to ensure their needs are addressed 

  • help you contribute to positive outcomes for babies 

  • There will be opportunities to ask our experts questions and engage in this meaningful and impactful event.  We hope you can join us


Full Programme

9.30am – 10.00am

AIMH Image of Jane Barlow

Professor Jane Barlow (DPhil, FFPH Hon) is Professor of Evidence Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford. Jane’s main research interest is the role of early parenting in the aetiology of mental health problems, and the evaluation of interventions aimed at improving parenting practices during pregnancy and the postnatal period.

Jane also undertakes research to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions aimed at preventing child abuse. She is currently President of AIMH UK, Affiliate Council Representative of the Executive Board of WAIMH, an Associate Editor for the Infant Mental Health Journal, and was a member of PreVAiL (Preventing Violence Across the Lifespan)

Standing up for Babies in 21st Century Britain

10.00am – 10.45am

Kathryn Fenton is a Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Parent Infant Psychotherapist working at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. She is a tutor and supervisor for the Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy doctoral training at the Tavistock Centre. She was Course Lead for the Tavistock Centre/University of Essex MA in Perinatal and Early Years Work: A Psychoanalytic Observational Approach and the Short Course in Infant Observation for Perinatal Practitioners. She was joint Clinical Consultant to ITSIEYfor ITSIEY (International Training School for Infancy and Early Years) alongside Tessa Baron. She has taught Work Discussion and Infant Observation in the UK and abroad.

Trained as a Social Worker, she has a strong interest in applied psychoanalytic work in a variety of settings. She worked for many years as an expert witness undertaking parent infant assessments in the family courts as well as offering treatment interventions to children and young people who have been fostered and adopted.

Protecting Babies – How all professionals can safeguard babies – this presentation will support practitioners to develop a deeper understanding about the emotional experience of the baby, paying attention to the quality of the parent/carer-infant relationship and explore some of the barriers to identifying risk to babies and infants.

10.45am – 11.30am

Anulika Ifezue is a Clinical lead trainer and specialist health visitor for perinatal and infant mental health in Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. She is a registered nurse for 34 years and a registered Health visitor for 19 years. She has led the transformation of Manchester health visiting service to fully embed perinatal and infant mental health (parent-infant-relationship) into the pathways of universal and specialist health visiting provision across the city.

She is an institute of health visiting (iHV) perinatal and infant mental health champion. She is also one of the senior trainers for Brazelton Centre UK delivering the Newborn Behavioural Observation (NBO) and Newborn assessment scale (NBAS) training. Her primary role is the Clinical Lead trainer and specialist health visitor for Perinatal and Infant mental health in health visiting Manchester, where she provides expert clinical leadership for health visiting service across the city to deliver high quality, evidence based assessments and interventions to parents and infants during the perinatal period. Her role involves collaboration with stakeholders and strategic clinical leadership to establish, deliver, and evaluate a sustainable parent infant relationship training program for early years staff, and to develop strategies, pathways and policies to deliver effective service around perinatal mental health and parent infant relationship.

Her greatest passion is to see all babies across the world heard.

Observing Babies – Noticing what babies bring to the parent infant relationship.

Babies possess incredible abilities to communicate from the womb. In the words of Professor Berry Brazelton ‘A baby’s behaviour is his language, and you can trust that language’. This trust is built from different angles but primarily from the knowledge that babies are authentic and have no discrepancies between their feelings and their expressions.

Babies are curious and interested and they seek out the relationship with the people who are crucial for the development of the architectural foundation of their brain along with their social, emotional and cognitive development required for the world they will grow in. They do this while possessing incredible abilities to help themselves while seeking the help from the adults in their life. Understanding this ensures that babies are not taken as someone to do ‘things to’ rather than someone to do ‘things with’. While we understand that any relationship built from one direction of giving is difficult, we also know that when relationships are built through symbiotic interactions, it creates mutual benefits and association on both sides. Every parent will desire to know and understand their babies’ personalities, uniqueness, and individualities to offer the responses required. Understanding this is powerful and enables a gentle transition through the journey of discovering one another and exploring the future together into knowing what is ‘us’ and blocking the pressure of trying to fit into the fantasy and pressures of what is ‘not us’. All practitioners working with parents are in a unique position to support parents into seeing, noticing, and responding early to this dance in parent infant relationship.


11.45am – 12.30pm

Dr Caroline Guard (PhD, MA, FHEA) is a Senior Lecturer in Early Education at Kingston University, London. Since 2009, Caroline has taught on work based early years degree programmes in Higher Education, promoting the links between practice, theory and policy to Early Childhood Educators and Early Years Teachers. With over twenty years experience in the early years sector, in her early career as a teacher and nursery manager, Caroline noted the challenges faced enacting quality practice in baby rooms and became concerned about how babies were positioned in policy and practice. A move into Higher Education further emphasised these concerns as she observed practice and listened to student reflections of baby room experiences. Caroline’s PhD research, sponsored by The Froebel Trust in London, focusses on amplifying the voices of babies attending full day care settings by working dialogically with early childhood educators to review and reflect on interactions with very young children. Having committed her entire career to early years education, Caroline is passionate to use her research findings to draw attention to babies’ proficiency of voice and highlight the complex and highly emotional work educators undertake in baby rooms.

Validating Babies – Recognising & Validating the Baby’s Voice

Creating a culture in early years practice to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ babies’ voice contributions.

In England, there is an increasing normalisation of accessing formal day care provision before a child reaches the age of two. Whilst emphasis on increased ‘childcare’ support for parents to support return to employment, little attention has been paid to the experiences of babies in early childhood settings. Babies remain an invisible stakeholder in dialogue around ‘childcare’ provision and their early education experiences.

Caroline will share findings from her doctoral research which foregrounds how babies’ contributions in early childhood spaces are made visible through their interactions with educators. The study found that babies work hard to draw educators into communications and employ strategic and intentional modes of voice, that silently ripple beneath the surface of typical baby room practice. There were times where a baby’s voice contributions were overshadowed by adult centric routines and a fast-paced pedagogy which conflicted the needs of the children. Significantly, the visibility of voice was entangled within the cultural and societal aspects of nursery practice and wider political agendas.

In this session, Caroline will examine the complexity of establishing a culture for babies where their voiced contributions are valued and respected and early relationships with educators are centralised.