Emerging Minds
2hrs 30mins

Promoting infant and toddler mental health with parents

About the course

This course explores the ways practitioners can support parents, by providing reassurance, guidance, information, or resources, to promote positive mental health in their infant or toddler. This is referred to as ‘anticipatory guidance’.

This course identifies opportunities for practitioners to have respectful and collaborative conversations with parents that support responsive and nurturing caregiving, starting from conception through to three years old.

You will examine the practical issues around working with parents to identify the most relevant and appropriate information or resources, taking into account the parent’s and family’s context and circumstances.


Anticipatory Guidance

This module explores important aspects of having conversations with parents that provide reassurance, guidance, information, or resources (anticipatory guidance) to assist in promoting positive mental health of their infant.

Conversations of Support

In this this module you will learn how to conduct a collaborative conversation with parents about their infant’s or toddler’s social and emotional wellbeing and to arrive at a shared understanding about issues or concerns. Module Two features fictional demonstrations between a practitioner and parent. It shows how to explore concerns and provide anticipatory guidance, support, and assistance to help parents advance infants’ and toddlers’ social and emotional wellbeing.

Who is this course for?

This course is for all practitioners working with infants and toddlers. Through your work, you are well placed to support parents by providing relevant, quality information about children’s development and mental health.

As the World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified, ‘the health sector plays a critical role in delivering key nurturing care interventions and there is opportunity to strengthen the nurturing care approach in health services and in partnership with other sectors1.’  

Learning aims

As you progress through this course, you will:

  • explore entry points and opportunities to have respectful and collaborative conversations with parents, with the aim of supporting them to promote positive social and emotional wellbeing for their infants
  • understand and utilise practice positions for parent engagement when conducting these conversations
  • reflect on ways to provide support and guidance that is relevant and appropriate to the parent’s, family’s and infant’s circumstances
  • learn strategies for providing quality resources and information to parents.

This course follows on from the foundation course, Building Blocks for Children’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing.

It is recommended that you complete the foundation course first before undertaking this core (practice-based) course.

The foundation course provides you with the following important understandings about infants and toddlers:

  • The building blocks of infants’ and toddlers’ social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Factors that can influence social and emotional wellbeing and development.
  • The importance of recognising opportunities to provide guidance, quality information and resources to parents to support the mental health of their infant or toddler.


As you work through the course, it is important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Please follow the self-care tips below and seek help if needed:

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don’t feel that you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course, and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset. For example, consider taking a break and doing something for yourself that you enjoy.
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course.

If at any point you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


For the purposes of this course, ‘resources and information’ are defined as printed materials, online information, videos, audio, TV shows, community activities, or public facilities (places).

The use of the term ‘parent’ in this course encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a baby or infant, as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that infant.

‘Mental health’ is something that all people have, from infants right through to adults. It is not fixed; rather, mental health exists along a continuum that can range from positive mental health, to vulnerabilities or difficulties, to diagnosable mental health conditions. Infant mental health can also be referred to as the infant’s ‘social and emotional wellbeing’.

‘Social and emotional wellbeing’ refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. It incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths and is a facet of infant development2.

 ‘Social and emotional development’ involves the development of skills required to:

  • identify and understand one’s feelings
  • read and understand the emotional states of others
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed
  • regulate behaviour
  • develop empathy
  • establish and maintain relationships3.

‘Infants and toddlers’ is used to describe children from conception until their fourth birthday throughout this course.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in broad terms, ‘social and emotional wellbeing’ is the foundation for physical and mental health. It is a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin, and community. It also recognises the importance of connection to land, culture, spirituality, and ancestry, and how these affect the individual4.

‘Social and emotional wellbeing’ is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness5.

The ‘first thousand days’ is a term used to describe the period between conception and the child’s second birthday.


  1. World Health Organisation. Development: WHO guideline’ (2020). Found here.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: development of a Child’s Headline Indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). (2009). A picture of Australia’s children 2009. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra: AIHW.
  4. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, p.6.
  5. Everymind. (2020). Understanding mental health and wellbeing. Newcastle: Everymind. Retrieved from here

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