The Building a Happy Baby Campaign is an international, Unicef promoted, campaign aimed at addressing myths that circulate among parents of young babies. The Early Years Sub-group of Galway CYPSC is delighted to bring this campaign to Galway.
This campaign comprises four simple messages that are easy to understand and that have been rigorously tested. Dr Malie Coyne, Clinical Psychologist and a member of the Early Years Sub-group of Galway CYPSC explains
“There is strong evidence to show that early years really matters as it sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour and health. Experiences in early childhood shape the brain and a child’s capacity to develop and respond to stresses and challenges.
The Building a Happy Baby messages emphasise the importance of communicating and responding appropriately to the needs of babies:
New babies have a strong need to be close to their parents as this helps them to feel secure and loved, like they matter in the world.
Holding babies when they cry helps them to grow into confident and trusting toddlers.
Holding, smiling and talking to your baby releases a loving hormone in you and your baby. This makes you both feel calm and happier.
Keep your baby close to you so that you can learn how to meet their needs and read their signals for hunger or comfort."
Dr. Coyne further explains that
“The messages encourage parents to give their babies all the love and attention they need. Responding to babies won't spoil them. It is so important to respond to their cues instead of settling into a fixed routine early on. Parents should not believe that leaving babies alone will result in babies becoming more independent. Holding babies when they cry helps them to grow into confident and trusting toddlers whereas leaving babies alone will make them more clingy and insecure when you are around."
Promoting the Building a Happy Baby messages in Galway was originally proposed by the Galway Parent Network, a voluntary association of parents established to provide a service-user perspective on the Early Years Sub-group. Nicole McGuigan of Galway Parent Network cautions that
“Parents need to be aware that a lot of the advice they read in best-selling parenting books and websites is simply not supported by evidence. Often parents can end up doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons.”
Health Service Executive (HSE) Health Promotion and Improvement, HSE Department of Public Health and HSE Primary Care Psychology have collaborated to present the campaign's key messages in an accessible and culturally appropriate way. HSE Public Health Nursing and University Hospital Galway Maternity and Antenatal Services will help ensure that every new parent in Galway receives a printed copy of the key messages. Galway County Council has started translating the messages into a number of languages.
In launching the campaign, Councillor John Walsh said he was delighted that Galway City will be the first local authority area in Ireland to have the Building a Happy Baby campaign. Councillor Walsh said that
“As a public representative, I can see that the value of early intervention is also experienced at a level beyond the individual and his or her family. Supporting parents through initiatives such as this is an important investment not just for parents and children but the wider society. Societies benefit from prevention and early intervention in very tangible ways. In purely economic terms, preventative approaches and early interventions makes real sense. In a time of limited resources, Galway City simply cannot afford to overlook these benefits”.
Councillor Walsh went on to congratulate those involved in this initiative and noted that
“All the agencies and organisations that feel they have something to contribute are working together. In itself, this is a success.”
Click here to view and download the campaign’s key messages.
You can also visit www.galwayhealthycities.ie or www.positiveparenting.ie.
This programme of work is also explained further in an article on Ireland's national television station's website RTÉ Online. It outlines the Build a Happy Baby international campaign, its implementation in Galway and the evidence informing the key messages.
For further information or comment please contact:
CYPSC Co- ordinator, Galway Children and Young People’s Services Committee
Telephone: +353 (0) 86 4179046
To read more about Galway CYPSC click here.