Contact FutureLearn for Support
Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsWelcome to Babies in Mind. My name is Jane Barlow, and I'm a Professor of Public Health in the early years and Director of Warwick Infant and Family Well Being Unit. My programme of research focuses on methods of supporting parents during the perinatal period. And one of the things that I've realised as a result of this research is how much a baby's development is shaped by the parenting that they receive. We now know that babies are not only born highly sociable and ready to relate to another human being, but that these early relationships are crucial to their developing mind because they form the templates for their later relationships.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 secondsAnd perhaps most importantly of all, we have learned that one of the key factors that shapes a baby's development is the parent's mind. In this course, we will be examining some of the ways in which the parent's mind can either support or derail the infant's development, even while the baby is still unborn.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 secondsBefore starting this course, I would like to just ask you to reflect on the fact that all of us have been parented and that many of us are also parents. Unlike many other courses, therefore, the material being presented in this course will have personal relevance for you. It may result in you thinking about how you were parented as a child or the ways in which you parented your own children. These types of reflection are good, but please try not to be too critical of yourself. The research shows that babies need what is known as good enough parenting, not perfect parents.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 secondsAnd that the chances are that even if you experienced some of the problems during the pre- or postnatal period that we're going to be discussing in this course, in all likelihood your parenting will have been good enough. If you find any of the course material upsetting because it triggers painful memories about your own childhood, we strongly suggest that you find someone to talk to about this, such as a friend, relative, or a professional, such as a doctor or counsellor. Despite some of the difficult material being addressed, we very much hope that you will enjoy the next four weeks of this course.

Course welcome

In this first video, Jane introduces you to the course.

This course is aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of the parent’s mind in shaping the later developmental trajectory of the infant (Step 4.18: Glossary), and in particular their mind. We hope that the material from this course will enable course participants to understand how and why it is important to support parents during the perinatal period, in order to optimise the development of babies everywhere.

Professor Jane Barlow is Professor of Public Health in the Early Years and Director of Warwick Infant and Family Wellbeing Unit. She is interested in the role of early parenting as a cause of mental health problems. Her programme of research focuses on the evaluation of innovative methods of working to support parents during the perinatal period.

Dawn Cannon is a Senior Teaching Fellow at Warwick Medical School, MBChB Child Health Lead (phase 1) and Honorary Secretary of AIMH (UK). She has developed a number of courses for practitioners including Infant Mental Health Online (IMHOL), which is a twelve-week online course for practitioners wanting detailed information about the importance of the pre and postnatal period for infant mental health.

Each week will focus on one of the core themes being covered by the course, and will include some introductory video material by Jane, which will be followed by further learning material including further videos demonstrating some of the key material, interviews with key academics, relevant reading, and interaction with other course participants on the discussion forum.

In addition to the video and interview material, we have provided you with reading that will enhance your learning on key topics. The aim of these articles is to provide an overview and summary of the key issues. For course members who wish to have access to more detailed and possibly challenging material on a topic, we have provided some scientific papers that describe in much more detail the topic being addressed.

We will be monitoring the discussion that takes place each week and where appropriate we will guide the discussion. We will also send you an email at the beginning of each week with some key information and a preview of the following week’s activity.

Unlike many other courses the material being presented in this course will have personal relevance. It may result in you thinking about how you were parented as a child or the ways in which you parented your own children. These type of reflections are good, but please try not to be too critical of yourself. The research shows that babies need what is known as ‘good enough’ parenting, not perfect parents, and the chances are that even if you experienced some of the problems during the pre or postnatal period that we are going to be discussing in this course, in all likelihood, your parenting will have been good enough.

If you find any of the course material upsetting because it triggers painful memories about your own childhood, we suggest that you find someone to talk to about this, such as a friend, relative or a professional such as a doctor or counsellor.

So, let’s get started!

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Babies in Mind: Why the Parent's Mind Matters

The University of Warwick

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • Why babies need experiences
    Why babies need experiences
    video

    Watch this video. Professor Jane Barlow introduces the concepts of experience-expectant and experience-dependent brain development.

  • Bonding with the unborn baby
    Bonding with the unborn baby
    article

    Read this article about how parents starts to bond with their child even while the child is in the womb

  • Interview with Tessa Baradon: Part 1
    Interview with Tessa Baradon: Part 1
    video

    In this interview Professor Jane Barlow talks to Tessa Baradon who is a parent-infant psychotherapist and Clinical Director of the Anna Freud Centre.