Bonding between parents and infants is essential for the emotional wellbeing of infants.

Leeds Infant Mental Health Service provides therapeutic interventions for families who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships with their infants under two years.

Parent-infant bonding is essential for the emotional wellbeing of infants.  Rather than considering this bond to be either present or absent, it is more useful to consider bonding as the process in which the parent and baby build their relationship.  Some women may experience bonding to be immediate and naturally, while for others it can be more challenging.  

There are many reasons why women might find bonding with their baby difficult, such as:

  • difficulties in pregnancy
  • a traumatic birth
  • difficult experiences of being parented when we were children
  • loss and bereavement
  • difficulties with our mental health (such as low mood or anxiety)

The Leeds Infant Mental Health Service sits within the 0-19 service within the Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and promotes emotional well-being in infants by supporting caregivers to build secure relationships with their babies. They do this by providing training and consultation to many different professional groups as well as through direct clinical work with families.

The service offers a range of therapeutic interventions for families who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships with their infants under two years, including working with pregnant women when issues have emerged during pregnancy. This is often, but not exclusively with the mother and infant but the team also work with fathers and foster carers. Many of the families the team works with are also struggling with their mental health, addiction, trauma or loss but the service only work with families where there is a difficulty with the infant – primary caregiver relationship.

The service can support families who are registered with a Leeds GP and who are struggling with early attachment relationships, and where the level of difficulty and complexity is beyond the support the Early Start Teams are able to offer. Support is often provided to families in their own homes.

If you are a professional and would like to make a referral, please follow these steps:

  1. Discuss a referral to Infant Mental Health Service with the family and gain consent for the referral.
  2. Call the Infant Mental Health Service on 0113 8430841 and speak to the duty person to discuss the referral.
  3. You can then make the referral by completing the referral form and sending to leedsimh@nhs.net

The referral form is available on System One for those with access, or the form can be sent to you by email.