Growing Babies With Love Orphanage Outreach Program
Growing Babies With Love is a practical training program which aims to give babies in orphanage settings the best start in life by supporting strong emotional brain development and infant mental health through nurturing touch and opportunities for positive interaction.
From my research studying infant massage and infant mental health it is very clear that;
Babies need love to thrive, grow and develop.
Studies have shown that love, responsive care and positive interaction is more important to a baby's development than food or anything material. Responsive care and positive interaction helps wire babies brains for love and empathy and help give babies a sense of connection and belonging. Nurturing touch and responding to babies needs enables babies to regulate stress hormones by producing relaxation based, feel good hormones in the body which support grow and healthy development. Responsive and nurturing care supports emotional health and regulation in babies and this is a key foundation in mental health. If a baby feels safe and secure and experiences the world as a loving and empathetic place, this will help to build a healthy brain, boost social confidence, encourage emotional resilience, confidence and independence. A healthy and secure attachment is the foundation of healthy growth and development and of physical and mental wellbeing.
The problem of early adverse children experiences
Babies in orphanage settings or babies that have been exposed to trauma or neglect can be exposed to high levels of stress hormones that have a dramatic, devastating and long lasting effect on the physical body and mental health. Separation, isolation and a lack of connection can limit a babies potential for life and expose him/her to long term health issues.
Babies are born ready to connect and interact socially. If this does not happen, babies brains do not develop to their full potential. Brains become wired for fear and anxiety and not love. The younger the child's exposure to stress, the more profound the effect on the brain.
Studies show that there are many negative results of institutional care on behaviour. These include higher levels of apathy, restlessness, disobedience, hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, attention-seeking, sleep disorders, eating disorders and stereotypical behaviours (e.g. rocking, head banging, self-harming) and lower levels of social maturity, attentiveness, concentration and communication.
The aim of the Growing Babies With Love Program
Growing Babies With Love is designed to reach the most vulnerable babies by teaching care givers in orphanage settings why nurturing touch, responsive care and positive interaction is so important. The program covers;
1. Why love and responsive care is so important to babies.
2. How to communicate love to a baby so he/she knows he is accepted and belongs.
3. Practical exercises to help to babies feel more connected, more relaxed and to support healthy brain development.
The Impact Of Love
Studies show that children who receive love and form a secure attachment to a care giver in the first three years of life are healthier, happier and have better life outcomes on all levels.
The first critical 1001 days of life is the key window to help children reach their full potential. All children deserve to receive loving care.
Our current outreach projects
We have launched the project in orphanage settings in Malawi and in Ghana and we are looking for more orphanage settings around the world to share the program.
The training and resources are provided free of charge and we look to support a central care worker in some settings to ensure that the program is implemented.
Who teaches the program?
We have a team of Nurture Ambassadors who help to teach orphanage staff the program.
Nurture Ambassadors receive all the resources they need to educate the care workers. We use local translators and where possible translate resources into the local language. We also use simple images and metaphors to communicate the benefits of the program. Care givers attending the program recieve a certificate of completion It is the continued practice of the program by the care givers that gives the babies the best opportunity to thrive.
Ministry of Hope Crisis Nursery, Lilongwe
We have trained 8 staff at the Ministry of hope crisis nursery with Love Support Unite so that the babies in their care receive nurturing touch.
The babies range from 0-3 years old. There are around 25 babies in the orphanage. Many of the babies are there because they have special needs or need extra support.
Simon's Mango Tree Orphanage in Ghana
We support a care worker at the orphanage to enable children to have an additional member of staff to help to respond to babies' needs.
We have introduced the program into the orphanage under the project leadership of Michelle McCaroll, a Blossom & Berry teacher.
Click below to read more about the project