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MPs have called for new mums to be given greater mental and emotional support during a critical 1,001-day period at the start of their children’s lives.
Earlier today Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom and Labour MP Frank Field joined other MPs to launch the cross-party 1,001 Critical Days manifesto, which calls for the emotional wellbeing of new mums to be made a priority.
It follows a plea by Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter, who believes health visitors, midwives and GPs can do more to help women during the crucial 1,001 days between conception and their child’s second birthday.
The manifesto has been welcomed by Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, who believes targeting services to families in need of advice and support at the start of their children’s lives is vital. He said: “The Alliance has always put the needs of parents and young children at the heart of its services and we are delighted that this is now being given serious-cross party support through this manifesto. We work extensively with families in deprived areas and support its call for registered childminders, day nurseries and childcare settings caring for children under two to focus on the attachment needs of young children. However, we are not convinced by the manifesto suggestion that Ofsted would be the right agency to provide specific guidance on how attachment can be measured effectively.
“We would urge caution with the manifesto’s overemphasis on children’s centres to deliver these intervention services to families. In some situations it may be more appropriate or effective to involve community-based parent and toddler groups, pre-schools and toy libraries to help reach these new families. These are accessible services that already successfully support many families and are often a natural progression from antenatal classes for many parents and carers.
“Such Early Years services frequently offer the first social interaction that babies, toddlers, mothers and fathers experience outside their immediate family. They offer ideal opportunities to provide advice about parenting, health checks and other services in an inclusive, less formal and welcoming environment. While these services may not be as politically high profile as children’s centres, for many families at the heart of the manifesto’s vision, these services are more relevant and responsive to their needs.”