The Ready to Relate cards are a visual, interactive tool to help practitioners assess, discuss and share healthcare information with families and to make NICE recommended interventions accessible. The cards aim to improve and enhance the parent‐infant relationship and promote infant attachment and optimal infant development.
The Ready to Relate cards are a highly visual tool designed to facilitate understanding of the parent-infant relationship for practitioners and parents. They aim to enhance behaviours which may contribute to a secure attachment between caregiver and child and support infant mental health and brain development.
The pictorial aspect of the cards enables the cards to be accessible across cultures; the resource is also a valuable tool when working with interpreters. The Ready to Relate cards are an interactive tool and can be used to make interventions to help parents develop the skills and knowledge to enrich their parent-infant relationship.
Who are the cards suitable for?
This cards are suitable for any professional working with families with infants, including health visitors, family support workers, midwives and practitioners working in early years, mental health and social care.
How do the cards work?
The cards aim to improve the parent‐infant relationship and promote infant attachment and optimal infant development by helping to develop the parent’s understanding of their infant and how they respond to interaction. For example, the extent to which the parent responds in a timely and attuned manner; the child’s involvement and parent’s positive engagement, and the infant’s ability to seek and maintain closeness to the parent.
Secure infant attachment leads to positive outcomes; the infant can be comforted when distressed and will use the parent as a secure base from which to explore the environment.
Practitioners can use the resource cards to work directly with the parent and infant in the home to identify unconscious patterns of relating and behaving.
The pictorial cards help to embed parent infant relationship training into practice. For example:
- Pictures allow discussion, time to wonder and think.
- Information on the back of the cards can be used as a prompt for health professionals or early years practitioners to discuss key pieces of information around specific aspects of the parent infant relationship with the parents so they can understand their baby.
- Cards can be used to reinforce key messages as well as intervention when professionals identify a need or mismatch of response from parents to baby.
The cards are on a keyring, so they can be used individually or as a pack.
The cards include sections on:
- Parenting and family relationships
- Building a relationship with your baby
- Infant cues and responses
Innovation Award 2015, North London Perinatal Mental Health Consortium.
Institute of Health Visiting Award 2018 – second place.
Ready to relate cards pilot study
During a pilot study of health visitors and nursery nurses, of 150 participants, 95 per cent of respondents were overwhelmingly positive about the cards.
Respondents credited the cards with: encouraging positive parenting and interaction between the parent and infant; learning to understand the importance of infant cues to respond appropriately to babies; and positively influencing aspects of neurodevelopment. For further details read the full evaluation report…
Find out more about what parents say, over one year on: preliminary evaluation of the Ready to Relate Cards
To find out more about the Ready to Relate Cards or order a set of your own, please contact Josephine.Domanski@bdct.nhs.uk.
Supporting information for use with cards
These cards can be used in many ways. You can discuss the pictures with the parents and talk about the ways babies relate and respond. You can enjoy sharing the importance of understanding and responding to baby.
When using the cards think about:
- The pregnant woman and her partner/ significant others.
- Their experiences of being parented.
- The transition to being a parent.
- How to build a relationship between parents and their baby.
Use the cards in a non-prescriptive way. For example, if you notice a positive moment between a mum, or dad, and baby looking into each other’s eyes in a moment of connection, use the ‘mutual gaze’ card to illustrate the importance of this simple interaction which the parent may not have even noticed. This will enhance positive interactions, self-esteem and self-efficacy as it builds on something a parent is doing well.
You could, for example, say: “I noticed you and your baby looking at each other like this… (show card) “you may have not even noticed. I’d like to let you know just how important this is for your baby (and you), as it actually builds connections in your baby’s brain.”
You can then turn to the ‘brain’ section and show the ‘synapses’ card. You could, for example, say: “Your baby’s brain is connecting up at 2 million synapses a second when you are simple taking a moment to look into each other’s eyes.” You can then chat about how this is giving their baby positive experiences which will help shape his/her future wellbeing.
The ‘cues’ section can be used by showing a selection of the cards for discussion – i.e.:
How do you think your baby is feeling?
Why/what tells us that from looking at his/her face and body?
Is this a pleasurable feeling?
What could we do to/with your baby? (i.e. cuddle, play, feed, simple interactions) – this helps mind mindedness.
You could then move on to:
What is your baby telling you?
How is your baby feeling?
“These pictures of the faces and hands of young children, with those of their parents and other carers, show the joy of affectionate kindness, of belonging in love, and of pride in shared discovery of meaning in life. They also show the distress of pain or loneliness, the shame of longing for company. The cards give encouragement for gentle patience with sadness or anger, offering reassurance in security and play. There are special rituals and symbols of shared meaning for young children in their particular community, but the emotions that give them energy and value prove the human spirit we are all born with.”
Professor Colwyn Trevarthen, Infant Mental Health Researcher and Theorist
“They will provide a valuable tool for pregnant women and mothers with new babies. They are of real importance for the support they can give to the mother. I do think the cards are great and easy to use.”
Professor Vivette Glover
“Pictures are very helpful – especially when there is a language barrier. This will be helpful for interpreters in their understanding and it would be good for all health visitors to use these at all the visits.”
“This is so fantastic – exactly what we need; this will fit in with the projects and groups we want to run with families and children. This would be perfect for the family support workers.”
“I didn’t know a little baby was able to communicate so much. I wish I had known this with my first child.”
Mother of 6-week-old baby
“I have been talking to my baby and looking into her eyes much more because the health visitor showed me the cards. I think my baby and I are very close because of this.”
Mother of 2-week-old baby
Hear what a father-to-be had to say about the cards and how they helped instil confidence in his future parenting skills.
Parents can influence their baby’s brain development, as relationships affect the brain. Here a new mother talks about how the cards have helped her appreciate that babies are born ready to relate.
A new dad shares how the cards have helped him bond with his baby and how his new-found awareness and approach has helped stimulate his baby’s brain development.
Watch two new mums learn about how mirroring babies’ expressions helps them to feel understood and build healthy relationships.
Lisa’s blog – born ready to relate
Lisa Milne, Clinical Lead of Specialist Mother and Baby Mental Health Service shares her own experiences and why she knows babies are indeed amazing.