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Warwick Infant and Family Wellbeing Unit

Welcome to Warwick Infant and Family Wellbeing Unit (WIFWU).

At WIFWU, we acknowledge that an infant’s early social and emotional development is vital to the baby and infant’s mental and physical wellbeing through childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

We understand the 1,001 critical days (pregnancy to age 2 years) is a significant period when babies need to be supported to follow a positive developmental trajectory. Babies and their relationships matter and the baby’s experiences in the context of their significant care-giver child relationships influence their brain architecture, their attachment status and even how their genes are expressed.

When caregivers engage with babies it is outside their cognisant awareness and is shaped by their own experiences of being parented. Babies who receive sensitive responsive care are more likely to form a secure attachment and this leads to more favourable outcomes across the life-course. Securely attached babies feel safe and secure which supports learning and they are better at regulating their emotions when faced with stress and adversity.

Infant Mental Health (IMH) refers to the developing capacity of the baby from birth to form close relationships, manage and express their emotions and explore the environment and learn (Zero to Three IMH Taskforce)

Interpersonal relationships influence our behaviour and beliefs and infants who develop a strong sense of self through secure interpersonal relationships are sustained emotionally and socially. This is why relationship-based practice is fundamental to effective IMH work.

WIFWU’s goal is to enable the perinatal and IMH workforce to develop their IMH knowledge, skills and abilities so they can deliver evidence based IMH practice to improve outcomes for infants.

We aim to do this by:

  • Delivering high quality Inter-Professional Education (IPE) programmes that are up-to-date, applicable and research informed
  • Deliver knowledge, skills and behaviours directly transferable to your current and future perinatal and IMH practice
  • Meet core perinatal and IMH competencies
  • Address personal perinatal and IMH developmental goals

On completion of WiFWU’s postgraduate training our students receive accreditation from Warwick Medical School.

There is recognition from government that all infants should have the best possible start to life through the development of resilient relationships between parents and infants. The Start for Life Report (2021) endorses that for babies to get the best start professionals need to understand how their expertise contributes to the Start for Life System. The Scottish government have made a commitment to IMH training for practitioners and IMHOL is offered by National Education for Scotland (NES) as the foundation for all IMH training across further skills levels.

We look forward to assisting you to achieve your perinatal and IMH continuous professional goals.

Please contact us if we can be of any assistance and follow the link to meet the team.

My Best Wishes,

Dawn Cannon, Director of WIFWU


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Inter-Professional Education Programmes

Our inter-professional education courses are relevant to national and international practitioners. Infant Mental Health Online has universal provision and the Parent Infant Interaction Observational Scale is available nationally and in Sweden and Malta currently.

Infant Mental Health Online (IMHOL)

IMHOL is an inter-professional educational provision that promotes the "infant mental health frame of mind" and includes content mapped to the UK Infant Mental Health Competency Framework (2019).

Parent Infant Interaction Observation Scale (PIIOS)

The PIIOS is a validated, easy to use tool, designed with the front line practitioner in mind to assess parent-infant interaction between 2 - 7 months. The PIIOS has been developed to meet the need for a short, easily accessible screening tool to assess parental attunement for professionals such as health visitors, midwives, nursery nurses, social workers and psychologists.

assuranceQuality Assurance

All our training provision has been mapped against the UK Infant Mental Health Competency Framework and has achieved UK Infant Mental Health Recognition Register Quality Assurance and continuous professional development (CPD) accreditation.

This will support practitioners to generate their IMH Portfolio for access to the new specialist UK Infant Mental Health Recognition Register.

Trusted provider of interprofessional education as part of NES' training plan

Research and Resources

WIFWU is undertaking a programme of research focused on evaluating new ways of working to support parenting during pregnancy and the first two years of life.