About This Program
Target Population: Disadvantaged families with mothers with children eighteen months old and younger; families can include teenage parents, parents with mental health problems, those with child protection and/or substance abuse issues, or those experiencing poverty
Mellow Babies consists of 14-week long postnatal group programs for moms and dads, with gender-specific sessions for moms and dads run separately. They run for one full day a week. Mellow Babies groups include personal development for the parents, including addressing past and current relationship difficulties and topics such as depression, self-esteem, and domestic violence. Over a shared lunch and joint activity with the babies or children, parents learn how to interact enjoyably with their babies. The third part of the day is a parenting workshop that uses the parents’ own video-taped interaction their children to identify and enhance positive interaction. These activities are followed up in “HAVE A GO” home tasks.
Babies are cared for in high quality babies groups during the morning and afternoon parent groups, joining their parents for lunch, and play activities. During these groups, there will be activities the child care leaders do with the babies that match the theme of what the parents are learning about in their group. The lunchtime activities are designed to enhance engagement and enjoyment between parent and child and to introduce a repertoire of fun activities which are free or low cost and which parents may never have tried before, but parents can try out for themselves at home.
The overall goals of Mellow Babies are:
- Increased positive parent-child interaction
- Decreased negative parent-child interaction
- Improved child development
- Improved child language development
- Reduced child protection concern
- Improved adult well-being
The essential components of Mellow Babies include:
- Fourteen-week group program
- Gender-specific groups for adults
- Designed to be highly nurturing for parents and children
- Targeted towards the most disadvantaged families – sometimes called “hard to reach”
- Personal video feedback using video tapes of normal caregiving activities (e.g., feeding, diaper change) in their own home with the intention of capturing as realistic and natural activities as possible
- In-depth personal support for parents (children are in parallel children’s group)
- “Hands on” practice during a mealtime and play session
- “HAVE A GO” home tasks
- Strengths-based curriculum
- Group size ideally 6-8
- Often delivered in community settings (e.g., family or children centers]
- Groups run by two trained facilitators
- Groups based on the parents’ experiences with active methods (e.g., quizzes, video discussion, etc.)
- Babies’ group includes sensory play, gross and fine motor play, etc.
- At lunchtime, the joint activities for parent and babies include songs and nursery rhymes, gentle touch, mirroring, water play, heuristic play, etc. as well as outings to a library where parents who may have low literacy skills can discover the joy of children’s books
Mellow Babies directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:
- At-risk for neglect, behavior problems
Mellow Babies directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:
- Depression, including postnatal depression; anxiety; domestic violence; low self-esteem; anger management problems; neglectful parenting
8-hour weekly program including 5 hours of weekly group sessions for babies and parents plus lunch
This program is typically conducted in a(n):
- Community Agency
Mellow Babies includes a homework component:
The homework is to do the assigned “HAVE A GO” activity(ies) at home and have the parents mark that they tried it on a checklist given to them or in a simple diary.
Mellow Babies has materials available in languages other than English:
German, Icelandic, Romanian, Russian, Tajik
For information on which materials are available in these languages, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).
Resources Needed to Run Program
The typical resources for implementing the program are:
- A room for the parents’ group and a children’s group room with space for play activity and children’s rest periods; this may be in a purpose designed children’s center or a community building
- Video camera
- Computer and multimedia projector
- Catering for lunch
- Simple arts and crafts material
Education and Training
Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications
Positive interpersonal style is most important. Within the system there should be access to child and adult mental health expertise; though not all providers will all have the same qualifications. It is expected that practitioners will have qualifications and experience in a child care, early education, or mental health related field. Minimum educational requirements are minimal as interpersonal style is more salient.
Education and Training Resources
There is a manual that describes how to implement this program , and there is training available for this program.
- Rosemary Mackenzie
phone: +44 141-445-6066
Training is obtained:
Training can be offered in various locations as an in-house training for up to 12 staff of by joining an open group. Online, Skype or face-to-face supervision is included in the training fee and is without limit and is essential for accreditation
Number of days/hours:
3 days, plus ongoing supervision which is provided free after training which can lead to accreditation as a practitioner
There are no pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Mellow Babies.
Formal Support for Implementation
There is formal support available for implementation of Mellow Babies as listed below:
The program offers free and unlimited supervision to trained providers via email, via online conferencing, or in-person.
There are fidelity measures for Mellow Babies as listed below:
Reflective log and supervision protocols are required for supervision sessions. Practitioners are expected to bring video material to supervision sessions with the consent of the family.
Implementation Guides or Manuals
There are implementation guides or manuals for Mellow Babies as listed below:
There are manuals, DVDs, and an implementation guide (Going Mellow) that are made available during training.
Research on How to Implement the Program
Research has not been conducted on how to implement Mellow Babies.
Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research
This program is rated a "3 - Promising Research Evidence" on the Scientific Rating Scale based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The practice must have at least one study utilizing some form of control (e.g., untreated group, placebo group, matched wait list study) establishing the practice's benefit over the placebo, or found it to be comparable to or better than an appropriate comparison practice. Please see the Scientific Rating Scale for more information.
Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being
Puckering , C., McIntosh, E., & Hickey A. (2010). Puckering , C., McIntosh, E., & Hickey A. (2010). Mellow Babies: A group intervention for infants and mothers experiencing postnatal depression. Counseling Psychology Review, 25(1), 28-40.
Type of Study:
Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 17
- Age — Not specified
- Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
- Gender — 100% Female
- Status — Participants were females with maternal depression.
Location/Institution: Investing in Infants Programme - North Lanarkshire
Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The purpose of this study was to measure change in maternal depression and the quality of interaction between mothers and babies in a 14-week Mellow Babies group intervention. Mothers were randomly assigned to the Mellow Babies intervention or a waitlist control group. Measures included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and analyses of video-taped interaction between mothers and babies using the Mellow Parenting observation coding scheme. Results indicate maternal mood in mothers attending Mellow Babies improved, with a significant difference in EPDS scores, relative to the control group, at follow-up. Post-intervention, there was a significant difference in levels of positive interactions between groups, favoring mothers attending Mellow Babies. The difference in negative interaction between Mellow Babies and waiting-list control group approached significance, with less negative interaction observed between mothers and infants who attended the group. Participant feedback on the content and process of Mellow Babies was highly positive. Limitations include the small sample size, retention with the waitlist control group, and the lack of post-intervention follow-up.
Length of postintervention follow-up: None.
Puckering, C. (2004). Mellow Parenting, an intensive intervention to change relationships. Signal (Bulletin of the World Association for Infant Mental Health), 12, 1-5.
Puckering, C. (2005). Mind the gap! Helping the children of mothers with postnatal depression. Child: Care, Health & Development, 31(1), 7-9.
Puckering, C., Evans, J., Maddox, H., Mills, M., & Cox, A. D. (1996). Taking control: A single case study of Mellow Parenting. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 1(4), 539-550.
- Christine Puckering, PhD
- Agency/Affiliation: Mellow Parenting
- Website: www.mellowparenting.org/index.php/zoo/mellow-babies
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: +44 141-445-6066
Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: June 2018
Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: April 2016
Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: July 2014