Mellow Babies

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

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 1

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 1

Program Overview

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.

Program Goals

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

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Mellow Babies.

Essential Components

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 who attend the Going Mellow Training
  • 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

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Mellow Babies directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • At-risk for neglect, behavior problems

Parent/Caregiver Services

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

Recommended Intensity:

8-hour weekly program including 5 hours of weekly group sessions for babies and parents plus lunch

Recommended Duration:

Fourteen weeks

Delivery Setting

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider


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

Manuals 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.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Those wishing to be trained in Mellow Babies need to attend the Going Mellow Training. It 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 the Going Mellow Training which can lead to accreditation as a practitioner

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

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.

Fidelity Measures

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

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

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 basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of the 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. Participants were randomly assigned to the Mellow Babies intervention or a waitlist control group. Measures utilized include 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 that 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 postintervention follow-up.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

Levi, D., Ibrahim, R., Malcolm, R., & MacBeth, A. (2019). Mellow Babies and Mellow Toddlers: Effects on maternal mental health of a group-based parenting intervention for at-risk families with young children. Journal of affective disorders, 246, 820–827.

Type of Study: One-group pretest–posttest study
Number of Participants: 183


  • Age — 17–50 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were females at risk for maternal mental health issues.

Location/Institution: Not specified

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of the study was to investigate the association between Mellow Parenting participation (either Mellow Toddlers or Mellow Babies), and improvements in maternal and child outcomes. Measures utilized include the Adult Wellbeing Scale (AWS), the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the Karitane Parenting Confidence Scale (KPCS), and the Parenting Daily Hassles Scale (PDH). Results indicate that Mellow Parent participation was associated with improvements in maternal mental health, parenting confidence, and a component of child psychosocial behavior; but not overall child difficulties or daily parenting stress. Mothers with a partner experienced greater benefits in mental health and parenting confidence compared to single mothers. Younger mothers, and those with a history of mental health problems, attended more intervention sessions. Limitations include small sample size, lack of control group, reliance on self-reported measures, and lack of follow-up.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

Raouna, A., Malcolm, R., Ibrahim, R., & MacBeth, A. (2021). Promoting sensitive parenting in ‘at-risk’ mothers and fathers: A UK outcome study of Mellow Babies, a group-based early intervention program for parents and their babies. PLoS ONE, 16(2), Article e0245226.

Type of Study: One-group pretest–posttest study
Number of Participants: 91 parent-baby dyads (70 mother-infant and 21 father-infant dyads)


  • Age — Mothers: Mean=24.91 years; Fathers: Mean=28.04 years; Children: Mean=8.5 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Parents: 82 British, 18 Other; Children: Not specified
  • Gender — Parents: 70 Female; 21 Male; Children: Not specified
  • Status — Participants were parents who were currently participating in either the Mellow Moms or Mellow Dads program and had at least one child under the age of 18 months.

Location/Institution: United Kingdom

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of Mellow Babies (MB) in the United Kingdom (UK). Measures utilized include the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18), the Karitane Parenting Confidence Scale (KPCS), the Quality of Life, Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire—Short form (Q-LES-Q-SF), and the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Social-Emotional, Second Edition (ASQ:SE-2). Results indicate that there were positive outcomes for parents attending MB. Completion of the program was associated with significant improvements in anxiety and overall wellbeing, parenting confidence, and perceived closeness of the parent-child relationship. The significance of these improvements, except for parenting confidence, was maintained in the intention-to-treat analysis. MB engaged and retained a high proportion of parents who could be considered ‘at-risk’ and benefitted fathers and mothers attending the intervention equally. Limitations include lack of control group, the number of mothers and fathers included in this study were unequal, and lack of follow-up.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

Additional References

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.

Contact Information

Raquib Ibrahim
Agency/Affiliation: Mellow Parenting
Phone: +44 141-445-6066

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: January 2023

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: October 2023

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: July 2014