Infant crawling amongst toys in bedroom

Infant observation for perinatal mental health practitioners (CPD86)

Enhance your skills and understanding of infant observation

This 12-week, online course provides specialist perinatal mental health practitioners with a unique opportunity to develop their infant observation skills.

Alongside parent-infant observations, you will be supported by expert clinicians and peers to expand your knowledge of infant development and relationships. You will learn through a variety of practice, reflection, literature and discussion and after completing the course, feel confident in applying your new skills to your role.

Aims and learning objectives

Throughout the programme, you will:

  • develop sensitive and reflective observational skills in relation to infants and mother–infant relationships
  • expand your understanding of early ordinary emotional development of parent–infant relationships and conscious and unconscious communications
  • learn how to adopt a reflective stance and encompass observations when reflecting on complex cases in the workplace
  • discuss key literature and make links to your clinical work
  • develop the ability to keep in mind the needs of the mother, infant, and mother-infant relationship when undertaking clinical work

Who is this course for?

This course is suitable for multi-disciplinary practitioners working in specialist community perinatal mental health teams, inpatient mother and baby units, and maternal mental health services.

For instance, you might be working as a perinatal nurse, nursery nurse, occupational therapist, social worker, mental health nurse, perinatal psychiatrist, or a clinical or counselling psychologist.

Course details

This is a 12-week, online course which will be hosted via Zoom on Tuesday afternoons. Each afternoon will include two seminars and a reading group.

Infant observation seminar1.00-2.15pm
Work reflection seminar2.30-3.45pm
Reading group4.00-5.00pm

Participants will be required to attend a one-hour pre-course meeting a few weeks before the start of the course to discuss how to arrange an infant for the observations.

The next courses will run on the following dates:

Pre-course meeting: Tuesday 26 March 1.00 – 2.30pm

SessionDateStart timeEnd Time
Session 1Tuesday 16 April 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 2Tuesday 23 April 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 3Tuesday 30 April 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 4Tuesday 7 May 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 5Tuesday 14 May 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 6Tuesday 21 May 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 7Tuesday 4 June 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 8Tuesday 11 June 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 9Tuesday 18 June 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 10Tuesday 25 June 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 11Tuesday 2 July 20241.00pm5.00pm
Session 12Tuesday 9 July 20241.00pm5.00pm

This course will be delivered remotely using Zoom, and the session will not be recorded.

You will need a device with a microphone and camera together with a suitably fast internet connection. Although mobile devices and tablets can be used, we recommend the use of a laptop or desktop PC for the best experience. Some devices provided by employers may have restrictions in place. Please use this Zoom test link to check your set up before booking.

You will be sent the necessary login link about a week before the course start date. Should you have any concerns about the accessibility of remote delivery please contact us to discuss how we can best help you.

This course will focus on developing your observational skills and how to utilise these in reflecting on parent-infant relationships and keeping the infant in mind. As part of the course, you will need to undertake an infant observation for one hour a week for eight to ten weeks. We will share how you can set up this observation during the introductory and initial seminars. The infant can be of any age up to one year and should be from a family not known to specialist services. You will be required to visit the family in their own home once a week. During observation, you will not take notes, but write up notes afterwards which are discussed in the seminars.

During the infant observation seminars, you will develop your observational skills, particularly in relation to mother–infant relationships and reflect on the emotional impact of the observations on the observer.

You will also take part in work reflection seminars. Here, you will take it in turns to bring a case that you are working with for reflection. As the course progresses, you will be encouraged to bring observations from your clinical work when discussing cases. Attention will be paid to the emotional impact on practitioners and the wider dynamics in the perinatal system.

As part of the course, you will be provided with literature, including texts on work in different settings. You will discuss this during seminars and reflect on it in relation to the observations and work discussions.

Prior to starting the course, you will be required to provide evidence of your workplace enhanced DBS to the course administration team – for the purposes of the observation component of this programme.

Following the pre-course introductory meeting, you will need to find an observation family to observe for the duration of the course – this is an essential requirement of the course.

If you have a child under two years old or are expecting a baby, we advise against undertaking infant observation. This is because the observer task is complex and demanding; being a parent of a child under two generates further complexity and potential difficulty in managing the observer role.

Included in your course fee, you will receive online membership to the Tavistock’s internationally renowned library for the duration of your course. Our friendly and knowledgeable library team will help to support you through your specialist CPD course, whatever your level of professional or academic experience. You will have access to an extensive online range of eBooks, journals, all the relevant key databases and our specialist audio-visual collection.


“Coming from an adult mental health background, I have learnt more about development of infants and their emotional needs.”
“I think the course has given me a baseline level of learning which I need to go away and build upon. I’m more conscious of ghosts in the nursery now since attending the course and frequently bring this to multidisciplinary team discussions with colleagues.”
“The course has been an excellent reflective space and encouraged different ways of thinking. It has been really applicable to practice, and we reflected on this in our small groups.”

Course facilitators

Book your place today

You can book a place at any time. When booking please indicate clearly your job title and the perinatal team in which you are working. You’ll receive confirmation by email, and we will be in touch approximately one week before the course starts with detailed joining instructions.

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