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Safeguarding unborn babies, under 1’s and working with fathers

Case reviews, together with other research findings, show that children under one year of age and in particular, very young babies, are extremely vulnerable to being seriously injured or to dying as a result of abuse or neglect.

"Babies under 12 months old continue to be the most prevalent group notified, and there were a high proportion of cases involving non-accidental injury and sudden unexpected infant death. In these cases, parental and family stressors were the most significant factor in escalating risk." (CSPR Panel Annual Report 2020).

Swindon has completed and published a thematic review into the assessment and safeguarding of infants prior to and following a non-accidental injury. The review was undertaken to consider systems and practice within and between partner agencies in Swindon.

Responding to suspected bruising on children 

The younger the child, the greater the risk that bruising is non-accidental and therefore there is a greater potential risk. Infants under the age of one are more at risk of being killed by another person, usually a carer, more than any other age group of children.

Bruising is the most common presenting feature of physical abuse in children. The Triennial analysis of Serious Case Reviews (SCR’s) identified that those under the age of 1 year are consistently over presented in SCR’s as a result of a severe injury or death as a result of physical abuse. (Sidebotham et al, 2016)

There is a practice briefing outlining details about bruising, the most common presenting features of physical abuse in children

Resources to support practitioners in understanding vulnerability and protective factors for parents

Professionals are encouraged to use the vulnerability and protective factors in pregnancy to early parenthood practical resource to increase their awareness of the breadth of factors that may impact on the development of unborn children and infants.

This ensures families receive the support they need to give children in Swindon the best start in life. It includes a summary page with information on application in practice, which can be used as a stand alone resource.

Support for parents

Baby Steps is a group activity programme which helps mums-to-be and their partners prepare for being a parent and cope with all the new experiences that will come their way.

Growbaby provide free baby clothes, toiletries, baby equipment and food and formula for children between the ages of 0-5 years. This is for anyone who needs it regardless of income, background and faith.

Information for parents and parents-to-be, from finding out if you are pregnant to antenatal care and your baby's development, has information on health care and all you need to know about pregnancy, birth and looking after yourself and your baby.

Working with fathers

Nationally, the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel have published Out of Routine, a review of sudden unexpected death in infancy. Subsequently, a report in September 2021 on The Myth of Invisible men: Safeguarding children under 1 from non-accidental injury, caused by male carers, highlights how men are often the perpetrators of abuse but remain unseen or unassessed within safeguarding practice. 

The Dad Pad can help new Dads feel more confident about fatherhood.

A new baby is a huge change for everyone in a family. This change impacts on fathers as well as mothers. It is common for dads to experience low mood and anxiety when they have a new baby. The For Dads local offer page is dedicated to information for new fathers where they may be struggling with their mental health.

Research in Practice (RIP), working effectively with men in families, gives practice pointers for including fathers in children's social care. A free digital download with RIP membership. 

Swindon Safeguarding Partnership 7 Minute brief working with fathers, provides further support.

Other information that may be useful

Rethinking - Did Not Attend animation

This is a powerful reminder that children do not take themselves to appointments, they have to be taken by parents or carers. The animation therefore encourages practitioners to reflect on the impact that missed appointments have on a child's wellbeing.

Acknowledgement: Nottingham City Council, NHS Nottingham City CCG and the NCSCB jointly commissioned this video animation to encourage practitioners to identify children as 'Was Not Brought' as opposed to 'Did Not Attend' when referring to them not being presented at medical appointments.

Swindon Safeguarding Partnership - 7-minute briefs and practice briefs 

Safeguarding unborn babies and under 1s presentations

In March 2024 there was a BSW Virtual Summit on Safeguarding Unborn Babies and Under 1s. The day explored, through a range of workshops and keynote speakers, how we can further develop and improve practice within our systems to support and engage parents and families to prevent harm. 

The aims of the day were to:

  • develop professional curiosity when working with families and parents
  • improve practice in hearing the voice of the child and unborn babies and understanding their lived experience
  • improve understanding of the importance of early attachment interaction
  • improve how we work with and engage fathers
  • understand the causational risk of traumatic head injury and a system approach to early intervention
  • promote safer sleep

The presentations slides from the sessions are available to view below: