Baby Week Leeds 2019 saw over 100 city-wide events and activities with over 1000 attendees in Leeds. The theme for the fourth annual Baby Week Leeds was ‘Making connections: Bonding, healthy brains and wellbeing for all’.
This theme reflects the diversity of the different needs of the city, and events that took place during the week especially focused on mental health and wellbeing, including: infant and perinatal mental health, engaging with fathers, breastfeeding, language development and more, encouraging best practice and partnership across a number of sectors. Multi-disciplinary professionals on all levels were invited to attend presentations to help improve their knowledge base and network sharing good practice.
The week hosted a number of key events, including an opening ceremony, mid-week conference and an engagement event held at the end of the week in the Kirkgate Market. Engagement with the public and awareness of supportive services was increased by promoting activities at children’s centres across the city and by a timetable of over 50 centre-based activities. Parents and carers were encouraged to attend sessions covering successful weaning, book reading, creative play, breastfeeding peer support and much more. Fun and play activities also took place with facilitators engaging with members of the public with sessions such as creative play with Duplo, swimming, craft sessions, yoga, as well as a baby-signing taster workshop – aimed at encouraging parents and babies to develop communication skills and bonding.
This year’s Baby Week also took place during the Leeds Year of Reading (YOR) which aims to raise the profile of reading across the city and engage children and their families in positive reading activity to generate a long term love of reading.
Correspondingly, the mid-week Baby Week conference took place at Leeds Central Library, with the libraries service hosting a range of events across the week. Celebrating the success of good practice in order to support the best start in life was highlighted in a special lecture held at the University of Leeds for midwife students and through linking in with the tree planting scheme, where to commemorate baby week where a tree was planted for every baby born in Baby Week in partnership with the White Rose Shopping Centre.
Expectant mums in Leeds are also invited to join Facemums, a closed Facebook group led by midwives, which will provide additional local support and information sharing. The initiative is a pilot project funded by Health Education England and open to pregnant women with a due date in May, June, or July 2020. The Facebook E-Midwife page was also promoted throughout the week, which is also a very successful page to support new mums.
Laura Walton, lead midwife maternity strategy and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Facemums is a fantastic initiative to empower mothers. Through the Facebook group women can gain valuable insights from registered midwives and form a network of peer support. Our aim is to develop a community of mothers who will act as health champions of the future, both in their families and the wider community.”
The fourth annual Baby Week Leeds is supported by Leeds City Council and partners across the city, including Child Friendly Leeds, NHS Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals.