Voice of the Infant: best practice guidelines and infant pledge

Co-produced by a short-life working group, on behalf of the Infant Mental Health Implementation and Advisory Group, which is part of the Scottish Government’s Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board.

Key Messages for Best Practice: 4

Facilitating Infant Participation


We have a duty to ensure that what we learn from babies and very young children is acted upon.

As outlined in previous sections, gathering and considering the views of babies and very young children about the service they receive and about the design and development of services can be challenging but must be done to ensure that their right to express their views is upheld.

Furthermore, once their views have been interpreted, they must be considered by those with the power to effect change. Services and organisations working with infants must show their commitment to being informed and influenced by their views and have a process by which relevant decision makers, that is to say those responsible for influencing change, are identified and involved in this process.

For professionals, the responsibility to consider both babies' best interests and to present findings about a baby's perspective when decisions have to be reached about their physical care and treatment or their emotional wellbeing, is paramount.

Given most planning and review meetings are not ideal environments for babies, it is incumbent on us to make sure that their views are made present and real to those who do attend. For example, in the Children's Hearing System, adults such as panel members, social workers and foster carers, have a duty to ensure that babies' views are considered in addition to their perceived best interests.

Taking a co-production approach means working alongside service users and/or their representatives, valuing everyone's input equally. A commitment to influence should be embedded from the start. Integral to this approach is the responsibility to feedback to those whose views have been sought. As with eliciting voice, this requires careful consideration of the context as well as the method of communication with babies and very young children.

In order that babies and very young children can be prioritised in this process, it is good practice to ensure that someone specifically represents their views about the services they are receiving. This could be formalised by nominating an Infant Voice champion or via the role of a Participation Officer who may already be in place.

In the absence of either of these dedicated roles, staff in all settings welcoming infants must take responsibility to listen and ensure their views reach the decision makers. Formalising mechanisms that facilitate this should be mirrored at every level including the development of government policy.


Email: pimh@gov.scot

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