2nd Edition

Finding Your Way with Your Baby The Emotional Life of Parents and Babies

By Dilys Daws, Alexandra de Rementeria Copyright 2022
    268 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    268 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Finding Your Way with Your Baby explores the emotional experience of the baby in the first year and that of the mother, father and other significant adults.

    This updated edition is informed by latest research in neuroscience, psychoanalysis and infant observation and decades of clinical experience. It also includes important new findings about how the mother’s brain undergoes massive restructuring during the transition to parenthood, a phenomenon that has been named ‘matrescence.’ The authors engage with the difficult emotional experiences that are often glossed over in parenting books – such as bonding, ambivalence about the baby, depression and the emotional turmoil of being a new parent. Acknowledgement and understanding of this darker side of family life offer a sense of relief that can allow parents to harness the power of knowing, owning and sharing feelings to transform situations and break negative cycles and old ways of relating.

    With real-life examples, the book remains a helpful resource for parents, as well as professionals interested in ideas from psychoanalytic clinical practice including health visitors, midwives, social workers, general practitioners, paediatricians and childcare workers.

    Chapter 9 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF
    at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons [Attribution-Non
    Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)] 4.0 license.”

    A note rom Dilys Daws; A note on the authors; Acknowledgemets; Introduction; PART I: Becoming a parent 1. Life will never be the same again; 2 Bringing your baby home; 3. Bonding; 4. Being a good parent; 5. Figuring out fatherhood; 6. Baby blues, postnatal depression and anxiety; PART II: Being with baby; 7. Conversations with your baby; 8. Feeding; 9. Sleeping; 10. Crying babies; 11. Weaning and teething; 12. Learning through play; 13. Your baby’s emerging sense of self; PART III: The wider world; 14 Wider family and other support; To work or not to work; Recommended Readings; References; Index


    Dilys Daws is an Honorary Consultant Child Psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, London and visiting consultant at the baby clinic at the James Wigg Practice, Kentish Town Health Centre, London. She was the Founding Chair of the Association for Infant Mental Health, UK, and has also served as the Chair of the Association of Child Psychotherapists. She has 50 years of clinical and teaching experience, working mostly with parents and babies, and has lectured on infant mental health widely in the UK and abroad.

    Alexandra de Rementeria is Lead Therapist at the Tavistock Outreach in Schools Project and Course Tutor on the Masters in Psychoanalytic Observational Studies at the Tavistock, London. She is also Editor in Chief of the Journal of Child Psychotherapy. She is the author of numerous articles for publications including the Journal of Child Psychotherapy, Journal of Psychodynamic Practice and the Journal of Infant Observation.

    'The authors begin and end with the notion that it takes a village to raise a child, and so it does. Reading this marvellous book is the closest you can get – without actually meeting anyone – to having conversations with other parents, vignettes of whose diverse, international experiences are to be found on almost every page. These narratives, together with short summaries of relevant research and therapeutic knowledge, break up the text. Since the first edition there have been great advances in the endocrinology and neuroscience of parent-infant interaction, elegantly summarised here by Alexandra de Rementeria.

    Dilys Daws says "my role is not to provide solutions but to help parents find their own" yet everywhere you can find helpful, often practical, advice on how to do that. Perceptive cartoons by Ros Asquith appear from time to time, capturing many of the ironies of new parenthood. The book makes clear that "the emotional life of parents and babies" is largely centred on the interaction between their bodies. Getting to know your baby takes many months of trial and error to achieve, with gains and losses on the way. Nothing is idealised here. "Good enough" is as good as it gets, and ambivalence is a given. Besides passion and pleasure, all parents have times of despair, occasionally requiring skilled help. The powerful impact of our own parents on the way we care for our children is a central theme, in varying proportions both a source of pride and regret.

    Dip into any chapter, depending on what interests or concerns you. This is as much a sourcebook for early years professionals as for parents. It should be compulsory reading for all health visitors!'

    Sebastian Kraemer, Honorary Consultant at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, London, UK


    Praise for the first edition

    'This book tackles an area that is so relevant to so many but still so difficult to talk about. It offers reassurance and explanation… This is by far my favourite of all the books I have reviewed since I have taken part in the BMA book awards.'

    (First Prize, Popular Medicine, BMA Medical Book Awards 2016)

    'I read Finding Your Way with Your Baby with pleasure and I would definitely recommend it to parents, future parents and anyone interested in the inner life of the tiny humans.' 

    Irena Domachowska, www.in-mind.org.uk

    'It is a really beautiful book – full of wisdom and kindness and subtlety.'

    Anne Alvarez

    'Finding Your Way with Your Baby is an exceptionally wise book, based on years of clinical work and scholarship, together with the authors’ own experience of parenthood. The accounts of parents who tell their stories, coupled with clinical insights, vividly convey the realities of the business of parenting. As well as capturing all the wonders of caring for small babies, what makes the book distinctive is that it tackles more difficult experiences that are rarely discussed in parenting books, but which nevertheless are common and deeply felt – such as fear and uncertainty, ambivalence and jealously, not just in the parent-infant relationship, but in relations between parents themselves. These can be frightening feelings that we would rather block off, yet, as the authors show, they may have negative consequences if we do not acknowledge them. The great strength of the book is that such experiences are taken seriously and treated sympathetically; clear and convincing accounts are provided for why they might occur, thereby lessening their power to be distressing, especially if they can be discussed with someone else. This book will be an enormous source of support for parents of young babies.' 

    Lynne Murray, Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Reading, author of The Psychology of Babies

    'Gleaned from decades of therapeutic experience with parents as well as the latest research, this is a new and much needed kind of parenting book. Parents will feel that their own and their baby’s most complex experiences are compassionately understood and made sense of. The book does tackle the joys of parenting but many readers will also breathe a sigh of relief that it also attends to many harder to admit to thoughts and feelings, ones that other books simply gloss over. This could become a bible for new parents, but will also be helpful to grandparents, a range of child-care professionals, and indeed anyone interested in babies.' 

    Graham Music, Consultant Child and Adolsecent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman Clinics, London, UK

    'This captivating little book can be read as a straightforward travelogue – what new parents and their babies can expect as they embark on the "journey" of their new lives together. Like any good travel book, it can be dipped into, seeking out specific points of interest and just skimming the rest – or it can be a used as a detailed guide, reading intensively to immerse in the whole experience. Either way, the book exudes a warmth and wisdom that allows the reader to feel comforted and in control of the experience, gaining in personal confidence as they plan the journey in their own way. Fathers as well as mothers are truly included and different forms of family life are well acknowledged, along with common and unusual difficulties that are likely to be encountered. As well as parents, it would be equally valuable for professionals – student health visitors and midwives could also benefit from the breadth of professional expertise, classic research and authentic parental experience.'  

    Dame Sarah Cowley, Emeritus Professor, King's College London, UK, former health visitor, Trustee of the Institute of Health Visiting

    'The burgeoning recognition of infant mental health as a field within CAMHS reflects the increased awareness of the importance of prevention and early intervention in the national agenda. This beautiful little book, which minutely examines the reflexive relationship between the emotional life of parents and babies, is therefore timely.

    The authors provide a psychoanalytic, fly on the wall trip from conception to early infancy from the perspective of parents, baby and other important relatives. It therefore differs from other books exploring the baby’s internal world, which tend to focus more on the baby’s experience...making the book suitable for parents and clinicians alike.' 

    Claire McKenna, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, the Association for Child and Mental Health

    'I believe that many parents will find answers to their questions in this book as it covers an enormous range of possible scenarios they may encounter during the first year of their baby's life ... [it] really offers a comprehensive "guide" to parents in discovering and navigating the 'new territory' of their experience ... The book is written in clear, jargon-free style and is therefore accessible to a wide audience ... While reading this book I found myself smiling, frowning, feeling puzzled and impatiently curious about what the authors had to say next ... Although the book is aimed at parents, I think it is also valubale for professionals, both in terms of offering knowledge and understanding, but also in offering a model of how to talk to parents. Being a child psychotherapist and parent-infant psychotherapist in training ... I feel that I have learnt from this book and have been using this learning in my work. I also recommend this book to some parents I work with and wonder whether it could be included on the prescription list at GP surgeries and baby clinics ... The tone of the whole book is kind, respectful, compassionate and patient and it is likely that while reading it, parents will have a feeling of being understood.'

    Marija Stojkovic, Child Psychotherapist, in the Journal of Child Psychotherapy

    Finding Your Way with Your Baby has been so helpful for families under the Nottingham Perinatal Psychiatric Service, I have lent it to several colleagues now who have in turn shared with their patients, and they have fed back how gentle and accessible they have found it  – it has certainly helped to overcome preconceptions about psychoanalytic theory being remote and stuffy!’ Liz Chesters, Mother Infant Nurse Therapist at the Nottinghamshire Perinatal Psychiatric Service

    Praise for the first edition from parents 

    ‘The night this book arrived Tom and I sat on the bathroom floor (the warmest room in the apartment), with the baby and a bottle of red wine, and read bits aloud to each other. It really got some conversations going, particularly on the kind of parents we want to be.’ Josie Shillito 

    ‘We have been snatching chapters of it in between feeds and have found it immensely reassuring  and revelatory in equal measure.' Sarah Sternberg

    'As a new father reading this book before the birth of my first son, it gave me confidence ahead of becoming a parent, particularly around understanding the needs of a newborn and communication. By acknowledging both the positive and negative emotions that new parents, and particularly new fathers, can experience, I felt better prepared and less fearful of what was potentially around the corner.'  Max Grandison