A psychotherapeutic baby clinic in a hostel for homeless families: Practice and evaluation

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A pilot baby clinic in a hostel for homeless families has been established to address the specific attachment and developmental needs of infants living in temporary accommodation. The aim of this study was to assess whether this clinic model was associated with more positive outcomes than mainstream community services in terms of infant development and parent–infant interactions.


Parent–infant psychotherapy and health visiting services collaborated to develop a new model of baby clinic, which reconfigured the traditional clinic to give priority to infants' affective experiences in a therapeutic group setting. Outcomes for parent–infant dyads in a homeless hostel where this service model was applied were compared with outcomes for parents and infants in hostels, which did not have such a service.


Fifty-nine mother–baby dyads participated in evaluation, 30 in the intervention hostel group and 29 living in comparison hostels. Infant mental and motor development was assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Interactions between the parents and infants were video-recorded and coded on the Coding Interactive Behaviour Scales.


The indices of mental and motor development of infants in the intervention hostel were significantly improved over time in relation to infants in the comparison hostels. No significant differences were found in the quality of parent–infant interaction between the two groups over time.


The findings indicate that the service model may have positive benefits for infant development. The findings, study limitations, and clinical implications are discussed.

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