Scientific Evaluation of the Psychosocial Impacts of Baby Friendly Spaces

Recognizing the critical role of maternal mental health in addressing the health and development of children in emergencies, Action Contre La Faim/Action Against Hunger developed the Baby Friendly Spaces (BFS) program. BFS is a holistic, evidenced-based psychosocial support program implemented as a part of child malnutrition prevention. Services aim to enhance mothers’ wellbeing, internal resources, and child care practices skills in order to create a buffer against the deleterious health and developmental impacts of humanitarian crisis on children.

From the Field: Spotlight on Implementers

Problem: Symptoms of depression during pregnancy or following childbirth are very common worldwide. During humanitarian emergencies, threats to child health and development are compounded by environmental stressors, such as poverty and exposure to violence, that place children at high risk for cognitive delays, mental health problems, physical illness, and malnutrition. Caregivers of young children also experience heightened risk of poor mental and physical health that may decrease their ability to buffer the impacts of environmental stressors on their children.

Question: This study evaluated Baby Friendly Spaces’ (BFS) effectiveness for improving conflict-affected mothers’ psychosocial well-being and supporting child development and growth among Rohingya mothers and children living in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Design & Methods: ACF developed the BFS program, which consisted of three individual counselling sessions, as well as five individual or group psychosocial stimulation sessions. The study utilized a mixed methods approach. Effectiveness was evaluated with quantitative outcome measures for distress, functioning, subjective well-being, and positive coping.  Both qualitative and quantitative measures were used to evaluate implementation of the intervention.

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