A core component of INFANT sessions is providing the opportunity for parents to share experiences with each other in safe and supportive environment.

Facilitation tips 

Here are some practitioner reflections on facilitating group discussions with parents:

  • Use open-ended questions to stimulate discussion (rather than yes/no):

“Being reminded to use open ended questions to facilitate discussions and interactions is really valuable.” – INFANT training participant.

  • Mixed approaches to engage quieter groups:

“Quiet(er) groups can be tricky to get them talking but I feel these sessions are quite interactive and with a mix of facilitator talking and videos and then focusing on the babies on the floor this will help them interact” – INFANT training participant.

  • Focus on facilitating, not leading:

“(The) facilitator is there to guide the conversation back on track or around a bumpy situation. Also having eyes/ears open to someone who may reveal a difficult issue that needs discrete following up at the end of group to check in with them…” – INFANT training participant.

  • Managing ‘no screen time’ discussions:

When discussing recommendations around ‘no screen time’, it may be helpful to start with a prompt about the current situation – e.g. it seems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are using their screen-based devices more. Ask participants some follow-up questions such as:

    • Do you find this is the case?
    • Is this an issue for you?
    • If so, what can we do about it?

The My Baby Now app has lots of alternative suggestions for keeping babies busy, or when they are tired or grouchy. You could also remind parents that the expert recommendation of the Australian 24-hour movement guidelines of ‘no screen time for under 2’s’ does not include interacting online with family and friends.

Experiences engaging families from priority populations

  • We know from experiences that some families may find it difficult to access INFANT or First Time Parent Groups, including those who have complex health, social or cultural barriers. For these families, INFANT content and key messages can be integrated into individual consultations (e.g. KAS visits and Enhanced visits) and INFANT session resources provided so that these families also receive consistent messages.
  • INFANT groups have been successfully run with a range of families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and interpreters have been used effectively in INFANT group sessions.

What’s in the pipeline from the INFANT team?

  • More INFANT cases studies about LGAs engaging families from priority populations including with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Enhanced MCH families.
  • Adaptation and co-design of low literacy culturally inclusive INFANT session resources is underway in 2022.
  • Two PhD projects:
    • focusing on how to engage and support Dads with heathy eating and active play in the first 2,000 days.
    • working with VACCHO and exploring how to engage and support Victorian Aboriginal families with healthy eating and active play in the first 2,000 days.

Encouraging parents to attend all sessions

The INFANT program is more effective if all four sessions are attended. This helps to reinforce key messages as babies develop and allows for ongoing support and connection with other parents. However, we also understand that it is sometimes challenging for parents to attend all sessions, particularly as they return to work. Find out about some strategies to assist retention in the video below, these include –

  • Scheduling INFANT alongside other activities to provide a ‘hook’ for parents to attend e.g. CPR training.
  • Pre-empting with parents what is to come in the next session.
  • Suggest sharing of contact details between parents who want to, so they can meet up for pram walks or local outings.
  • Provide a certificate of completion after all four sessions or a small incentive such as a swim pass or reusable snack container – see INFANT participant certificate in the ‘Facilitator resources’ section here.

Your task 

Watch the video of the INFANT team’s Anthea Gregoriou and Kathy McConell, Implementation Coordinators as they describe different approaches that have been used to encourage parents to attend all four sessions and group engagement.

Submit a comment to share your experiences or challenges with engaging priority populations in your community. Read the comments from others and the INFANT team. Click the ‘mark complete’ button once you’re ready, then select ‘next lesson’ for the next step.