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Infant Observation


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7

Module description

This module provides an opportunity to observe the development of an infant in a family, and introduces you to theoretical concepts as tools for reflecting on, and understanding, parent-infant observation.

You will observe an infant for one hour a week over two years and write up the observation as soon after the visit as possible. You will then present your observations to the seminar which meets once a week. In this way the development of a small number of babies is followed over two years by a small discussion group. Prior to the course beginning the seminar leader will help you to think about finding a baby to observe, and in the early seminars the initial interview with the parents, the stance to be taken in the family and issues of roles and boundaries are discussed. You will be encouraged to record what you see, hear and feel during the weekly observation of the infant in its family context, and in the seminar discussions often other details are recalled.

The aim is to help you think about the developing infant in the context of the relationship between infant and mother and infant and the whole family; to tolerate the intense emotional experience of such intimate contact; to continue to think about the meaning of the changing relationships observed and their impact on the development of the infant’s internal world; and to be sensitive to emerging patterns without being closed to unanticipated change and development.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate the development of observational skills
  • reflect on the experience of infant observation
  • distinguish between the observed infant and the infant self in the observer
  • record in detail your observations both of the observed setting and of the responses evoked in them
  • share your observations with the group in presentations and through the following discussion to use the group to enhance your understanding
  • integrate observations and theoretical understanding, and structure these into a final report.