Our vision

Our vision is for every child in the UK to have the best start in life.

Our approach

For the last ten years, Best Beginnings has been working tirelessly to reduce inequalities in child health and to give every child in the UK the best start. We work closely with parents, leading healthcare professionals, royal colleges, other charities and the Department of Health to create innovative evidence-based resources, including our free multi-award-winning Baby Buddy app.

Best Beginnings' resources are designed through our tried and tested process of co-creation to give parents of all backgrounds the knowledge and confidence they need to look after their own mental and physical health and to maximise their child's development. Baby Buddy is currently aimed at mothers and covers the period from conception to a when a child is six months old.

Collaboration is one of Best Beginnings' guiding principles and we work with many individuals and organisations, including grant-giving trusts and foundations, the NHS, local authorities, and ethical corporate partners to support and promote the charity's work.

In our first decade as a charity Best Beginnings has reached more than two million families.  You might also like to look at this short film which gives an overview of about Best Beginnings’ work and plans. 

Our most recent project, “Out of the Blue”, which is our maternal and infant mental health films, launched this March with the Duchess of Cambridge. You can watch highlights of the day, including The Duchess' speech here.

How we tackle health inequalities

Best Beginnings focuses on the period between conception and a child’s third birthday, where the foundations of a healthy and fulfilling life are laid. We aim to ensure that every child has the best start in life by:

  • developing practical, simple, educational and interactive tools to support parents-to-be and new parents
  • embedding our resources in local health pathways and training professionals to use them in their practice
  • raising awareness of the things that can affect new mums, dads, bumps and babies
  • engaging with government, authorities and society to influence change.

Evidence-based resources

Our innovative and evidence-based resources and services have a focus on film and digital. All our resources are created with significant input from professional experts and parents, and are formally evaluated by academics. In this way we ensure our resources have validity, credibility and are addressing the needs of real people in real-life circumstances. Read about the evidence, impact and evaluation of our resources.

Working collaboratively

By working collaboratively Best Beginnings have already produced a number of resources that have been endorsed by many Royal Colleges, professional bodies and the Department of Health. They are distributed and promoted throughout the NHS and Local Authorities. Our most recent resource, the Big Lottery Fund funded Baby Buddy app, won the prestigious AXA PP Health Tech award for pregnancy, babies and early years digital resources, and was a finalist in the 2015 EHI Awards.

Our beginnings

Best Beginnings was founded by Alison Baum, a science graduate with a background at the BBC on programmes such as Horizon and Tomorrow’s World, communicating key scientific and medical breakthroughs.

Following the birth of her two sons, both with significant health problems, and the death of her uncle Professor David Baum, formerly President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Alison decided to leave the BBC and devote herself to radically improving the health of young children across the UK.

Founded in 2006, Best Beginnings wasted no time: within just four weeks, the charity formed and led a coalition of more than 35 organisations, including five Royal Colleges and UNICEF, to lobby for the implementation of the Breastfeeding Manifesto. A year later, Alison won the Sheila McKechnie Foundation award for Health and Social Campaigner of the Year. Best Beginnings celebrates its 10th birthday in 2016 and to date has reached over 2 million families across the UK. In March 2014 Alison was thrilled to be awarded CPHVA Campaigner of the Year and Woman of Democracy.

The need for our services and resources

There is a significant body of evidence outlined in the Marmot Review (2010) that demonstrates that dramatic health inequalities are still a dominant feature of Health in England and across all regions in the UK. There are many factors including ethnic and socio-economic factors which contribute to making child health a postcode lottery in the UK.

There is a current shortfall in the quality, availability and accessibility of information about the importance of the antenatal period and the first three years of a child’s life, as well as practical information on how parents can help maximise their child’s physical, emotional and language development.

Also, there is a need to support the parent’s physical, emotional and mental health care, and it is recognised there is a deficiency and lack of training and knowledge about these issues amongst health and social work professionals and the wider public. Prevalence is high and need is growing. Around 2 in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby. And 1 in 10 children born have a health difficulty or are born premature yet knowledge and information available to parents of these children is limited and patchwork.

Psychologists agree that babies with secure attachments to their parents have better chances to develop into happy, successful, and well-adjusted children and adults. In the past, psychologists studying the development of children focused almost exclusively on children's relationships with their mothers. Today, they have come to agree that fathers play a unique and crucial role in nurturing and guiding children's development. Many experts now believe that fathers can be just as nurturing and sensitive with their babies as mothers.  As their children grow, fathers take on added roles of guiding their children's intellectual and social development.  

“Our ambition is to make the NHS a digital pioneer for our patients and citizens. We must embrace modern technology to help us lead healthier lives” Tim Kelsey, National Informatics Director