Infant and Early Childhood
Babies need safe, stable, nurturing relationships to foster their healthy brain and body development and help them realize their full potential. Early positive relationships with important caregivers, including parents or foster parents, early childhood educators, and other relatives, provides the foundation for babies to develop physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially. Recent research demonstrates the negative impact exposure to toxic stress and other threats can have on both the physical and mental health of infants and toddlers, but these poor outcomes can be improved by supporting positive experiences and strengthening families' skills to care for their young children. Intervening early, reducing or preventing the impact of adverse experiences, and promoting nurturing, responsive environments for all children are the key for lifelong health and wellness.
Having a good relationship with your baby helps your child develop good mental health. When your baby has good mental health, they can develop the skills to:
- Form close and secure relationships
- Experience, regulate and express emotions
- Explore their environment and learn
Youth Mobile Crisis: Call the crisis stabilizations line for urgent connection and support: 1-833-885-CARE
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor 24/7
Early Childhood Warmline: 1-877-271-7611
Doing what you can to provide a loving and stable environment for your baby gives them the best chance for being a healthy adult. The great news is it doesn't have to be perfect!
Tips for creating nuturing surrounds:
- Create routines with your baby that happen around the same time each day (i.e. meal time, nap time, play time, bath time, story time).
- When you can't be with your baby, leaving them with a consistent, caring, trusted adult will help your baby feel secure and safe while you are away.
- When you have a calm response to your baby's strong emotions, it can help teach your child to self-soothe and express their emotions in a healthy way.
Look for small ways to build moments of connection withy your child throughout your day. You can build these times into your normal routines.
Tips for creating connections:
- Sing silly songs and read books to your child
- Talk with your child about what you are doing together
- Count your baby's toes when changing a diaper
- Hug and cuddle before bed
- Brush your teeth together
- Have a dance party
- Play simple games
- Turn off distractions during meal times
- Explore your surroundings during meal times
- Explore your surroundings with your baby (babies are naturally curious)
- Make a silly face and watch your baby's reaction
- Comfort your child when they are scared, angry, or hurt
Signs and symptoms of emotional concerns in young children:
Infant (0-1 years old)
- Rarely cries
- Little interest in people or toys
- Hard to calm or soothe
- Does not make eye contact
- Does not gain weight
Toddler (1-3 years old)
- Does not go to familiar adults for help or comfort
- Does not like being touched or held
- Does not play well with others
- Extremely fearful
- Does not show different emotions
- Unable to calm self (self soothe) with caregiver support
Preschool (3-5 years old)
- Does not play well with others
- Has trouble making friends
- Loss of skills (regression) that toddler could previously preform (like toileting, talking, playing)
- Destructive to self and or others
- Withdrawn, sad, fearful
- Unable to calm (self soothe)
Contact the Infant and Early Childhood Team
- Infant and Early Childhood Brochure
- State of Babies Yearbook
- Oklahoma Association for Infant Mental Health
- How Racism Can Affect Child Development
- What Is Inflammation? And Why Does it Matter for Child Development?
- What Are ACEs? And How Do They Relate to Toxic Stress?
- What is Executive Function? And How Does it Relate to Child Development?
- 5 Steps for Brain-Building Serve and Return
- Play in Early Childhood: The Role of Play in Any Setting
- Epigenetics and Child Development: How Children’s Experiences Affect Their Genes
- Smart Start