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From Baby to Big Kid

An e-newsletter that showcases how children learn and grow each month from birth to 3 years. From Baby to Big Kid translates the science of early childhood and offers strategies parents can tailor to their unique family situation and to the needs of their child.
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Infant Mental Health

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Early Childhood Mental Health

Babies and young children thrive when they are cared for by adults that are “crazy about them!” (Bronfenbrenner, 1976 1). Responsive relationships with consistent primary caregivers help build positive attachments that support healthy social-emotional development. These relationships form the foundation of mental health for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

"Infant mental health" is defined as the healthy social and emotional development of a child from birth to 3 years; and a growing field of research and practice devoted to the: 

        Bulletpromotion of healthy social and emotional development; 
        Bulletprevention of mental health problems; and 
        Bullettreatment of the mental health problems of very young children in the context of their families.2

Most Popular Resources

Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood, Revised (common reference: DC: 0-3R) 
ZERO TO THREE’s revised, developmentally based diagnostic manual, is based on a growing understanding of early cognitive development. It stand to make early treatment more effective than ever. The new criteria include new diagnostic subsets for depression, anxiety disorders, including separation anxiety and social anxiety, and feeding behavior disorders.

DC: 0-3R Training
Five trainings offered—from introductory to advanced to training trainers—through ZERO TO THREE's Center for Training Services. (See other ZERO TO THREE Training Opportunities.)

DC: 0-3R Book


For Professionals

Early Childhood Mental Health: Promotion, Prevention and Treatment
Effective strategies for promoting healthy social and emotional health in very young children.

Diagnosing Infants Affected by Disasters or Violence
Guidance for using DC:0-3R with young children and their families who have experienced disaster or community violence.
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Helping Young Children Cope After a Disaster
Guidance for supporting very young children in the aftermath of disaster.
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The Importance of Good Relationships? 
Research tells us that early relationships play a critical role in supporting mental health in infants and young children.
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Mental Illness in the Peripartum Period 
This article provides an overview of mental illness that can present in the peripartum period, with the aim of improving their early detection, diagnosis, and treatment by health professionals.
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 For Parents

The Magic of Everyday Moments    (en Espanol)
Series of age-based brochures explaining how parents can support their baby’s social-emotional development through everyday routines.

Tips on Social-Emotional Development
Discusses how parents can support their child’s social-emotional development through everyday interactions. All of the tips are listed under the Key Topic of Social and Emotional Development

Learning Through Play from Birth to Three  
Explores how play supports children’s learning and development in all areas, including their thinking, physical, and social-emotional skills. To access this resource, please log-in or register now.

Getting Ready for School Begins at Birth
Explores how parents can help their baby or toddler learn the basic skills they will need to succeed in school later on through everyday caregiving routines and interactions. To access this resource, please log-in or register now.

For additional information, visit the Parenting Resources Key Topic on children's social-emotional development.

For more, see the feature articles under the Key Topic on Military Families.

For Policymakers

Helping Young Children Succeed
Describes how state policymakers can support the healthy social-emotional development of young children from birth to age 5. (Joint research and policy report developed by the ZERO TO THREE Policy Center and the National Conference of State Legislatures.)
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Improving Maternal and Infant Mental Health
Explores the impact of maternal depression on very young children.  (Joint policy brief of ZERO TO THREE and the National Center for Infant and Early Childhood Health Policy at UCLA.)
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Promoting Healthy Social-Emotional Development
Offers guidance to state policymakers and administrators on promoting the healthy social and emotional development of infants and toddlers. 
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Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health: A Concern for All
Presentation made by Cindy Oser, R.N., M.S., Director ZERO TO THREE West for the Health Resources and Services Administration/Maternal and Child Health Bureau Grantees meeting on Oct. 5, 2004.
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Related Resources 

ZTT Publications


To access Zero to Three Journal articles on this topic, including Introducing DC: 0-3R, please log-in or register now.

Case Studies in Infant Mental Health
By Joan J. Shirilla and Deborah J. Weatherston (Eds.) (2002)

Building Strong Foundations
By Rebecca Parlakian and Nancy L. Seibel  (2002)
Practical Guidance for Promoting the Social-Emotional Development of Infants and Toddlers

DC: 0-3R

How Culture Shapes Social-Emotional Development
By Rebecca Parlakian  (2003)
Implications for practice in infant family programs

Little Listeners in an Uncertain World
Coping strategies for you and your child during deployment or when a crisis occurs
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Training Opportunities

All of our trainings are provided through ZERO TO THREE's Center for Training Services

DC: 03R Training
Five trainings offered based on participant's experience and background.

Consulting and Mentoring In Early Childhood Programs

Aimed at infant-toddler specialists and others working with infant and early childhood providers.

Child Care Consultation In Action
Describes an early childhood mental health consultation project with the Jewish Family and Childrens Services of Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties.
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Extrenal Links

Infant Mental Health Initiative of the Head Start Bureau

Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning

Docs for Tots

National Child Care Information Center:  Mental Health Needs of Young Children

National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

Early Childhood Mental Health, Social-Emotional Development and Challenging Behaviors

Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development

National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health

Plain English Version of DSM-IV-TR Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders

World Association for Infant Mental Health

1 Bronfenbrenner, U. (1976).  The Ecology of Human Development. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press.

2 This is a definition of infant mental health developed by ZERO TO THREE’s Infant Mental Health Task Force.


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