Care for child development: improving the care for young children
These materials guide health workers and other counsellors as they help families build stronger relationships with their children and solve problems in caring for their children at home. Care for child development recommends play and communication activities for families to stimulate the learning of their children. Also, through play and communication, adults learn how to be sensitive to the needs of children and respond appropriately to meet them. These basic care-giving skills contribute to the survival, as well as the healthy growth and development, of young children.
Globally over 200 million children do not reach their developmental potential in the first 5 years because they live in poverty, and have poor health services, nutrition and psychosocial care. These disadvantaged children do poorly in school and subsequently have low incomes, high fertility, high criminality, and provide poor care for their own children.
The health sector in countries has the capacity to play a unique role in the field of early child development because the most important window of opportunity for ensuring optimal development and preventing risk of longterm damage is from pregnancy through the first five years of life. Therefore health care encounters for women and young children are important opportunities to help strengthen families’ efforts to promote children’s early development and may represent the only real chance for health professionals in developing countries to positively influence parents of young children.