Investing in early childhood development benefits everyone: governments, companies, communities, parents and caregivers, and, most importantly, infants and toddlers. It is also the moral thing to do, assisting every kid in realizing his or her right to survive and develop.
We know that millions of young children are not reaching their full potential due to poor health, inadequate nutrition, stress, a lack of affection and early stimulation, and restricted early learning opportunities.
Nurturing care is a collection of factors that ensures children's health, nourishment, security, safety, responsive caregiving, and early learning opportunities. Nurturing children includes keeping them safe, healthy, and fed; paying attention to and reacting to their needs and interests; and encouraging them to explore their surroundings and engage with caregivers and others.
Nurturing care is essential, not just for boosting the development of young infants. It also shields children from the harshest consequences of hardship by reducing stress and boosting emotional and cognitive coping strategies. Nurturing care is extremely crucial for children with developmental challenges, as well as for preventing child abuse.
As a kid reaches the age of three, the need for care does not disappear. To consolidate achievements and handle obstacles associated with each stage, nurturing care tailored to children's developmental requirements should be provided throughout middle childhood and into adolescence.
Children require these five aspects of caring to realize their greatest potential.
The children's good health is the result of the caregivers, who:
These behaviors are dependent on the physical and emotional health of caregivers. For example, anemia in mothers might lead to indifference, making them less able to participate in responsive parenting. The condition might be exacerbated if the youngster is also indifferent or listless as a result of malnutrition or recurrent illness.
Nurturing care entails paying attention to the health and well-being of caregivers as well as children.
The mother's diet during pregnancy has an impact on her health and well-being, as well as the nutrition and growth of the growing child. When pregnant women are deficient in micronutrients, they require supplements, especially iron. Young children thrive on exclusive nursing from birth to the age of six months, as well as skin-to-skin bodily contact.
Young children need supplementary meals that are regular and diverse enough and that provide the micronutrients they require for the rapid growth of their body and brain, beginning at the age of six months. This is in addition to breast milk and must be provided in a way that allows for the social and emotional engagement that comes with feeding a young infant. When children's daily diets fail to promote healthy growth, they require micronutrient supplements or malnutrition therapy (including obesity). Adequate nutrition requires food safety and family food security.
Observing and responding to children's actions, noises, gestures, and verbal requests is part of responsive care. It serves as the foundation for:
Responsive care also involves responsive feeding, which is especially crucial for low-weight or unwell newborns. Cuddling, eye contact, smiles, vocalizations, and gestures are ways that young children communicate their connection with their caregivers before they learn to talk.
These mutually gratifying exchanges form an emotional attachment, which helps young toddlers grasp their surroundings and learn about people, relationships, and language. These social contacts also trigger neural connections in the brain.
Children do not begin to learn until they are three or four years old when they join kindergarten or pre-primary schools and are taught colors, shapes, and the alphabet. Learning, on the other hand, is a built-in process for humans that ensures our effective adaptability to changing circumstances.
It starts with conception, a biological phenomenon known as epigenesis. In the early years, we develop skills and capabilities for relational interaction with other people through hand and eye contact, chatting and trying to sing, imitation, and basic titles like "wave bye-bye".
Playing with basic household items such as tin cups, empty containers, and cooking pots may help a kid learn about the feel and quality of objects as well as what can be done with them. Even a busy caregiver can be motivated and confident enough to converse with a kid while feeding, washing, or performing other ordinary home activities.
These encounters increase the child's understanding of other people. Children in a family context require loving and secure care from adults, as well as the direction in everyday activities and connections with others. This provides young children with vital early social learning experiences.
Young children are unable to defend themselves and are exposed to unexpected danger, physical discomfort, and mental stress. Severe poverty and low income offer significant hazards that must be managed via social support, which may include cash transfers.
Pregnant women and small children are also more exposed to environmental hazards such as air pollution and chemical exposure. Little toddlers, once mobile, can touch and ingest potentially harmful things, and a filthy or dangerous environment is rife with potential hazards.
When individuals abandon or threaten to abandon or punish young infants, they might suffer great terror. Toddlers are the group most frequently violently disciplined across the world, being beaten painfully with sticks, belts, and other things. These events induce uncontrollable anxiety and stress, which can program the young child's response systems in ways that lead to emotional, mental, and social maladjustment.
Youngsters may retreat socially, develop a distrust of adults, or express their anxiety via hostility toward other children. It is necessary to ensure caregivers' mental health and to collaborate with them to prevent mistreatment. Nurturing care entails helping vulnerable young children feel safe and secure.