Learn about your child's development and find information on parenting skills and tips, activities for babies, toddlers and young children and links to support agencies.
From birth to five years of age, the brain develops at a faster rate than at any other time.
Evidence tells us that early positive experiences influence brain development and can have a long-term effect on physical and mental health, learning and behaviour.
Parents and carers have the most influence on children’s development in the early years which can prove quite challenging when a new baby comes along.
On this page you will find information and tips relating to your child's age and developmental stage. Refer to the side menu for more age specific information.
The support agencies listed below provide information and support to parents and carers of young children.
What do we know about the early years?
- You can’t spoil a baby in their first year. Babies learn by trust and do this by feeling safe, by you being predictable and being there when they need you.
- Babies with strong positive bonds to their caregivers have been found to learn better and cope better with stressful situations
- Babies’ brains at birth are similar. It is experience (good and bad) that makes the difference in how we develop, socially, emotionally and intellectually.
- Good experiences are kind, affectionate, consistent, and predictable.
- The best toy is a caring adult who pays attention to a child’s cues and engages with them, plays with them using words, songs, touch and smiles
- Children learn from watching and copying. Be a good model. Avoid exposing children to watching antisocial models, actions and events.
- Play helps children develop the skills they will use for other things. Through play that involves them doing things themselves children use and build knowledge through trying, working out problems, imagining and pretending, talking and negotiating with others, reasoning and explaining.
- Empathy, the ability to understand and be affected by the actions and feelings of others is learned by watching and experiencing it. It is a very important part of successful human relationships.
We know that:
- Children are born ready to learn, the brain develops through use
- Good nutrition, health, and exercise are critical
- The best learning happens in nurturing relationships
- Children’s wellbeing is critical to brain development and learning
- Children learn through being engaged and doing
- Children learn from watching and copying
- Children’s self-control is critical for learning, responsibility and relationships
- Children learn language by listening to it and using it
Children only learn when they feel safe and their basic needs are met. This sense of safety comes comes from a nurturing, predictable, responsive, calm environment.
What can parents do?
Find out what local service providers can offer to help you enjoy the early years.
- Be physically active and safeguard children from physical and emotional harm.
- Provide lots of opportunities to practice physical skills – visit playgrounds, parks, walk rather than take transport.
- Encourage children to help you with physical tasks like getting dressed, sweeping floors, leaves, hanging out clothes.
- Join a playgroup - make opportunities for children to form relationships with other children and adults.
- Check out the workshops and resources available from early years’ service providers.