Early Moments Matter

The first 1,000 days can shape a child’s future. We have one chance to get it right.

In North Macedonia, a young Roma girl looks up to her big brother in Skopje.

The first years of life have a profound effect on a child’s future – on her brain development, her health, her happiness, her ability to learn in school, her well-being and even the amount of money she can earn as an adult.

In this formative stage of life, a baby’s brain can form more than 1 million new brain connections every single second – a pace never repeated again.

Early moments matter. That’s why the right food, stimulation and care – or eat, play, love – are essential to a baby’s brain development in the first 1,000 days of life.

UNICEF’s Early Moments Matter campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of healthy brain development in the earliest years of life, increase investment by governments and businesses in Early Childhood Development programmes, policies and services, and support parents and caregivers to give their children the best start in life.

NEW: Discover UNICEF's campaign "It's About Time" that calls for parents and caregivers to get the support they need to bring up happy and healthy children. 

It’s About Time: Family-friendly policies

Being a parent is the most important job in the world. But many parents don’t get the time and support they need to be with their children. Family-friendly policies – such as paid parental leave, paid breastfeeding breaks and childcare – are not a reality for most new parents around the world.

That’s why UNICEF is calling on governments and companies to invest in family-friendly policies, so parents and caregivers get the time and support they need to bring up happy and healthy children.

What UNICEF’s calling for:

  1. At least 6 months of paid parental leave that is available for both parents
  2. Breastfeeding facilities and paid breastfeeding breaks for women returning to work
  3. Affordable, accessible and quality childcare services
  4. Child grants that support all families with children


Building brains, building futures: A six-point call to action

The evidence is clear: Early childhood development must be a global and national priority. Governments have already pledged to achieve the early childhood development targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But they need to back up this pledge with action and place early childhood development at the top of their economic and political agendas.

  1. Invest urgently in services that give young children, especially the most deprived, the best start in life.
  2. Expand access to effective and essential early childhood development services in homes, schools, communities and health clinics.
  3. Make family-friendly early childhood development policies a national priority – and a private sector imperative.
  4. Collect data on essential indicators of early childhood development and track progress.
  5. Provide dedicated leadership for early childhood development programmes and coordinate efforts more effectively across sectors.
  6. Drive demand for high-quality early childhood development services.

UNICEF Parenting

UNICEF understands that every new parent has thousands of questions. That’s why we launched UNICEF Parenting: to support parents and caregivers who do the most important job in the world.

UNICEF Parenting brings together some of the world’s leading baby experts to help parents raise healthy and happy children. Information parents can trust. Information that is useful. Information that will help them make the most of the first 1,000 days with their child.