In the first years of life, neurons in our brain form new connections at the astounding rate of 700–1,000 per second – a pace never repeated again.

These connections are the building blocks of a child’s future. But if a child is poorly nourished and nurtured, if she isn’t stimulated properly and protected from violence, then her development is seriously affected, sometimes irreversibly.

A child whose brain does not develop properly may not learn as well or earn as much. Not developing to her full potential hurts both her and society.

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

For every child, early moments matter.


Investing in nurturing care for every child

The early moments of life offer an unparalleled opportunity to build the brains of the children who will build the future.

But far too often, it is an opportunity squandered.

For nations, the price of not investing in early moments is children with poorer health, fewer learning skills and reduced earning potential. It is a weaker economy and a greater burden on health, education and welfare systems. It is intergenerational cycles of disadvantage that hinder equitable growth and prosperity. For children, especially children from disadvantaged communities, the price of this failure is lost potential.

Early Moments Matter for every child presents data, practices and policies that can put governments on the path to success for children and success in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Call to action: Building brains, building futures

The evidence is clear: Early childhood development must be a global and national priority.

Governments already have pledged to achieve the early childhood development targets in the 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.

UNICEF calls for governments and partners to:

“What’s the most important thing a child has? It’s her brain. And yet, we’re not caring for children’s brains the way we care for their bodies.”

Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF

360-degree video: Every second counts

Follow the journey of a child from baby to toddler, and discover how protection, nutrition and stimulation in the earliest years of life build children’s brains.

Experience the film on your phone, computer or with a headset to see how to make the #EarlyMomentsMatter, for every child.

Spoiler alert: eat, play, love!

#EarlyMomentsMatter video screenshot

UNICEF in action

Imagine a world in which all children, everywhere, achieve their developmental potential by 5 years of age. UNICEF aims to make this vision a reality by the year 2030.

Parenting tips


How do you play with your baby? How do you get your baby to smile? Here are some top tips on how to support your child’s development.




 

The best start in life

The groundbreaking feature documentary The Beginning of Life shows us how important a child’s earliest years are and how all of us – mothers, fathers and caregivers – can create the best possible environment for our children.

The 90-minute movie depicts how social environments are as important as genetics in influencing children’s development.

Research and resources

UNICEF extends a special thank you to the H&M Foundation for supporting the Early Moments Matter for every child report and engaging in efforts around the globe to provide the best start in life for every child.