Early childhood development

The first years of life are critical for the physical, emotional and intellectual development of a child. See how UNICEF’s ECD programme helps children in Serbia reach their full potential.

Mother breastfeeding a baby with her family supporting them


Helping children reach their full potential

Early childhood development (ECD) programmes are important during the earliest years. During this time the brain develops faster than at any other time in life and that is why interventions are highly effective at this time.

The early years is a period of great opportunities and represents a foundation for development, especially for vulnerable children.


UNICEF strengthens the ability of healthcare and other sectors to provide quality early childhood development services, particularly to vulnerable children and their families – those living in poverty, Roma children and children with disabilities.


We advocate for strong infant and young child feeding policies and the scale-up of proven interventions from pregnancy through the first two years of life – from maternal nutrition, early and exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months, to the improvement in the nutritional status of the most vulnerable children.


We support services that help parents and other caregivers provide children with affection, attention and stimulation, in addition to good nutrition, proper health care and protection.

Early childhood education

Our work is focused on providing equitable access to quality inclusive pre-school education, which provides meaningful learning opportunities to all children within the regular education system.


UNICEF works to improve the quality of services in maternity wards and neonatal intensive care units. We promote mother and baby friendly care, protection and support; support exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months; and we promote family and development care for young children, especially for preterm babies.

We focus on:
• Improving the work of paediatric and community nursing services for parents
• Promoting the importance of stimulation for optimal development
• Early detection and mitigation of developmental risks
• Developing an early intervention system for children with disabilities and their families

 A strong bond between parents and a child is the best foundation for child development.

Visiting nurse playing with a child in her home

Visiting nurses

The only professional support for families who come into their homes; providing services in a family environment.

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A boy playing with his mother in a developmental counselling units

Developmental counselling units

Developmental counseling units provide support to parents and children if a child has a developmental problem.

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Roma health mediator playing with a young Roma girl

Roma health mediators

Through field visits, they can recognize the health and social needs of the Roma population and help them solve them.

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