10 Facts about Early Childhood Development you need to know!

From birth, babies can see and hear.

UNICEF
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UNICEF
28 November 2015

1- From birth, babies can see and hear.
The baby sees the caregiver’s face and loves to respond to her smiles and sounds. The caregiver’s face is the favorite thing the young baby wants to look at. The caregiver should begin to talk to her baby from birth – and even before birth.
 

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2- Young babies need consistent responsive care.
Babies communicate by responding to the slightest movement and sound, even smell of the caregiver. When the caregiver responds back, the interaction between the caregiver and the baby becomes like a dance. This special relationship may be established during feeding from the very first days. The baby securely “attaches” to the person who consistently holds her, loves her, and helps her feel safe. This connection or bond lasts for a lifetime.

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3- Children are curious. They want to find out how they can change and affect people and things around them, even from the first months of age.
Children learn by playing and trying things out, and by observing and copying what others do.There is an ongoing interaction between the child and her environment which effects the child’s development.

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4- Much of what children learn, they learn when they are very young.
The brain develops most rapidly before birth and during the first two years of life. Good health, good nutrition and nurturing are especially important during this time. Eighty per cent of human brain’s structure takes shape between the ages of 0-3 and the 90 percent of the human brain’s structure takes shape until the age of 5.

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5- Children need a safe environment as they learn.
Children are always exploring new things and learning new skills. They need a clean, safe, and protected physical environment to be safe from injuries and accidents while they are playing and learning. More than 200 million children under 5 years are not fulfilling their developmental potential.

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6- Children are the first scientists.
Play gives children many opportunities to think and solve problems. Children can learn by playing with pots and pans, cups and spoons, and other clean and safe household items. They learn by banging, dropping, and putting things in and taking things out of containers. Children learn by stacking things up and watching things fall, and testing the sounds of different objects by hitting them together. Play is like children’s “work”.

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7- Efforts to improve early child development are an investment, not a cost. 
For every dollar spent on improving early child development, the return can be 8.14 dollars. The return/cost ratio is highest in early childhood.

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8- Pay attention to your children’s movements, sounds, and cries.
Children communicate to express their needs. For example babies show hunger by becoming fussy, sucking their hand, or moving their heads toward the breast. Using these clues, a caregiver can learn to recognize that a child is hungry before the child starts to cry.

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9- Child development can be promoted by simple age appropriate activities that can be easily done at home. 
For example, to help the baby follow an object you can show a colorful cup to your baby, just out of reach. When you are sure the child sees the cup, move it slowly from one side to the other and up and down, in front of the child. Then move the cup closer. Encourage the baby to reach for the cup and grab the handle. Praise her efforts.

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10- Copying the baby’s sounds and gestures starts a good communication game.
It helps the caregiver to look closely at the child, be sensitive to the child’s sounds and movements, and follow – respond to – the child’s lead. Even before the child is able to speak, he delights in being able to communicate through his sounds and movements.

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In many countries around the world, millions of children with developmental risks, difficulties and disabilities are unable to develop to their full potential unlike their peers growing up in more advantaged environments. The International Developmental Pediatrics Congress aims to play a role in addressing this inequity by creating an “international transdisciplinary home” for clinicians, researchers, advocates and policy makers in the field of developmental pediatrics and other disciplines related to child development and disability. To learn more visit: http://www.idpcongress.org/ 
 
Source: UNICEF-WHO Care For Child Development Participants Manual, 2012, ISBN 978 92 4 154840 3