10 Tips for Raising Happier Healthier Children

What you do the first three years of your baby’s life directly impacts the adult your child will become. New breakthrough research tells us that the first three years of a child’s life are more important for emotional and intellectual growth than we ever thought before. Experiences that fill babies’ first days, months and years have a decisive impact on the structure of a child’s brain and, in turn, on every aspect of a child’s life throughout adulthood.

So remember, when you cuddle, coo and sing lullabies to your baby, you are not just expressing love, you are providing vital nourishment for his or her healthy development. Quite simply, the first years last forever.

  1. Be warm, loving and responsive. When children receive warm responsive care, they are more likely to feel safe and secure with the adults who take care of them.
  2. Respond to the child’s cues and clues. Recognize and respond to the sounds, movements and expressions that your child makes. This will help you build secure attachments.
  3. Talk, sing, and read to your child. All of these interactions help your child’s brain make the connections it needs for growth and later learning.
  4. Establish rituals and routines. Teach your child to know when it’s time for bed by developing routines such as singing a song and pulling the curtains-daily routines and rituals associated with pleasurable feelings are reassuring for children.
  5. Encourage safe exploration and play. As infants grow, they begin to explore the world beyond their child care providers. Parents should encourage this exploration. While many of us think of learning as simply acquiring facts, children actually learn through playing.
  6. Make television watching selective. Watch television with your child, and talk about what you are viewing. Don’t use TV as a baby-sitter.
  7. Use discipline as an opportunity to teach. In addition to consistent and loving adult supervision, teach your child limits. Never hit or shake a child.
  8. Recognize that each child is unique. Children grow at different rates. Their ideas and feelings about themselves reflect, in large measure, parents’ and providers’ attitude towards them.
  9. Choose quality child care and stay involved. Frequently visit your child care provider and seek someone who responds warmly and responsively to your baby’s needs.
  10. Take care of yourself. Parents need care too. When you are exhausted, irritable, depressed or overwhelmed, you may have a harder time meeting the needs of young children.