Healthy Starts: Social and Emotional Development in Babies and Toddlers

While it’s known that children should receive regular medical and dental check-ups to monitor their development, a baby’s social-emotional development is just as important to ensure healthy growth. Much like physical development, how a baby develops emotionally can tell us whether they’re on track to becoming stable and healthy teenagers and adults. Recent research studies suggest that forming close relationships with parents and caregivers, showing emotions, and being interested in the world around them, are all important signs of a baby’s emotional well-being.

As early as 3 months – well before a baby utters his or her first words – babies experience a whole range of emotions like joy, sadness, anger, interest, and excitement. Children who feel loved, comforted, and have the freedom to play form more brain connections, which increases their ability to trust, relate, communicate, and learn.

On the flip side, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are known to be correlated to an increase in child behavioral problems and mental/emotional health problems in adults.

Dr. Arturo Brito, Executive Director of The Nicholson Foundation, explains ACEs and the importance of investing in babies.