Early childhood development

Early childhood (the period from birth until the age of 8) is the most important stage of development in a child’s life.

In the early years of a child’s life, especially the first 1,000 days when brain development is at its most rapid, children learn skills that are critical for all aspects of their lives.

For their brains and bodies to develop healthily, young children need parents or caregivers who:

  • Create a loving and responsive environment
  • Give their children nutritious food and clean water
  • Protect their children from common illnesses and violence
  • Provide opportunities for play and early learning.

However, millions of young children grow up without the care and services they need to survive and thrive.

We ensure young children receive the nurturing care they need, including during emergencies. Our work improves children’s health, nutrition, play, early learning and safety while challenging limiting and discriminatory gender stereotypes that hold girls back from an early age.