Module 1: Promoting Mental Health in Infancy

Key Components of Healthy Mental Development in InfancyHealthy Mental Development

During the first year of life, a baby begins to experience a growing sense of self as an individual. A protective environment and a supportive family promote positive and healthy growth.

The following pages examine the roles of the family and the provider in helping the infant successfully achieve social and emotional developmental goals. Topics include:

  • Temperament
  • “Goodness of Fit"
  • Self-Regulation, including
    • Feeding
    • Sleep/Wake Behaviors
    • Emotions
    • Infant Distress
  • Family Formation
  • Attachment
  • Cognitive Development
  • Communication
  • Play
  • Mastery
  • Stimulating Environments (including child care)

The interview questions, provider tips, and guidance for families suggested on the following pages are intended to be used selectively to promote healthy mental development; when a provider suspects or identifies mental health problems; or whenever a parent raises concerns about the infant's development, learning, or behavior.

Resources for Families and Providers

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Online

Learn the Signs. Act Early.

What to Expect and When to Seek Help: Social and Emotional Development in Infancy PDF

Shonkoff JP, Phillips DA (eds.), and Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development. 2000. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

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