The first five years of your child’s life are crucial for setting them up for a lifetime of success – but where do new parents go to seek expert advice, parenting tips, and information on child development during the early years?
In terms of brain development, a child’s brain develops more rapidly during the first five years than any other point in their life. The early experiences you provide for your little one, especially ones that engage all of the senses, are fundamental for early learning. Thankfully, in the age of the Internet, plenty of information about early childhood education and developmental milestones is readily available for parents.
You are your child’s first teacher before they start attending school. Family members are the most important source of learning for young children. Families should equip themselves with the knowledge and insight necessary for teaching and raising children for success.
There are many resources available for families to learn about child development.
Parents can get information from:
Health professionals such as pediatricians, nurses, therapists, and counselors are trustworthy resources for parents to learn from. A child’s healthy development can be assessed by different medical professionals.
During the first years of life, your child should keep up with regular well-child appointments with a pediatrician to assess growth and development. Well-child checkups for infants are usually encouraged at 2 weeks, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months of age.
Toddlers and young children should be seen at 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, 2 1/2 years, 3 years, 4 years, and 5 years old. During these visits, a doctor can assess your child’s height, weight, physical abilities, social and emotional skills, nutrition, and developmental milestones.
In addition, your child might need other therapies such as feeding therapy, speech therapy, or occupational therapy. If you have any concerns about your child’s healthy development, consult your pediatrician to see if a referral to specialized services is needed.
Family members and friends
Extended family and close friends can also be reliable sources of information, especially if you’re a new parent. Parents can benefit from finding other families with children of similar ages to spend time with and learn from. Children learn through play, so having childhood friends is important to their emotional, social, and cognitive development. Other members of the family can also help a child learn through activities such as cooking, visiting the park, or playing a board game together.
If you’re not sure where to find other parents of infants and young children, try asking in local parenting groups on Facebook or by using websites and mobile apps such as Peanut. Creating social relationships for your little one can further their emotional and social development.
Many communities have programs for parents of young children. For example, many public libraries host parenting workshops, story time for young children, and other community events. Several states have programs geared toward helping parents of babies and young children, such as First 5 in California. Parents can also find a wide variety of meetup groups by checking local parenting Facebook pages.
Preschool teachers and early childhood educators
Early childhood educators can help parents understand the different stages of development for their children. Depending on your child’s age, daycare or preschool might be a great option to help him grow and thrive. Young children benefit from being around other children of similar ages, supported by teachers and staff who are skilled at providing care for and nurturing the development of young kids. Early leaning can be enhanced both at home and at a care facility that meets the needs of your individual child.
Parenting support groups, both in-person and online, are a wonderful resource for parents. The KeaCommunity, KeaBabies‘ online parenting support group on Facebook, is a great space to meet other parents and discuss issues related to child development, breastfeeding, baby wearing, parenting products, and more! The KeaCommunity is a safe, inclusive space for parents all over the country to connect with one another and support each other.
Parents can access The KeaCommunity at https://www.facebook.com/groups/keababieslove.
For breastfeeding-specific support, La Leche League International (LLLI) is a reliable resource! La Leche League is an international support group that aims to help mothers establish positive breastfeeding relationships through support, education, and encouragement. LLLI leaders believe that a positive breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby can stimulate optimal physical and emotional growth for the infant.
Information about LLLI can be found at https://www.llli.org.
In-person support groups can be helpful, too. Many medical practices and hospitals offer free support groups for parents of infants. These support groups might have guest speakers, discussions, play time for infants, or education on specific topics such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, sibling relationships, or nutrition.
Online tools and resources
In addition to parenting support groups, family, and friends, there are a multitude of resources available with the click of a button! Parenting in the age of digital information can be helpful because there are so many wonderful resources that parents can access online.
Here are a few helpful websites for parenting information:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html): The CDC’s list of developmental milestones is organized by age, making it the perfect resource for parents navigating their baby’s growth and development. You can find information on milestones your baby will accomplish from two months of age all the way through age five!
NAEYC (www.naeyc.org): The NAEYC website has resources for parents of children birth through age 8. Parents can find research-based articles on parenting and educating young children.
Child Mind Institute (www.childmind.org): The Child Mind Institute seeks to support parents and children with mental health and learning disorders. Parents can learn about topics such as ADHD, anxiety, autism, learning disorders, and more.
American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org): The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a wonderful resource for parents who are looking for information on a child’s development from infancy through young adulthood. The AAP’s parenting website (www.healthychildren.org) includes texting programs for parents who would like weekly updates and parenting tips and also has lists of milestones children should meet at certain ages.
Involved, informed parents can enable their children to thrive in the world.
A parent’s mission should truly be to raise children to grow and thrive in today’s world. Thankfully, there are many wonderful resources available for parents to support their child’s early learning and development. From online resources to community programs to in-person support groups, parents can form their “village” to help raise their children.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.