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Ten Things Every Child Needs

At birth, an infant’s brain is only 25 percent of the size of an average adult’s brain. Incredibly, by age 3, a child’s brain has grown to 90 percent of that of an adult's brain. During infancy and early childhood, children are flooded with new experiences that impact their brain development. The first 3 years of a child’s life offer parents and other caregivers an amazing opportunity to shape the child’s growth and form healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Encourage Interaction

A child’s brain develops based on early experiences at home. The more interactions a child has, the healthier his/her development will be.

Offer Physical Affection

Physical affection communicates love to young children, which in turn fosters positive emotional growth.

Provide a Stable Relationship

Children who have a stable relationship with at least one caregiver learn at a faster pace, feel better about themselves, and make friends more easily.

Maintain a Safe, Healthy Home

Creating a safe and healthy home and/or child care environment allows you to maximize children’s growth with minimal risk.

Develop Strong Self Esteem

A strong sense of self is the foundation for healthy development in young children.

Engage in Conversation

Communicating with your child/children not only shows love, but also encourages the development of his/her speech patterns.

Make Music

Music offers children an outlet for expression and stimulates brain development in specific areas including language and reasoning.

Make Reading a Priority

Reading with children demonstrates a love for books and learning, and is a wonderful way for parents/caregivers and children to spend quality time together.

Promote Play

Playing provides children with an outlet for imagination and creativity and fosters healthy brain development.

Choose Quality Childcare

Since childcare settings can be a primary learning environment for children, the quality of the child care setting is very important.

The first 3 years of life are the most critical in terms of encouraging healthy development. It is important for parents and caregivers to start as soon as possible to build the foundation that will help their children reach their full potential. The good news is that what every child needs—every parent and caregiver can give. If we care for our children and give them what they need early in life, their future will be full of possibilities.

Source: 10 Things Every Child Needs DVD, Copyright 1997. Used with permission from the McCormick Foundation and ND Dept. of Human Services.

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