Babies and young children thrive when they are cared for by adults that are “crazy about them!” (Bronfenbrenner, 1976 1). Responsive relationships with consistent primary caregivers help build positive attachments that support healthy social-emotional development. These relationships form the foundation of mental health for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
"Infant mental health" is defined as the healthy social and emotional development of a child from birth to 3 years; and a growing field of research and practice devoted to the:
Promotion of healthy social and emotional development;
Prevention of mental health problems; and
Treatment of the mental health problems of very young children in the context of their families.2
The Still Face paradigm, designed by Edward Tronick, is an experimental procedure for studying infant social and emotional development. During the experiment, an infant and a parent interact playfully before the parent suddenly stops responding and looks away. After a short period, the parent reengages with the infant. The infant’s reaction to a suddenly unresponsive parent and his or her behavior when the parent resumes interaction, have been used to study many aspects of early social and emotional development.
This video clip is excerpted from ZERO TO THREE's Helping Babies From the Bench: Using the Science of Early Childhood Development in Court.
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1 Bronfenbrenner, U. (1976). The Ecology of Human Development. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press.
Little Kids, Big Questions: A Parenting Podcast Series From ZERO TO THREE™ - This series of 12 podcasts addresses some of the most common (and challenging) issues facing parents of babies and toddlers today, including sleep, crying, feeding and the development of self-control and self-esteem. Each podcast features an interview with an expert that focuses on how to apply the research of early childhood development to your daily interactions with your baby or toddler.
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