National Partners Join Forces to Think Babies
Over 60 national organizations with diverse missions, memberships and expertise have joined the campaign.
In this resource
ZERO TO THREE created Think Babies™to make the potential of every baby our national priority. Early experiences shape how a baby’s brain develops, laying the foundation for future learning, behavior and health. Think Babies is a call to action for federal and state policymakers to prioritize the needs of infants, toddlers and their families and invest in our future.
Think Babies is powered by a growing network of advocates and partners across the country working together to educate policymakers and ensure that all babies and their families get the support they need to thrive, including quality affordable child care, time for parents to bond with their babies, healthy emotional development, and strong physical health and nutrition. Our national partners are sharing their unique perspectives on why it is important to Think Babies and providing deep expertise on key policy areas. From child care providers to pediatricians to police chiefs, our partners are elevating the voices of trusted messengers and champions for babies and mobilizing their networks of parents, professionals and advocates around the country.
The science is clear. Our brains grow faster between the ages of 0-3 than any later point in life, forming more than one million new neural connections every second. When babies have nurturing relationships, early learning experiences and good nutrition, those neural connections are stimulated and strengthened, laying a strong foundation for the rest of their lives. When babies don’t get what their growing brains need to thrive, they don’t develop as they should. This leads to life-long developmental, educational, social and health challenges. When we Think Babies and invest in infants, toddlers and their families, we ensure a strong future for us all.
Partners have joined us to make the case for Think Babies policy priorities and provided practical guidance for policymakers and advocates pursuing these goals. Our partners Think Babies by:
- Elevating the Focus on Babies in State and Federal Policy
- Supporting State Think Babies Campaigns
- Engaging Parents as Advocates
- Supporting an Equitable Start
- Promoting Think Babies Policy Priorities
Elevating the Focus on Babies in State and Federal Policy
In partnership with Think Babies, the National Governors Association (NGA) and National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) have developed resources for state policymakers on why it is important to focus on the needs of babies and toddlers, as well as summaries of research-based policy recommendations and recent legislation:
- Podcast on Brain Development and Childhood Adversity: This NCSL podcast explore research on adverse childhood experiences and the importance of positive early brain development and highlights what state legislators can do.
- Integrating and Advancing State Prenatal to Age 3 Policies: Informed by an expert roundtable meeting with state leaders and national experts, this NGA report lays out what governors can do to ensure strong futures for babies and their families.
- Helping Babies and Toddlers Thrive: A Look at Recent State Legislation: This policy brief from NCSL provides an overview of recent state legislation that supports infants, toddlers and their families, including laws focused on child care, paid family leave, and physical and emotional health.
- Working with State Legislators: A Guide for Infant-Toddler Professionals: This guide is designed to help infant-toddler professionals navigate their state legislatures and communicate effectively with legislators.
National partners also regularly join Think Babies efforts to educate Congress and advocate for federal programs and funding that help babies and their families thrive. For example, national partners work with ZERO TO THREE each year to spread the word about Strolling Thunder™, the marquee event of the Think Babies campaign, where families with babies and toddlers come from all over the country to share their stories with Members of Congress.
Supporting State Think Babies Campaigns
Several national partners – including American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA), Council for a Strong America (CSA), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) – are mobilizing their state affiliates in the six states with Think Babies campaigns to serve as active partners in state campaign coalitions. Many of these state affiliates are also amplifying the message to Think Babies with their networks through new resources, social media, sessions at professional conferences, and state and local events or advocacy trainings.
Engaging Parents as Advocates
Partners are engaging parents both in supporting their own children’s healthy development and becoming advocates for babies. For example, NBCDI developed and distributed Baby Brain Buildings: Tools and Tips for Families, a parenting tip sheet that also includes resources on how to become an advocate for policies that help babies and families thrive. In addition, MomsRising has engaged their network of parents in the Think Babies campaign on social media, including through a tweet chat focused on state Think Babies campaigns and how to get involved.
Supporting an Equitable Start
ZERO TO THREE is working with national partners to elevate a focus on racial and economic equity in state and federal policy. In partnership with Think Babies, PolicyLink developed a policy brief highlighting gaps in opportunity in early childhood, and making the case for both paid leave policy and investments in quality, affordable childcare to ensure that all babies have an equitable start. Through partnerships with NBCDI and Unidos US, we are raising awareness of inequities facing Black and Latino families with infants and toddlers. For example, Unidos US worked with Think Babies to publish stories and videos of promising strategies in North Carolina and Washington to support early childhood development in Latino communities.
Promoting Think Babies Policy Priorities
Think Babies partners actively engage in advocacy on social media to raise awareness and educate Congress on the campaign’s priorities of quality affordable child care, time for parents to bond with their babies, healthy emotional development, and strong physical health and nutrition. Several partners have also developed resources or participated in Think Babies advocacy efforts focused on specific campaign policy priorities. The following are highlights of these resources and activities:
Quality, affordable child care
Mapping Infant-Toddler Child Care Supply and Demand: Child Care Aware of America has developed a guide for state and community organizations to map infant-toddler child care supply and demand so that resources can be targeted to the greatest need.
Capitol Hill Briefing on the Economic Impact of Infant-Toddler Child Care: In partnership with Think Babies, Ready Nation hosted a 2019 Capitol Hill briefing on the economic impact of infant-toddler child care featuring business leaders and Members of Congress.
Family Child Care Messaging Kit: This toolkit, developed by All our Kin, in partnership with Think Babies, provides resources on how to elevate the important role of family child care in a mixed-delivery system for infants and toddlers.
Time for parents to bond with their babies
The Child Development Case for a National Paid Family and Medical Leave Program: This fact sheet from the National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF) and ZERO TO THREE summarizes research on the importance of paid leave to ensure that babies have adequate bonding time with parents and primary caregivers, which is essential for their healthy brain and emotional development.
New Video – “Time with my Youngest Daughter” – Makes the Case for Paid Family Leave: La Guardia Cross, the creator of the viral YouTube series New Father Chronicles, has partnered NPWF and Think Babies to release a video about why working parents and their babies need paid leave.
“Ask Us Anything” about Paid Family and Medical Leave: View the recording online of a 2018 Think Babies “Ask Us Anything” Facebook Live event featuring ZERO TO THREE, NPWF, Family Values@Work and the CEO of UnCommonGoods.
Healthy emotional development
Using Medicaid to Ensure the Healthy Social Emotional Development of Infants and Toddlers: This resource from Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF) highlights practical state strategies to ensure that young children and their families covered by Medicaid receive the support that they need to nurture healthy emotional development.
Tip Sheet: Why Advocates Should Elevate the Importance of Social and Emotional Development for Young Children: This tip sheet, also from CCF, describes both why and how state children’s policy advocates can support the healthy social and emotional development of children covered through Medicaid.
Strong physical health and nutrition
Nutrition in the First 1000 Days: A Foundation for Brain Development and Learning and Nutrition in the First 1000 Days: A Foundation for Lifelong Health: These two briefs from 1000 Days summarizes a body of research in the fields of neuroscience, nutrition, early childhood development, showing how good nutrition in pregnancy, infancy and toddlerhood play a critical role in supporting long-term learning and health outcomes.
The Importance of the Federal Nutrition Programs for Infants and Toddlers: This fact sheet from the Food Research & Action Center highlights research demonstrating the effective role of the federal nutrition programs during early childhood in improving food and economic security, dietary intake, health and development.
Think Babies State Fact Sheets, developed by FRAC, provide national and state-specific rates of hunger and poverty experienced by infants and toddlers, as well as the rates at which families with young children are accessing federal nutrition programs.
Rate of Uninsured Toddlers and Infants on the Rise: This report developed by the Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, shows an alarming increase in the rate of uninsured young children.
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