Research-Based Parent Education and Support

Child Development Resources: Where to look for support in the early years

Posted by mlkropp on Jan 20, 2016 in Child Development, Recent | 0 comments

Child Development Resources: Where to look for support in the early years

Katy was fascinated by her baby’s development. She carefully observed every new skill and developmental milestone, celebrated her son’s trajectory and diligently sought answers to her questions from a number of sources including books, magazines and websites. She was pleased to see that her son was right on track, if not a little ahead of the curve on most developmental markers. Katy had faithfully consulted the book, What to Expect When You are Expecting throughout her pregnancy and had come to depend on its reliability in predicting and explaining the changes taking place within her body before they even occurred.

Two years later, when Katy’s second child was born, Katy naturally expected familiar occurrences. This baby, however, was different. She did not follow the same developmental track as her older brother had taken. Katy began to worry. Was something wrong with her little girl? Was she all right? Katy wondered if she would ever be able to talk, run and play, and eventually be successful in school.

Katy’s fears turned out to be unfounded. Both her young children were developing normally and neither has encountered any need for special intervention in their learning and growing processes. What Katy initially forgot to take into account was the fact that child development is not as predictable and uniform as a pregnancy. The information we know about a fetus’ development during pregnancy is largely biological. Once babies are born, we are able to observe and analyze them beyond their biology. As we begin to responsively interact with them we notice their temperaments and personalities begin to emerge. Outside influences such as the physical environment, the family’s culture, the psychological conditions of the primary caregivers, schedules, routines, consistency, responsiveness levels and nurturance can play an enormous role in all aspects of babies’ development.

A baby’s genetic make up coupled with the experiences and nurturing the baby receives throughout the early years of development all play a role in their rate of development. Caregivers have the potential to powerfully influence the development of small children in a meaningful way. Parents can arm themselves with relevant information by seeking out the expertise of service providers, researchers and authors. Parents can offer responsive interactions and nurturance to their children, adapting to their needs as their children grow and develop.

Each child’s primary caregiver is ultimately the best source of knowledge about that particular child. However, a vast amount of useful and relevant research based information and tools are available to parents and other caregivers. Face to face interactions with experienced and caring people such as grandparents, trusted friends, physicians and teachers can provide a valuable source of knowledge about what to expect in child development and how to best your child’s growth. Other sources include apps, social media and dynamic websites.

Imagine an app that can provide you with daily tips and reminders on ways to interact with your child in order to maximize the moments you spend together to support healthy development and learning! A group of knowledgeable scientists did just that and came up with a personalized app that will send you a daily reminder with links to more information about your child’s current stage of development. Download the app called VROOM and find out more at

Social media is an excellent source of information on child rearing, when you know which sources you can trust. Aside from Nurturance (which you can follow on Facebook and Twitter by clicking on the icons on the menu bar) here are two organizations I highly recommend: Too Small to Fail (on Twitter and Facebook) and Vroom on Facebook.

Websites can be an amazing resource for parents, particularly when they are interactive and up to date. Visit the websites listed below for current, relevant information related to child development and child rearing.


Resources Logo_CDC

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information on developmental milestones for children from 2 months to 5 years.  In addition to charts, videos and printable materials, the CDC provides links for training resources and people and places to contact for more information.



Harvard LogoCenter on the Developing Child 

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University provides information on the latest research on early child development.  Parents and caregivers can find useful links to videos and white papers summarizing current findings reported in scientific journals as well as interest ion information on innovative initiatives promoting the healthy development of children.



Resources Logo_NCEMCH

National Center for Maternal and Child Health

Although the National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health at Georgetown University is aimed at medical professionals and policy makers concerned with maternal and child health outcomes, parents can access information on current research findings on their website as well.  Of particular interest to parents is the information on sleep and the tools offered under the title “When to seek help and what to expect.”



Resources Logo_Parenting ScienceParenting Science

The Parenting Science website contains a collection of articles on a host of topics related to child development and child rearing.  From the author of the website, Dr. Gwen Dewar:  “As a biological anthropologist and science writer, I created the Parenting Science website for parents who are interested in the big picture — child-rearing and child development considered from the perspectives of anthropology, evolution, psychology, and neuroscience.”



pbs_parents_logoPBS Child Development Tracker

The PBS website has a convenient and easy to use child development tracker as well as relevant articles on child development and parenting tips.




Zero to Three Baby Brain Map &  Zero to Three Parenting Podcasts

Zero to Three is the organization of the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families.  The Zero to Three website provides an interactive brain map feature to help parents better understand the neurological development that occurs during the early childhood years.  Parents can also access podcasts on various topics related to child development and parenting.


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