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What is Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Mental health in infancy and early childhood means healthy social and emotional development, secure and nurturing relationships, and caring, supportive communities.

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

According to the ZERO TO THREE Infant Mental Health Task Force, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health is the developing capacity of the child from birth to age 3 to:


• experience, regulate, and express emotions
• form close and secure interpersonal relationships, and
• explore the environment and learn 

All in the context of family, community, and cultural expectations for young children.

As a field, infant and early childhood mental health is an interdisciplinary approach to research, practice, and public policy concerned with maximizing the well-being of infants, young children, and their caregivers through promotion, early identification, preventive intervention, treatment, and support.

First 5 Alabama is a Member Organization of
The Alliance is a global organization that includes multiple states and international associations whose infant mental health associations have licensed the use of the Competency Guidelines® and Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health® under their associations’ names.
The views, policies, and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 
©2020 by First 5 Alabama.