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Nurture Healthy Minds - Infant and Child Mental Health

Mental health refers to the way we think, feel, relate to others, cope with stress, and make decisions. It also includes the way we view ourselves.1


For our children to thrive emotionally, socially and mentally they need:

A Safe Place to Grow
Although genetics plays an important role in early brain development, experiences and environments can impact mental health in either a positive or negative way. We can promote children’s mental health by providing a safe, stable and nurturing environment for children.1

Someone to Love Who Also Loves Them
Children need us to supervise them and be there when they need reassurance, comfort and a playmate. Children also need to know they are loved, and protected. Look for opportunities when you are with your child to show them you love them and care about. Tell your child you love them, snuggle when he/she wants to be snuggled, play games together, do quiet activities together like reading or colouring, ask about their day. Learn more about attachment.

To Understand Emotions
Children need to be taught how to cope with and identify emotions. It is also important for children to understand that emotions are temporary- they come and go like the weather.

  • Talk about what happens in the body when you feel anxious, angry, frustrated, excited, happy, or sad. This will help your child learn to read their emotions and also the emotions of others2
  • Point out the expressions of characters in books and TV shows and what their expression tells you about how they are feeling

Sleep, Eat Well, Daily Activity
To thrive we all need enough sleep to function at our full potential. Healthy eating and daily activity helps to grow healthy minds and bodies.


Baby smiling


Parents kissing baby

Skills to Thrive
Children can learn the skills of resiliency to help them bounce back from disappointment, and hard times and learn from mistakes.

Developmental Screening
One way to know your child is thriving is whether they are meeting their developmental milestones. You can have your child’s development screened regularly by their health care provider. If you have concerns about your child’s development talk to your child’s teacher, child care worker, or doctor for support.

Date of creation: April 18, 2017
Last modified on: April 18, 2017


1Iowa Association for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health. 5 Things You Should Know About Early Childhood Mental Health. Retrieved from
2iegel, D. & Payne-Bryson, T. (2012). The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary strategies To Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. Bantam Books Trade Paperbacks: New York.