Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Nurturing care for early childhood development: Linking survive and thrive to transform health and human potential

An infant and woman gaze into the face of the other.
K R Harsha/flickr

Nurturing care framework for early childhood development launched at the 71st World Health Assembly

Executive summaries

More resources

Latest developments

September 2019 -- Country profiles updated

Early childhood development country profiles have been expanded from 91 to 138 countries and updated to 2018

June 2019 -- Innovating for early childhood development

In a follow-up to the launch of the Nurturing Care Framework in 2018, WHO, UNICEF, and the World Bank Group, with support from PMNCH and ECDAN, convened a meeting to take stock of implementation and to discuss strategic directions and partnerships for technical support and accelerated actions in countries.

April 2019 -- WHO guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age

Children under five must spend less time sitting watching screens, or restrained in prams and seats, get better quality sleep and have more time for active play if they are to grow up healthy, according to new guidelines


Background to the Nurturing Care Framework

Investing in early childhood development is one of the best investments a country can make to boost economic growth, promote peaceful and sustainable societies, and eliminate extreme poverty and inequality. Equally important, investing in early childhood development is necessary to uphold the right of every child to survive and thrive.

Global institutions have prioritized early childhood development in their programmes of work. Now they need to work together in a unified way towards shared goals, and to inspire more governments and other stakeholder groups to invest in early childhood development. The time to act is now.

In response to this urgent need, WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, in collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, the Early Childhood Development Action Network and many other partners, have developed this Nurturing Care Framework.

The Framework builds upon state-of-the art evidence of how child development unfolds and of the effective policies and interventions that can improve early childhood development. It outlines:

  • why efforts to improve health and wellbeing must begin in the earliest years, from pregnancy to age 3;
  • the major threats to early childhood development;
  • how nurturing care protects young children from the worst effects of adversity and promotes physical, emotional and cognitive development;
  • what families and caregivers need to provide nurturing care for young children.

The Framework describes how a whole-of-government and a whole-of-society approach can promote and strengthen the Nurturing Care of young children, what the guiding principles for doing so are, and what strategic actions are needed, and the monitoring of targets and milestones that are essential to progress.

Through mutually accountable partnerships between relevant sectors – health, nutrition, education, social welfare, child protection, and environmental health – the Nurturing Care Framework inspires common action and promotes common results through country leadership.

The Framework provides a roadmap for ensuring attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and survive, thrive and transform goals of the Global Strategy on Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.

For more information please contact: nurturingcare@who.int

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