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Raising Healthy Infants and Toddlers: It's More Than Physical Health
By Michele Myers-Cepicka

When most of us think of healthy babies, we tend to think of their physical health. While physical health is very important, social and emotion health of babies is also critical. Babies begin to learn to interact with us from birth. What they learn early makes a lifetime of difference. When infants cry and the adult comes to take care of their dirty diaper, their distress or their hunger, babies learn to trust that the adult will be there when they need them. They attach to the adult. So what happens when the adult just comes sometimes or intermittently? The baby doesn't learn to trust. This can cause long-term and often lifetime difficulties for the child.

Babies most at-risk of this interruption of attachment most often include children of parents addicted to drugs or alcohol, parents with mental illness, children adopted from orphanages where there were multiple caregivers, children who were abused and/or neglected, children in foster care and children who receive poor early care, amongst others. Not all children in these situations develop attachment problems. Some babies are resilient and overcome these parenting issues ... but not all.

If you have an infant or toddler (birth to age 3) whose development is slower than other children or who may have experienced early care issues and would like to have the child assessed in all areas of development, call the Alliance for Infants and Toddlers at (412) 885-6000. The assessment and services are at no cost to you if your child qualifies. The staff can also help you to find a variety of social services if you need them.

Michele Myers Cepicka, Executive Director of the Alliance for Infants and Toddlers, can be reached at (412) 885-6000 or mcepicka@afit.org. Visit www.afit.org.

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