YOUR child's brain develops faster in the first five years than in any other time of their life, which highlights how important this time is to their overall wellbeing throughout life.
Development is a general term that envelops changes in your child's physical growth, but also in their social, emotional, behaviour, thinking and communication growth.
It's early experiences in your child's first five years that stimulates their brain. What they touch, taste, smell, see and hear will create a foundation for their ongoing learning, health and behaviour as they go to primary school then high school and into the adult world.
It's important to remember you can't silo physical growth from emotional or social etc. All aspects of development interact with, influence and impact each other.
Relationships are key
Your child's relationships are one of the most important influences on their development. How they interact with the other people will teach them about and impact how they see the world around them.
Relationships teach them about whether the world is safe and secure, whether they are loved and cared for, how people will react to when they cry or laugh and so much more.
One of the most important relationships your child has is the one they have with you as a parent or carer. A nurturing and loving relationship will teach your child what they need and how you will meet these needs. It will help them develop and grow and little more every day.
Your child will also be influenced by the relationships they witness, whether it's how their parent interacts with their sibling, or how the parents interact with each other etc. Just keep in mind your child is watching and listening, you want to set a good example!
While relationships are vital to development, there are other important influences that help form a strong foundation within them.
Healthy eating gives your child the energy and nutrients they need to engage with the world and grow as a person. Encouraging healthy eating habits from a young age can help your child grow and set them up for life.
Play and physical activity is also important. To develop physically you want your child moving and developing motor skills so you need to give your child plenty of opportunity for active play whether its indoors or outside.
Your community and neighbourhood are also an important influence on your child's development. Access to playgrounds, a good kindergarten or child care, parks, shops, libraries and other community infrastructure can have a positive impact on your child.
Lastly, health will have a big influence on your child's development. Minor illnesses won't have a huge impact, but sometimes children will develop chronic or long-term conditions that slow their growth.
Often these illnesses are out of your control and its important you be a positive influence and support your child's growth in what can be difficult circumstances. Make sure you talk to your child's GP, paediatrician or a child health nurse about it.