Infant/Toddler - Early Learning - The Issues - BUILD Initiative
Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children


A large portion of a child’s foundational development occurs from birth to age three. Thus, the day-to-day, early care and education experiences of infants and toddlers influence their lifelong learning.

As infants and toddlers, children learn the basics of human interaction, including how to regulate their emotions, communicate with others, and generally make sense of the world. So it is obvious that early care needs to provide children with nurturance, comfort, and appropriate interaction with adults and peers, along with fun and active play. Quality early care also needs to meet the child at his or her level with keen attention to safety, health, and language development.

A Healthy Start

There is wide variation in early learning experiences that promote healthy development. Children from traditionally underserved communities – poor children, children from communities of color, English learners and more – are more affected by the quality of child care experiences.

To give every infant and toddler a healthy start, the BUILD Initiative is working states to:

  • Expand the supply and capacity for quality infant and toddler care.
  • Better integrate health and mental health supports into early care and education.
  • Provide quality and accessible training in early childhood development for all caregivers, both formal and informal.
  • Implement and refine guidelines for quality infant/toddler care as developed.
  • Align standards of care for infants and toddlers with school readiness programs.

For example, Illinois BUILD, working with partners, helped to secure $3.1 million in funding in 2011 to enhance infrastructure and access to home visiting services for our youngest at-risk children and families. New York’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, which leads the BUILD Initiative work, has formalized bringing parent input into decisions affecting infants and toddlers.

More Top Resources

Another Minnesota resource, Building Power for Babies, outlines the process for developing a prenatal to three plan for the state.

Additionally, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has a rich video library with several on the infant/toddler years.