By Samantha Iwinski, M.S. and Kelly Bost, Ph.D.
In our April webinar, we discussed the importance of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) and how it is crucial to consider in promoting children’s healthy development. We also discussed ways to promote IECMH and what factors may influence it.
Several requests were submitted in the chat during the live webinar that we would also like to address. The requests were for more resources regarding (1) materials to educate families and providers on healthy and unhealthy signs of IECMH and (2) prenatal substance use and IECMH.
The CDC has several materials that could be given to parents and displayed in classrooms or other educational settings. They briefly describe milestones at different ages, including social and emotional milestones. They also have tips/suggestions regarding encouraging healthy development in these areas and when screening may be needed. The second link describes how to download the free “milestone tracker” app that offers fun activities at each age for healthy development.
There is an abundance of research on the effects of prenatal substance use and children’s development, with most outcomes focused on neurodevelopmental and behavioral assessments. These are important, however, because neurodevelopment is intertwined with social and emotional development, especially with respect to self-regulation. Below are links to (a) an overview of the effects of different substances on child outcomes, (b) longitudinal findings regarding prenatal exposure to cannabis and mental health, and (c) a recent study on the effects of e-cigarette use during pregnancy on early developmental screenings.
- Polysubstance Use in Pregnancy
- Baranger, D. A., Paul, S. E., Colbert, S. M., Karcher, N. R., Johnson, E. C., Hatoum, A. S., & Bogdan, R. (2022). Association of mental health burden with prenatal cannabis exposure from childhood to early adolescence: longitudinal findings from the adolescent brain cognitive development (ABCD) study. JAMA pediatrics, 176(12), 1261-1265.
- Froggatt, S. et al. (2020). The effects of prenatal cigarette and e-cigarette exposure on infant neurobehaviour: A comparison to a control group, eClinicalMedicine, 28,
No matter what your professional role with families and children may be, it is critical to understand and promote IECMH. This applies to work with military families, special education providers, and everyone else!
The webinar is available on-demand on the event page. You will want to view it to learn:
- What IECMH is
- The factors and pathways that influence IECMH
- The role early childhood professionals have in promoting positive IECMH
- Healthy and unhealthy signs of IECMH
- Ways to support healthy IECMH development for infants and their families
Here you can also find links to the additional resources and other important handouts to help you implement the strategies discussed in the webinar.