Young Children's Health and Well-Being

Young Children's Health and Well-Being

Young Children's Health and Well-Being

Young Children's Health and Well-Being


The true wealth of a nation can be measured by the health of its youngest citizens and in the twenty-first century, children's health and well-being is largely determined by social, environmental and economic influences.

This book explores how factors such as parent-child relationships, family networks and social support, housing, poverty and the safety of the environment impact on children's early experiences and have consequences for their later health and well-being.

Topics include:

  • Promoting infant mental health
  • Family transitions
  • Poverty, relative poverty and health inequalities
  • Growth and nutrition
  • Young children under stress
  • Child public health
  • Young children's involvement in health
  • Research with young children and families
Underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and an ecological systems framework, this book takes difference and diversity into account to celebrate the rights of every individual child.

Young Children's Health and Well-Being is a comprehensive health text for students of early childhood. It is also important reading for student teachers, community practitioner nurses, social work students and others who work with young children and their families.


Early childhood is a critical period of the life course in which the developing brain and body are undergoing rapid change, making them vulnerable to adverse influences. The physical, intellectual, social and emotional development of the child is set on a trajectory during this period that, though not irreversible, has a profound effect on subsequent health and well-being in childhood and throughout the life course. The factors affecting early childhood health and well-being are multifaceted and complex, and influenced by the interaction of the child with his or her carers and immediate environment, and through the broader community and culture in which they live. Much literature about early childhood development focuses exclusively on the quality of the relationship of the child and carer, usually the mother. This focus, however, is too narrow to understand the complexities of children's health and well-being. The main carers themselves are products of their own childhood environments, and have in turn been influenced by the social, economic and cultural conditions in which they live. A broad, holistic view of the macro- as well as micro-environment in which child rearing takes place is thereby central to a proper understanding of its complexity, and should be the basis of policy that is aimed at enhancing and not undermining early child health and well-being.

It is a special pleasure for me to write the Foreword for this book as Angela Underdown has succeeded in taking such a broad, holistic approach. From the first paragraph, the book is imbued with a commitment to the principles underpinning the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and informed by an ecological systems approach. The UNCRC is a vital document that establishes the indivisible rights of all children. It is concerned not simply with how parents and carers treat children but with the provisions made at state level for the welfare and protection of children and the promotion of their rights. Within this book the infant and young child are recognized as social actors and Chapter 3 refers to research about the crucial importance of the sensitive recognition of infant cues and signals, and the role that this plays in supporting the development of emotional regulation. Chapter 8 is a reminder that children with emotional and behavioural difficulties are expressing their distress. Although essentially an overview, the book provides enough detail and references for the interested reader to pursue the subject in more depth. The key individual and societal factors that influence child development and health, such as parenting and poverty, are . . .

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