HOW EARLY EXPERIENCES GET INTO THE BODY: A Biodevelopmental Framework
Early Experiences Lay a Foundation for Healthy Development
Positive early experiences lay a foundation for healthy development, but adverse experiences can weaken that foundation. The environment of relationships in which a young child develops includes both family and nonfamily members and encompasses a continuum from nurturing, responsive caregiving to neglectful or abusive interactions. The physical, chemical, and built environments in which child development occurs require protection from neurotoxic exposures, such as lead, mercury, and organophosphate insecticides; safeguards against injury, such as the use of infant seat restraints in automobiles; and availability of safe neighborhoods, places to play, and spaces for supportive social interaction. Nutrition relates to the availability and affordability of healthy food; parent knowledge about age-appropriate meal planning for young children that assures adequate intake of essential nutrients; and effective interventions to address the growing problem of excess caloric consumption and early obesity.