It’s more complicated than you might think. Obviously, it starts at birth. Well, not exactly. We all know that there is a child being created for several months before we pediatricians get directly involved. So don’t forget about supporting the health, nutrition, and medical care of young women–even BEFORE they become pregnant. We can influence the next generation for the better before they even exist.
But our involvement really kicks in at birth — sometimes right down to the second in the delivery room. This newborn child, with a new edition of the most powerful brain on the planet, can do essentially nothing without adult care, nurture, and eventually guidance. So “early childhood education” is really parent (and grandparent) education — our stock-in-trade! And we can also do better educating and supporting the child-care workforce — those dedicated and underpaid educators who are now needed by most families. Remember: a single remark to a new parent can have a lasting impact.
And how long does this “early childhood” period extend? More about that next week!