Why ERH Matters

Early Relational Health Explained

Early Relational Health Is Vital

Early Relational Health is the state of emotional well-being that grows from emotional connection between babies and toddlers and their parents and caregivers when they experience strong, positive, and nurturing relationships with each other.

Early Relational Health is foundational to children’s healthy growth and development and their parents’ and caregivers’ sense of competence, connection, and overall well-being. These strong and enduring relationships also help to protect the family from the harmful effects of stress.

Essential for Health and Well-Being

The relationships children build in the first three years of life lay the foundation for healthy development, including the building of strong brains, which supports their well-being, learning, and behavior into adulthood. A positive emotional connection with their parents and caregivers creates the necessary footing for young children to optimally learn about and engage in the world around them and to cultivate relationships throughout their lifetime. 

Moreover, Early Relational Health benefits the parents’ and caregivers’ sense of competence, connection, and overall well-being. Adults also find joy and delight in moments of mutual connection. The two-way nature of early relationships affects two-generational health and well-being, both in the moment and for the long term. The enduring relationships that Early Relational Health yields also help protect the family from the harmful effects of stress. 

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Cultivated Through Everyday Moments

We must support parents and caregivers as they learn about the importance of sharing positive, everyday activities and routines with their babies and toddlers from birth. These activities and routines — like playing, talking, singing, reading together, and mealtimes — help build strong, positive, nurturing relationships between children and adults and provide opportunities for emotional connection to cultivate Early Relational Health. Supporting parents and caregivers with practical strategies to help their child express their emotions strengthens the caregiver-child relationship.

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Early Relational Health Unites Early Childhood

Early Relational Health brings together the deep vault of early childhood research, understanding, and lived experiences of families to form an aligned approach to supporting strong, positive, and nurturing relationships.

In this way, Early Relational Health connects the knowledge and guidance of early childhood concepts like healthy brain development, infant mental health, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences (HOPE), Strengthening Families and others to create a road map for building healthy, strong, and more connected families and communities.

To create the early childhood systems-level change we need, every voice, every expertise, and every community must play a role in building our networked and engaged movement across geographies, systems, sectors, and expertise to contribute to our strategies for success. 

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Why ERH Is Vital for Health and Well-Being

Welcome to Nurture Connection, where you can see and learn about the exciting and transformative progress across our nation aimed at advancing early relational health in partnership with families and communities.

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Early Relational Health Core Story Aligns Our Movement

Families Leading the Way to Advance Early Relational Health

Nurture Connection is guided by the lived experiences of families. Parents and caregivers are the experts for helping create healthier communities, one family at a time.