A to Z’s of Early Childhood
The science of child development and learning
N is for Newborns
Engaging in Brain-Building Interactions
A newborn’s or infant’s brain develops faster than at any other time in a child’s life. Research shows that during this early period, back-and-forth interactions with caregivers, also known as “serve and return” interactions1, strengthen neural connections in the brain. These connections are important for early learning and they establish pathways for future learning2. Relationships with nurturing and responsive caregivers are foundational for early learning and beyond2.
Five Strategies for Back-and-Forth Interactions
Practice these five strategies to participate in back-and-forth interactions with infants every day.
What We Are Doing
The Anita Zucker Center and our collaborators are helping families and practitioners learn how to engage in back-and-forth interactions during everyday routines using the 3R’s of Early Learning: Relationships, Repetition, Routines.
Center Members Collaborate with FSU and the Early Steps State Office on Professional Development for Providers
Read about how a statewide initiative to support early intervention providers to build caregivers’ capacity to support their children’s social-emotional development, including taking part in back and forth interactions with infants and toddlers during everyday routines and activities.
NewboRN Home Visit Program
The Alachua County NewboRN Home Visit Program is available to all mothers of newborns in Alachua County. If the mother volunteers to be part of the program, a nurse visits the home to check on mother and baby and to provide a wide variety of supports, resources, and information, including how to do back and forth interactions.
5 Steps for Brain-Building Serve and Return
This resource, by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, details five steps for serve-and-return interactions with an overview video and downloadable PDFs in English and Spanish.
InBrief: The Science of Early Childhood Development
This brief from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child is part of a series that summarizes the Center’s essential scientific findings on human brain development.
Baby Games Calendar
Enter the baby’s date of birth on this website to find age-appropriate activities, milestones, and games or get them by email.
“My 1st Year” and “Discovering Feelings” Books
Download these PDF booklets to help better understand a baby’s development, recognize important milestones, and record experiences.
Learning, Play, and Your Newborn
This Nemours Foundation resource describes what newborns are learning and how caregivers can support them. Also available in Spanish.
How to Play with Babies
This article from Zero to Three offers fun ways to interact with newborns and describes common signals that indicate when they want to stop the interaction.
This national non-profit provides free support to first-time moms with regular nurse visits from pregnancy through the child’s second birthday to keep mom and baby healthy and safe.
1 Center on the Developing Child. (2007). The science of early childhood development (InBrief). https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/inbrief-science-of-ecd/
2 Center on the Developing Child. (2020). Serve and return. https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/serve-and-return/
Dedicated to supporting the well-being of young children and their families, the Anita Zucker Center has engaged with its partners to launch an ambitious initiative designed to provide accessible and practical information about child development and learning to support parents, caregivers, professionals and policymakers.
The A to Z’s of Early Childhood is a trusted source that offers robust, quality and up-to-date information and resources informed by the science of early childhood development and learning – from short videos and quick tips to academic research and detailed policy briefs.