0-3 years: Helping your baby and toddler to be happy

Parents are very important!  You are the centre of your child's life in the early months and years.  Almost everything they learn comes from their relationship with you.  Your love and care gives them security and confidence.  They learn from you about feelings and emotions.  You show them how to love, trust and live with other people.  Try to build a close and loving relationship from the start - and help them grow up strong, independent and happy.


Feeling Safe:  Young children feel safe when they know what to expect.  Find routines which work for you and your baby and stick to them.  Give them time and attention.  don't leave them alone too much - keep them near you when you are doing chores.

Talk, Talk, Talk: From the moment they are born, your baby learns from you and how you treat them.  Talk to them as much as you can and give them lots of cuddles and affection.  When you feed them or change nappies, chat about what you are doing.  Notice your baby's noises and funny faces - smile and talk back to them.

Understanding Emotions: You can get to know your child's moods, needs and worries and help them understand themselves.  Talk to them about their feelings.  Don't ignore them - tell them it's alright to feel sad, angry or frightened sometimes.

New Child In The Family

Your toddler needs love and reassurance when a new baby comes along.  Don't expect them to 'grow up' suddenly.  They still need you just as much.

Give them time to get used to the idea.  tell them if you will be away for the birth.

Try to make any big changes (e.g potty training or changing where they sleep) before the birth, not at the same time.

Ask people to help with the baby, so you can spend time with your older child.

Change, Loss and Fear

Many things affect young children's happiness and security, such as:

  • Changes in the family
  • Stress in the family
  • Moving House
  • Starting or moving school
  • Friends or friends going away

When changes or problems come up:

  • Give them extra love and reassurance
  • Notice signs of unhapiness - they can't always tell you how they feel
  • Be understanding of difficult behaviour

Leaving Your Child

Babies get frightened when you leave them - they need time to learn that you will come back.  stay close as they get used to new people and places.  When you leave them somewhere, take time to reassure them.  Don't rush away - let them know when you go.

Being 'Clingy'

Around 8 months old your child may get more unhappy about separation from you - even if they were alright before.  Don't worry - it's a normal part of growing up - and it can also happen at times of change or upset.


  • You will have more to give your child if you look after your own health and well-being.
  • Take time for yourself when you can.  Stay in touch with people you care about and do things you enjoy.
  • Ask family or friends for practical help if you are getting exhausted.
  • Get help for your own problems - don't take them out on your child.


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