Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Healthy social and emotional development.

Healthy, nurturing relationships with parents and caregivers lay the foundation for a baby’s social and emotional development, also known as infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH). Mental health issues can take root very early in life. Infants and young children can have diagnosable and treatable mental health disorders. Policies and programs that fall along a promotion, prevention, and treatment continuum can provide parents and young children with support to promote social and emotional development and prevent and treat mental health issues as early as possible. Investments that support the mental health of infants and young children will yield benefits later and prevent the more costly interventions that all too often result when mental health challenges go unaddressed.

Take Action

Tell Congress to #ThinkBabiesAndAct and support healthy emotional development right from the start!


Researchers estimate roughly 10-14% of children ages 0-5 experience an emotional or behavioral disturbance.


IECMH programs are associated with decreased rates of early childhood suspensions and expulsions.


Evidence-based child trauma treatments return $3.64 per dollar invested.

Legislation At-A-Glance

Funding IECMH Grants

The IECMH Promotion, Intervention, and Treatment grants expand capacity to address infant and early childhood mental health. Each year, Congress can increase funding for these grants through the appropriations process. Additionally, provisions from the Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion (“RISE”) from Trauma Act (S. 2086) would expand the IECMH workforce, increase resources to communities, and establish training institutes and centers of excellence for IECMH.

What it could mean for babies:

More babies and families would have access to the continuum of services—from promotion to prevention to treatment – preventing lifelong mental health challenges. A robust and well-trained IECMH workforce would be established, dedicated to healthy social and emotional development for infants, toddlers, and their families.

Advocacy Tools & Resources

State of Babies Yearbook: 2021: Use national and state-by-state data on the well-being of infants and toddlers to call on federal and state policymakers to improve outcomes for babies and families.

How to Talk about IEMCH: Use this infographic to help define infant and early childhood mental health and talk about social and emotional development.