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Research and Best Practices for Child Development

Taking care of young children can be challenging. But understanding how young children grow and develop, called early childhood development, is very helpful to parents and child care providers. Children develop in stages based on their age. When parents and providers understand these stages, they can help with a child’s brain, body, and social-emotional development. 

An internet search for child development will give you a lot of information. Family and friends often give advice.  But sometimes it is hard to tell what information is right. It is a good idea to also get research-based information from child development experts


Here are some websites recommended by the California Department of Education. 

Resources for families and child care providers

All About Young Children:

This website has information on supporting children at different ages and stages of development. There is information on how children learn about language, feelings, relationships, and numbers, and how they become skillful at moving their bodies.

  • Free videos and articles. 
  • Languages available: English, Spanish, Hmong, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog and Vietnamese. 

Parenting Counts 

This website has information raising and caring for socially and emotionally healthy children.  There are resources on: physical development; social-emotional development; cognitive development and learning; and language development and communication. There is also a timeline of child development stages.

  • Free videos, articles, research reports, parent handouts. 
  • Languages available: English and Spanish.

Talaris Institute 

This website has information on early childhood development research. There is research on: physical development; social-emotional development; cognitive development and learning; and language development and communication. There is also an interactive timeline of the stages of child development.

  • Free articles, reports. 
  • Languages available: English.

Brain Rules for Baby 

Brain Rules for Baby is a book about how a baby’s brain develops. It explains what scientists know about brain development and how parents can use this information to care for their young children.  

  • Free quizzes, videos, parenting tips and more.
  • Languages available: English.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

This website has information on early childhood development and what parents and child care providers can do when they are concerned about a child’s development. The website also has the Milestone Tracker, a free app, that tracks children’s development from age two months to five years.  

  • Free videos, articles, tips, and on-line training. 
  • Languages available: Most resources are available in English and Spanish. Other resources are available Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Korean, simplified Chinese, Somali, and Vietnamese.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) 

NAEYC promotes high-quality early learning for children birth through eight years old. Families can find information about child development, reading, writing, math and more. Child care providers can find information on providing high quality child care services and how to participate in the NAEYC accreditation program.

  • Free articles, blogs and training. 
  • Families and child care providers can join NAEYC for additional resources.
  • Languages available: English.

Zero to Three 

Zero to Three works to ensure that all babies and toddlers (birth to three years) have a strong start in life. Families can find information on child development, early learning, parenting, policy, and advocacy.  Child care providers can find resources on how to provide quality child care for infants and toddlers.

  • Free articles, reports, videos, podcasts, trainings. 
  • Families and child care provider can join Zero to Three for additional resources.
  • Languages available: Most resources are in English; some resources are available in Spanish.

The American Academy of Pediatrics 

This website has information for families on choosing child care. There are also resources for parents and child care providers on: practices to keep children healthy such as managing infectious diseases and giving children medication; keeping children safe and avoiding injuries; and ensuring that babies are sleeping in a safe environment.

  • Free articles, videos, online and in-person training, webinars.
  • Language available: English.

The California Infant/Toddler Learning & Development Foundations

The Foundations describe how infants and toddlers make progress in social-emotional, language, cognitive, and perceptual and motor development. 

  • Free Foundations document. 
  • Purchase the DVDs to get the information visually and see examples of young children’s behavior. 
  • Languages available: English, Spanish.

The California Preschool Learning Foundations 

The Foundations describe all the knowledge and skills that children usually attain at ages four and five years old when they have the interactions, instruction, and environments that promote early learning and development. 

  • Purchase the DVDs to get the information visually and see examples of young children’s behavior. 
  • Languages available: English, Chinese, simplified Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Pilipino (Tagalog), Spanish, and Vietnamese. 

Choose My Plate

This website has resources on healthy eating for children two to five years old. It has a growth chart to monitor a child’s development, information on food groups, and tips for picky eaters. There is also information for older children (6 to 11 years old) and their parents on cooking healthy meals.   

  • Free articles, videos, tool kits, quizzes. 
  • Languages available: English, Arabic, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Filipino-Tagalog, French, German, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Pashto, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Urdu, and Vietnamese.


Resources for child care providers

California Infant/Toddler Curriculum Framework 

The Framework helps child care provider plan activities and create an environment that helps infants and toddlers grow and develop. It offers high-quality curriculum practices that help infants and toddlers achieve the knowledge and skills described in the California Infant/Toddler Learning & Development Foundations. <LINK TO PITF>. 

  • Free Framework Report.
  • Languages available: English.

California Preschool Curriculum Frameworks 

The Frameworks helps child care providers enrich learning and development opportunities for children three to five years old. It include ideas for: teaching children through play; child-directed and teacher-guided activities; environments, interactions, routines, and materials that help children learn; and creating a curriculum based on  a child’s individual needs. It is based on the California Preschool Learning Foundations.

  • Free Framework Report.
  • Languages available: English.

California Early Childhood On-line 

This website offer a single place for resources offered by the California Department of Education. It focuses on resources that help child care providers offer developmentally appropriate experiences for children in their care. There are complete training modules on multiple topics.

  • Resources available after you register on the site.
  • Articles, reports, training modules. 
  • Languages available: English and Spanish.

The Program for Infant Toddler Caregivers (PITC) 

PITC works to ensure that infants get a safe, healthy, emotionally secure and intellectually rich start in life. The website offers resources for child care managers and infant/toddler teachers to become sensitive to what infants need, connect with their family and culture, and develop responsive, relationship-based care.  There is also information about Partners for Quality, an on-site training, mentoring and coaching program. 

  • Free videos, articles, webinars.
  • Access to on-line and in-person training.
  • Languages available: English and Spanish.

Resources for Providers on the Community Care Licensing website

Community Care Licensing licenses and monitors child care providers in California to ensure the health and safety of the children in their care.  The website offers information on many topics including the licensing process, health and safety, and mandated reporter training. It also has links to many relevant websites.

  • Free articles, videos and training information. 
  • Language available: English.

Family Partnership and Culture

This report from the California Department of Education helps child care providers work with children and families from diverse cultural backgrounds. It helps providers include families’ values and beliefs in their teaching. It also helps providers approach cultural diversity with an open mind.

  • Free Report.
  • Languages available: English.

The National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Fund 

The Fund works to strengthen and promote the well-being of children, families and communities.

The website has information on the Strengthening Families approach that prevents child abuse and neglect. It  focuses on the well-being of all families and helping families identify and build on their own strengths, called protective factors

  • Free on-line trainings. 
  • Access to in-person trainings.
  • Languages available: English.

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