Conceptualization of the Field of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Cory Shulman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Infant and early childhood mental health is an emerging interdisciplinary field which has seen rapid growth over the last 30 years. This introductory chapter presents an overview and lays out the themes on which the remaining chapters of the book elaborate. It begins with a history of the field and then presents several definitions of infant and early childhood mental health, followed by a survey of theoretical models which attempt to conceptualize infant and early childhood mental health. Current empirical research in child development, based on the assumption that infants develop within a family context, posits that development is best understood in terms of the relationship between infants and the adults around them and infants’ temperament (i.e., their inborn characteristics). Consolidating a sense of self and making sense of the world results from transactions between the developing infant and a responsive environment.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationChildren's Well-Being
Subtitle of host publicationIndicators and Research
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameChildren's Well-Being: Indicators and Research
ISSN (Print)1879-5196
ISSN (Electronic)1879-520X

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016.


  • Attachment
  • Implications of early development on behavior
  • Infant and early childhood mental health
  • Interpersonal context
  • Transactional model of development


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