The First Five Years

The First Five Years on WYPR

The First 5 Years Banner
The First Five Years
is a weekly radio program presented by Maryland Family Network and airing on WYPR 88.1 FM. The series is focused on the extraordinary developmental period from birth to age five. The First Five Years highlights the challenges and opportunities related to nurturing young children and helping them build a solid foundation for success in school and in life.


Infant portrait with funny shocked face expression

Three Essential Policies

According to UNICEF, there are three essential national policies that support families with young children — two years of free early childhood education for three and four year olds; paid breastfeeding breaks for new moms for the first six months; and adequate paid parental leave. The U.S. has none of these. Let’s change that.

Only 15 countries worldwide have three essential national policies that support families with young children (UNICEF)


Baby in a thinking pose having an idea

1,000 Days of Growth

During the first 1,000 days of a child’s life there is more growth and development than at any other point in life. What and whom a child is exposed to during the first 1,000 days influence a child for life

First 1,000 days crucial to child development: report (SBS)


Cute Baby Girl Wearing Bib Sitting In High Chair

Early Intervention Matters

You can’t control the genes your baby inherits. But you can determine how well your baby is loved and supported. Abuse and neglect in early childhood can profoundly affect the brain.

These Two Brains Belong to Three-Year-Olds, So Why is One So Much Bigger? (The Telegraph)


worried and thoughtful teenage girl with her mother at home

Let’s Talk Teens

At Maryland Family Network we say that the first five years of a child’s life are the most important.
That’s true but we want to talk to you a little bit about teenagers.

Teen Girls Relationship with Parents Can Affect Baby Bonding Later in Life (Herald Sun)
Maryland’s Network of Family Support Centers (Maryland Family Network)


A mother is holding her newborn baby in her arms. They child is sleeping against her shoulder.

Your Song

The language of music, especially when it’s a mother’s voice, is universal.

Mothers and Infants Connect Through Song (University of Miami)


Funny little power super hero child (girl) in a red raincoat. Superhero concept.

Let’s Make Believe

Do you know any four-year-olds who might actually be superheroes? What about a three-year-old who is a master chef? In the quickly developing mind of a young child these possibilities are as real as can be. A multitude of new research shows overwhelming benefits of a child’s make-believe play.

The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development (Scientific American)


Baby bookkeeper with suitcase of money

Economists Agree

Economists agree: investing in early childhood saves money.

The Heckman Equation
The Benefits and Costs of Investing in Early Childhood Education (The Washington Center for Equitable Growth)
Early Childhood Education – Ben S. Bernanke (The Federal Reserve System)


Baby doing Downward Facing Dog pose.

Remember childhood?

Remember childhood? Well, you may have a better memory as you age if you had more exercise as a child. Here’s why.

Childhood Exercise May Protect Against Memory Loss in Old Age (New Scientist)
The Jump Bunch (Maryland Family Network)


African american male pediatric doctor examining baby boy with female nurse

Doctor’s Orders

The American Academy of Pediatrics are calling on their members to advocate high-quality early childhood education. It’s a matter of good health.

Pediatricians Urged to Promote Early-Childhood Education (Education Week)
Quality Early Education and Child Care From Birth to Kindergarten (American Academy of Pediatrics)


Teacher reading a book with a class of preschool children

Quality Matters

When looking for child care, quality matters. Here are a few things to look for.

Choosing Child Care (Maryland Family Network)
Quality Matters in Early Childhood Learning Spaces (Model D)
How to Choose Quality Child Care (Zero to Three)


Beautiful little girl having fun outdoors and showing her dirty hands

Myth Busters

Here are few parenting myths we’ve debunked just for you.

Attention Parents: These “Bad” Childhood Habits are Actually Healthy (Reader’s Digest)


Parents Sitting On Sofa Cuddling Baby Daughter At Home

Modern Family

What defines a family? That depends on who you ask.

The U.S. ranks last in every measure when it comes to family policy, in 10 charts (Washington Post)
There is No Longer Any Such Thing as a Typical Family (Time)


Home visitor interacting with happy mother with two children

Save Home Visiting

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) is up for reauthorization in September. Without this crucial evidence-based program, many at-risk pregnant women and parents with young children will not get the services they need to be healthy and productive.

Home Visiting: A Common-Sense Investment (Center for American Progress)
The Bi-Partisan Case for Reauthorizing Home Visiting Program (The Hill )
Home Visiting Program—Maryland (HRSA )


Blonde toddler girl in child care setting

Child Care Transitions

Changing child care setting can be stressful on young children and negatively affect their social development.

Unstable Child Care Can Affect Children by Age 4 (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute)


Toddler boy in onesie looks straight at camera

To End Violence

There is a proven way to reduce violence, crime, and addiction – invest in children.

Early Learning Affects Health & Crime  (Heckman Equation)


Toddler boy and mother.

Place Matters

Having a strong start in life is a major factor in determining how long one lives.

Life Expectancy Can Vary By 20 Years Depending On Where You Live (NPR)
Study: Where You Live Can Affect How Long You Live (WJZ)


a hand drawn chalkboard shows multi-racial people holding hands around the world to show care for the earth, peace, and unity

U.S. Lags in ECE

The U.S. ranks 32nd out of 35 Western nations when it comes to investing in to early childhood education. We owe it to our children to do better.

U.S. Falls Behind Other Developed Countries in Early Childhood Education Enrollment (U.S. News and World Report)
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)


young mother and father with newborn

Confident and Compassionate

You want to raise confident and compassionate children. But what’s the best way to do that?

Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind (Washington Post)

A Revolution of Tenderness: A Summer Experience to Heal The Harshness and Embrace What Is Sacred (Lisa McCrohan)


colorful puzzle ribbon as symbol of autism awareness

Autism and Early Detection

Early detection can help make a world of difference for a child with autism spectrum disorder and his or her family.

LOCATE: Child Care Special Needs Service (marylandfamilynetwork.org)
Learn the Signs. Act Early. (CDC)
Early Intervention for Toddlers with Autism Highly Effective, Study Finds (Autism Speaks)
Symptoms (Autism Society)


cropped shot of a tired father lying on the floor next to his little baby

Depressed Daddies

Becoming a father is wonderful. But many dads, like mothers, can be more vulnerable to depression after the birth of a child. But you’re not alone and help is available. Listen now.

New dads risk depression too, study says (CNN)
Paternal Depression Symptoms During Pregnancy and After Childbirth Among Participants in the Growing Up in New Zealand Study (jamanetwork)
Dads Get Sad Too (Sage Journals)


 Young African-American girl is having fun outside

Outdoor Education

Little brains learn best when they are active. That’s why nature makes such a great classroom.

Laboratory for Learning: The Power of Outdoor Classrooms to Fuel Creativity (Outdoor Playthings)
Why Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature (Child Mind Institute)


boy eating a birthday cake

Self-Control

Self-restraint is hard. So why expect a toddler to have mastered the art of self-control?

Toddlers and Self-Control: A Survival Guide for Parents (PBS Parents)
Help Your Child Develop Self-Control (Zero to Three)


caucasian boy looking sadly through the bars outdoor

When Mom or Dad is Incarcerated

Despite being behind bars and often separated by many miles, young children and their parents still need each other when the adult is incarcerated.

Strategic Plan (Governor’s Office for Children)
The Right Investment? Corrections Spending in Baltimore City (Prison Policy Initiative)
Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration (Sesame Street)
Children and Families Affected by Incarceration (Governor’s Office for Children)


somber looking baby sitting in a stroller

UPK is Good for the Mind . . . and the Body

Pre-K helps a child learn and succeed socially and economically. New findings suggest that when young children have access to early care and education, their health outcomes are good, too!

Universal Pre-K Improves Kids’ Health in a Hidden, Powerful Way (Business Insider)

More First Five Years

Donate