Parenting interventions to promote early child development in the first three years of life: A global systematic review and meta-analysis

By Joshua Jeong, Emily E. Franchett, Clariana V. Ramos de Oliveira, Karima Rehmani, Aisha K. Yousafzai

Published: May 10, 2021:



Parents are the primary caregivers of young children. Responsive parent–child relationships and parental support for learning during the earliest years of life are crucial for promoting early child development (ECD). We conducted a global systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of parenting interventions on ECD and parenting outcomes.

Extract from methods and findings

We searched MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Global Health Library for peer-reviewed, published articles from database inception until November 15, 2020. We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of parenting interventions delivered during the first 3 years of life that evaluated at least 1 ECD outcome. At least 2 reviewers independently screened, extracted data, and assessed study quality from eligible studies.

ECD outcomes included cognitive, language, motor, and socioemotional development, behavior problems, and attachment. Parenting outcomes included parenting knowledge, parenting practices, parent–child interactions, and parental depressive symptoms.

We calculated intervention effect sizes as the standardized mean difference (SMD) and estimated pooled effect sizes for each outcome separately using robust variance estimation meta-analytic approaches....


Parenting interventions for children during the first 3 years of life are effective for improving ECD outcomes and enhancing parenting outcomes across low-, middle-, and high-income countries. Increasing implementation of effective and high-quality parenting interventions is needed globally and at scale in order to support parents and enable young children to achieve their full developmental potential.


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