Ten FREE Online Courses for Baby, Infant & Child Development

I am a pretty keen home-student. I enjoy studying and learning, but prefer to do it at my own pace. For the last two years, including through maternity leave, I studied a work qualification that I’d been putting off for ages and ages. Finally I’ve completed it (got a distinction too!) and now I’m finding those few hours of “study” that I set aside each week are empty. Rather than commit to something for work, I wanted to work on personal development a little. This led me to doing a vast amount of research about child development courses and I didn’t want to spend much (or any!) money.

I love learning about the way children’s minds work, and how to help my son learn and grow. These five interesting and educational courses I’ve collated were completely FREE as of November 2018, yet still from recognized and reputable sources – giving you accurate information and a qualification or experience that will be genuinely useful.

These free child development courses that focus on young children, babies and infants will be useful to

  • People with any interest in baby, infant and child development
  • People with an interest in developmental psychology
  • Parents, Grandparents or Relatives trying to understand the young children in their life better
  • Expectant mums & dads wanting to prepare for the future
  • People looking to work with children in the future
  • People looking to get into social work or family care
  • People looking to foster or adopt

Most of these are with the Open University, but I have researched and included a few from other accredited Universities that offer online / distance learning and free courses. These are all available to those in the UK and globally.

Introduction to Child Psychology with The Open University

“Childhood is a time of rapid growth and development, and studying these changes is endlessly stimulating. In this free course, Introduction to child psychology, you will be introduced to the discipline of child psychology and some of the key questions that guide the understanding of childhood. These questions include ‘What influences children’s development?’ and ‘How do psychologists study the physical and cognitive changes that occur during childhood?’ As you work through this material, you will also gain a deeper understanding concerning how psychologists work with young children across a range of applied settings through activities and audio-visual materials.”

Price: FREE (including free Statement of Participation Certificate)
Level: Beginner
Study Time: 8 hours

Attachment in the Early Years with The Open University

“This free course, Attachment in the early years, covers theory and research in the area of attachment in early childhood. In the 1950s, John Bowlby was the first person to develop a theory about the significance of early attachments between caregivers and very young children. His work has stimulated a massive and very productive field of research with important implications for childcare. This OpenLearn course describes Bowlby’s theory and the work that has built on it, illustrated with video recordings of the assessment of attachment in a laboratory setting and a talk by an eminent attachment researcher.”

Price: FREE (including free Statement of Participation Certificate)
Level: Intermediate
Study Time: 6 hours

Understanding Children: Babies Being Heard with The Open University

“In this free course, Understanding children: Babies being heard, you will find out some of the things that very young babies can do. You will also discover how babies can contribute to family life and relationships from birth. You will look at what they need from other adults and children, and what they can learn.”

Price: FREE (including free Statement of Participation Certificate)
Level: Beginner
Study Time: 5 hours

Children’s Perspectives on Play with The Open University

“In this free course, Children’s perspectives on play, you are asked to put yourself in the place of young children and to think about their view of play and their reasons for playing. When children have personal freedom to choose and make decisions about what and who they want to play with, as well as where they want to play, they are highly self-motivated and active in their engagements with everything around them. In this course you will think about how you listen to children’s perspectives, why it is important and also consider the choices children make about where they play and why.”

Price: FREE (including free Statement of Participation Certificate)
Level: Beginner
Study Time: 5 hours

Introduction to Development Psychology with The University of Queensland

“This psychology course will examine how babies and young children develop the ability to function in our world, including their attachment to their caregivers, and their ability to communicate and think about the world. We will also cover specific changes during adolescence and later life. You should take this course if you are curious to understand what we know about infants’ abilities, how we know it, and about the important milestones that we all pass through as we develop.”

Price: FREE ($99 for verified certificate)
Level: Beginner
Study Time: 1-2 hours per week for 8 weeks (8 – 16 hours total)

The Science of Parenting with University College San Diego

“This psychology course will examine how babies and young children develop the ability to function in our world, including their attachment to their caregivers, and their ability to communicate and think about the world. We will also cover specific changes during adolescence and later life. You should take this course if you are curious to understand what we know about infants’ abilities, how we know it, and about the important milestones that we all pass through as we develop.”

Price: FREE ($49 for verified certificate)
Level: Beginner
Study Time: 3-5 hours per week for 5 weeks (15 – 20 hours total)

The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development with SDG Academy

“What does a successful early childhood care program look like? How has a child’s brain developed at the age of 3? How does nutrition impact the future well-being of a child into adulthood? Learn the answers to these questions and more in “The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development”. With leading experts in the field – hailing from Harvard University, New York University and UNICEF, among other institutions – we’ll explore how neuroscience, sociology, anthropology and other studies have influenced our understanding of early childhood development.”

Price: FREE ($49 for verified certificate)
Level: Intermediate
Study Time: 2-4 hours per week for 8 weeks (16 – 32 hours total)

Childhood in the Digital Age with The Open University

“The amount of technology available to children today is greater than in any previous generation, and it is more specifically designed to capture their imaginations. There is heated debate as to how the digital influx is shaping children’s development and experience. Are social media changing the way that children form relationships? How is technology changing the way that children think, and how will it shape the classroom of the future? This exciting new free course pulls together the latest evidence from experts in the field to explore these and other questions.”

Price: FREE (including free Statement of Participation Certificate)
Level: Beginner
Study Time: 12 hours

Exploring Children’s Learning with The Open University

“How does a child’s mind and behaviour change as they develop over time? In this free course, Exploring children’s learning, four theories of child development are explored. Each theory views child development from a different perspective and all have underpinned psychological research for many years, and continue to do so today. By the end of this course you will have a good understanding of each of the theories and will probably have begun to challenge your own assumptions about how your own children, or children you know, have developed over time.”

Price: FREE (including free Statement of Participation Certificate)
Level: Intermediate
Study Time: 20 hours

Parents and Toddlers: Teaching and Learning at Home with The Open University

“How do young children learn? This free course, Parents and toddlers: Teaching and learning at home, looks at the way toddlers interact with their carers in the home environment. You will learn how adults use different methods of teaching to encourage a small child to expand their boundaries and develop new ways of thinking.”

Price: FREE (including free Statement of Participation Certificate)
Level: Advanced
Study Time: 20 hours

10 completely free child development courses you can complete online - work on your education, earn qualifications, learn about babies, infants, education and child development.

I’ve signed up to the first two with the Open University right now and I’ll be reviewing those as I complete them and letting you know what I think, before moving on to the Parents and Toddlers: Teaching and Learning at Home course. As that one is advanced and 20 hours of study, I’ve decided to do a few introductory courses first, having never studied childcare at home before. Have you completed any free courses online that you would recommend to others? Do you think that it’s good to get extra qualifications in your spare time? Do you think you’d benefit from learning more about child development? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “Ten FREE Online Courses for Baby, Infant & Child Development

    • Christy - WelshMum says:

      Exactly Miranda – even if you decide not to complete the course you should still find whatever you do a little bit interesting and different. There’s absolutely no pressure or obligation if you haven’t put money into it.

  1. Barb says:

    I also did a work course on my maternity leave and thought it was a good use of time. A little bit too much work with twins though!! These courses look great, I will bookmark this for when they go to nursery.

  2. Sandie/Nana says:

    I watch my two grand daughters full time while mom & dad work. This usually consists of 50 hours a week. The 1st one is 3 & 9 mo old the second is 6 mo old. I am excited about taking these courses to expand my knowledge in childhood development. Things have changed since I raised my 36 year old daughter and 39 year old son! You can never learn enough about raising healthy well adjusted children.

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