This paper describes a scoping review of 42 studies of neighborhood effects on developmental health for children ages 0–6, published between 2009 and 2014. It focuses on three themes: (1) theoretical mechanisms that drive early childhood development, i.e. how neighborhoods matter for early childhood development; (2) dependence of such mechanisms on place-based characteristics i.e. where neighborhood effects occur; (3) dependence of such mechanisms on child characteristics, i.e. for whom is development most affected. Given that ecological systems theories postulate diverse mechanisms via which neighborhood characteristics affect early child development, we specifically examine evidence on mediation and/or moderation effects. We conclude by discussing future challenges, and proposing recommendations for analyses that utilize ecological longitudinal population-based databases.