Prenatal and postnatal adverse exposures can cause complex learning, behavior, and mental health problems in children. Situations such as prenatal exposure to alcohol or drugs, or early life abuse or neglect may happen together, meaning they can have even bigger effects on learning and behaviour. However, it can be difficult to characterize the type and timing of these exposures in a useful way to help understand how they might affect children. This article proposes a framework to characterize important prenatal and postnatal exposures. We tested this framework in 77 children with prenatal alcohol exposure. Nearly all children had multiple prenatal exposures and two-thirds of children had both prenatal and postnatal exposures. This framework provides a more complete picture of a child’s adverse experiences and highlights the importance of considering both prenatal and postnatal exposures in clinical assessment, intervention, and research.