This paper studies how parental absence and children’s gender affect early childhood investment using a new dataset from rural Thailand. We found that relative to boys, girls received more time but less material investment. Relative to children with at least one parent present, children with absent parents received significantly less material investment; however, time investment was not significantly different between the two groups. Based on an economic model of early childhood investment, these results suggest that relative to material investment, time investment is more important for girls than for boys, and for households with absent parents than for households with at least one parent present. The estimation of the elasticity of substitution between time and material investments suggests that both types of investments are surprisingly complementary.