Two million infants die each year from infectious diseases before they reach 12 mo; many of these diseases are vaccine preventable in older populations. Pattern recognition receptors represent the critical front-line defense against pathogens. Evidence suggests that the innate immune system does not fully develop until puberty, contributing to impaired response to infection and impaired vaccine responses in neonates, infants, and children. The activity of the pattern recognition receptor family of cytosolic nucleic acid (CNA) sensors in this pediatric population has not been reported. We show that in direct contrast to weak TLR-induced type I IFN in human cord blood mononuclear cells, cord blood mononuclear cells are capable of initiating a potent response to CNA, inducing both antiviral type I IFN and, unexpectedly, proinflammatory TNF-α. A deficiency in Rab11-GTPase endosome formation and consequent lack of IRF3 activation in neonatal monocytes is at least in part responsible for the marked disparity in TLR-induced IFN production between neonatal and adult monocytes. CNA receptors do not rely on endosome formation, and therefore, these responses remain intact in neonates. Heightened neonatal responses to CNA challenge are maintained in children up to 2 y of age and, in marked contrast to TLR4/9 agonists, result in IL-12p70 and IFN-γ generation. CNA sensors induce robust antiviral and proinflammatory pathways in neonates and children and possess great potential for use as immunostimulants or vaccine adjuvants for targeted neonatal and pediatric populations to promote cell-mediated immunity against invasive infectious disease.