Caring for Infants Toddlers by jennyyingdi

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									                       Caring for Infants & Toddlers
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Handout #46                   Healthy Children, Strong Families, Caring Communities



                             All children need a child care setting       child’s development. The foundation
                             where they can thrive with provid-           begins in infancy for learning language
                             ers who understand how to promote            and communication skills, developing
                             healthy growth and development.              feelings of self-worth, and acquiring the
                             The best situation for a baby’s overall      motivation to learn and get along with
                             development is one in which he has a         others. Special scanning equipment
                             nurturing, supportive environment with       has allowed researchers to see how the
                             caring and attentive adults. Children        brain actually grows and develops. We
                             thrive when their social, emotional and      know an infant is born with 100 billion
                             physical needs are met by warm and           nerve cells (neurons) that form connec-
                             actively loving people who hold them,        tions (synapses) with other neurons
                             talk to them, sing, read and allow them      in order to develop systems for sight,
                             to safely explore.                           hearing, movement and expressing
                                                                          emotion. All of these neurons are pres-
                             Temperaments:
                                                                          ent at birth but only those connections
    This handout             Infants each are unique, just as adults
                                                                          that are frequently used will become
    discusses:               are. We all have different tempera-
                                                                          strengthened and continue to form a
                             ments. This is the way we see and
                                                                          unique individual who will love to learn.
                             react to the world around us. One
  • Different activities     person may be outgoing while another         Early care specialists have discovered
    that support healthy     is cautious and slow to warm up. All         certain things that parents and provid-
    development              children have areas of strength and          ers can do with their babies that actu-
                             areas where they need more support.          ally cause the baby’s brain to form the
  • Brain development        It is important for providers to adapt       connections it needs to develop to its
                             their approach with each child and to        full potential.
  • Resources that help      be responsive to meet children’s needs.      Activities that support brain develop-
    you support healthy      Recognizing a child’s temperament will       ment in infants and toddlers include:
    development              help you understand the child and will
                             help you respond in ways that support            l	Affection
                             his healthy development. Find out what           l	Touch
                             he likes and how much he wants to be             l	Communication, reading
                             cuddled, touched and engaged. Infants              and music
                             can’t use words to communicate their             l	Stimulating experiences and
                             moods, preferences or needs, but they              safe exploration
                             send signals to the adults who care
                             for them. The sounds they make, their        Affection:
                             facial expressions and the way they          Unconditional love creates strong self
                             make or avoid eye contact are all clues      esteem and increased development of
                             to what they want and need. By pay-          brain circuitry and in turn, self esteem
                             ing close attention to an infant’s need      gives a child the courage he needs
                             for stimulation, as well as quiet time,      to interact with and learn from the
                             and by modifying our reactions, secure       world around him. When parents or
                             attachments will form and the infant will    providers respond with food or warmth
                             learn to self-soothe and calm himself.       or comfort, the baby tends to be calmed.
Child Action, Inc.                                                        By responding to a newborn’s needs,
9961 Horn Road               Brain development:
                                                                          the brain begins to create the network
Sacramento, CA 95827         The first three years of life are a period
916/369-0191                                                              of brain cells that help the baby learn
                             of intense growth in all areas of a
www.childaction.org
    Page 2
             Caring for Infants and Toddlers



     to soothe himself. Babies whose needs are met            For example, “I’m going to change your diaper now.
     have the best chance at success in later life. After     Let’s put you on the table and get you cleaned up.”
     all, newborns have just come from a warm, snug           The high pitch and exaggerated tones of “baby talk”
     place where they could hear and feel the rhythmic        help babies learn the basic sounds of language.
     beating of their mother’s heart, and where they          When we copy baby’s sounds, facial expressions
     were never hungry or cold. Before birth, everything      and body movements, we build a bridge for two-way
     was regulated. After birth when the baby is hungry,      communication.
     uncomfortable or upset in his new environment, the
                                                                                     Reading
     brain’s stress-response systems turn on and release
     stress hormones. The baby expresses his distress         Talking and reading to infants and young children
     by crying.                                               who don’t seem to understand your words yet
                                                              may not seem important, but these conversations
     Touch:                                                   stimulate the parts of a child’s brain responsible for
     Holding, rocking and cuddling a child communicates       speech and language development. When reading
     love and acceptance better than anything else.           to your baby let him turn the pages in whatever order
     Touch helps infants gain a sense of calmness             he wants and however fast he wants. Buy sturdy
     and encourages brain development. Researchers            board books or cloth books so that you don’t need
     have discovered that premature infants who were          to restrict the baby from putting them in his mouth.
     massaged grew faster, cried less and were released       Hearing a story over and over again helps a child
     from the hospital earlier than those who weren’t.        learn about word sounds, meaning and rhythms.
     From this finding we understand that most babies         Learning happens with repetition and helps a child
     will benefit from gentle touching. Holding and           feel safe and secure.
     stroking an infant stimulates the brain to release                               Music
     important hormones necessary for growth.
                                                              Music supports many developing skills. It can build
                                                              relationships, provide comfort, foster language
     Communication, Reading and Music:                        development, launch creativity, develop fine and
     The first three years of exploring and playing
                                                              large muscles and build coordination. Captivated
     with books, singing nursery rhymes, listening
                                                              by the pattern of your voice, they may watch you
     to stories, recognizing words and scribbling are
                                                              intently, try to imitate your sounds, or wave and kick
     truly the building blocks for language and literacy
                                                              with delight. Young toddlers can participate in a song
     development. Babies love the sound of your voice
                                                              by clapping, bouncing or swaying with your help.
     and prefer speech to other sounds. It is in hearing
                                                              They may try to dance or sing, or enjoy exploring
     your words repeatedly in early conversations that a
                                                              the sounds of musical toys. Older toddlers will love
     child’s language capacity grows. Engaging infants
                                                              musical games and songs with stories and motions.
     and toddlers in communication begins to provide
                                                              They may even want to act out songs with dances,
.    a solid basis for later success in learning. Hearing
                                                              directed movement (hokey pokey) and props.
     your familiar voice also reassures an infant of your
     closeness and love.                                      Exploration:
                                                              Natural loving, responsive care-giving seems
                           Communication
                                                              to provide babies with the ideal environment for
     Each day offers windows of learning for children.        encouraging their own exploration, which is always
     When dressing a child, remember to name articles         the best environment for learning. If a child is curious
     of clothing and colors. While preparing a meal, talk     about colors and paints, animals or big trucks, you’ll
     about what you’re doing and allow toddlers to play       be helping his brain develop by finding ways to
     with plastic dishes or Tupperware containers and         explore what he most wants to learn about. Let the
     lids. Whenever possible, name things that are the        baby safely explore as much as possible. Gently
     same, different, bigger, smaller, hot or cold. When      expose the baby to different textures, temperatures,
     driving in the car or going for a walk, point out and    scents and sounds.
     talk about birds, trees, familiar stores, cars, trucks
     and signs. The more adults talk with babies and
     toddlers, the sooner most will learn to talk. They
     need to hear clear, simple repetitive language about
     what is going on now and what will happen next.
                                                                                                                                 Page 3
                                                                                              Caring for Infants and Toddlers



Suggestions for Activities                                             Pay attention to whether baby looks and reaches for
                                                                       more or turns away to take a break.
The Environment – During the early years, when
babies’ brains develop so quickly, they need to have                   The Caregiver’s Role – The caregiver is often the
interesting things to watch, copy, reach for, touch,                   most interesting object in any baby’s environment.
taste, listen to and smell in a relaxed, unhurried                     Ideally, in playing with babies, adults take the lead
way. All these sensations and movements cause                          about half the time and follow and imitate what
more brain cells to grow and connect with one                          babies do the rest of the time. Take turns making
another, enabling complex reasoning down the line.                     faces and sounds. Help babies feel successful by
On the other hand, babies can also get too much                        offering activities that are interesting but not too hard.
stimulation, which can make them fussy because                         Remember that some babies get tired, frustrated or
they are tired and overwhelmed. The goal is to find a                  discouraged more quickly than others. Follow the
balance of stimulation and rest for each baby.                         baby’s pace.


                     Baby-friendly Environment                                                 Activities
                 • A quiet corner for the sensitive                  • Nursery rhymes – Humpty Dumpty, etc.
                   child who needs a break from the                  • Singing and music games – The Wheels On the
                   general activity                                    Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Where is Thumbkin? (Loud
                 • A separate sleeping area                            background music or noise may distract babies
                   for those who need a quiet place                    from hearing and learning speech.)
All Ages
                   to sleep                                          • Learning games – Pat-a-Cake, This Little Piggy
                 • Some, but not too many, interest-                 • Physical contact – rocking, holding, bouncing on
                   ing things to explore                               knees, stroking, snuggling and caressing
                 • Comfortable places for caregiver                  • Baby massage and picture books
                   and baby to relax together
                 • Careful childproofing
                 • A safe place to sit and watch,                    • Let babies hold and manipulate toys, such as
Under 6            listen and touch interesting things                 kitchen spatulas, wooden spoons, plastic dishes,
Months                                                                 crumpled paper, board books, etc.
                 • Outdoor time for observing
                                                                     • Babies need “tummy time” while awake to build
                                                                       strong arms and necks
                 • Safe places for babies to roll                    • Let infants look at themselves in a mirror
Over 6             around in
                                                                     • Peek-a-boo, finger plays and nursery rhymes
Months
                                                                     • Look at picture books together, point to and
                                                                       name pictures
                 • Space to crawl                                    • Let baby play with objects which fit one inside
                 • Support (e.g. edge of a sofa)                       the other, like a set of plastic bowls
 Once              while learning to walk                            • Let baby roll and chase balls
Crawling         • Things to climb on, such as large                 • Provide buckets and bowls to fill and dump with
                   pillows or the bottom two steps of                  sand or water
                   carpeted stairs

                 • A safe play structure, infant swings              • Let baby pull toys (a box with a string) or push
                   or other means to practice                          toys (a toy stroller with stuffed animals or a doll)
 Once              physical skills
Walking                                                              • Let babies play in safe outdoor play space with a
                 • Small table/chairs for eating and
                                                                       sand box and infant swings
                   drawing

* The above section is reprinted thanks to BANANAS. Inc., Oakland, CA from the BANANAS Choosing Child Care handout entitled What Babies
need in Child Care Birth to One Year and What Toddlers Need in Child Care Ages 1-2 Years.
    Page 4
             Caring for Infants and Toddlers



    Suggestions for Activities                                               How to Play – Toddlers learn from active involvement
    The Environment – Toddlers need outdoor and                              with any material. But they learn much more when
    indoor space to play actively. Some need a quiet                         adults often talk and play with them, rather than just
    place, somewhat away from the action, where they                         watch them play. Adults can gradually build the attention
    can relax and watch. Many sleep more easily when                         span of older toddlers (age 2 or 2 1/2) by pointing out
    in a separate, quiet space, so provide a calm place to                   new and interesting things to do with the same object.
    sleep. The goal is a balance between an environment                      Adults can alternate between showing new possibilities
    that is interesting, but not overwhelming. (Some                         (“If you turn the box over, you’ll see how it opens”)
    children get more easily overwhelmed than others by                      and praising youngsters for doing something new
    too much color or sound.) Pictures of toddlers and                       (“You opened the box!”). Caregivers can demonstrate
    their families help youngsters remember that their                       imaginative play, such as rocking a baby doll to sleep
    parents will indeed return.                                              or saying “varoom varoom” while moving a car.


             Skills                                                              Activities

                                • Encourage children to talk, sing, imitate sounds of animals, birds and trucks.
                                • Discuss books with easy-to-turn pages. Toddlers learn more when they can point,
      Language                    name pictures and answer questions, such as “Where is the pony?” (Finishing the
                                  book is less important than stimulating discussion)
                                • Encourage conversations with finger plays, felt boards and puppets
                                • Take walks around the block and talk about everything you see

                                • Provide large crayons, washable markers, tempera paint – toddlers love to see
                                  the designs that appear after their hands dance accross the paper
                                • Encourage water play with plastic cups, ladles, funnels, sieves, pumps and
                                  sponges in a sink or bucket
     Small Muscle               • Let toddlers play in sand with toys for digging, pouring, sifting and building
                                • Provide playdough for mashing and rolling
                                • Provide a hammer and “peg bench,” building blocks and little cars that are easy
                                  to hold, wind-up toys for manipulation, wooden trains and tracks

                                • Let toddlers dance, play drums, chase or play hide-and-seek or “wrestle”
                                  with a gentle adult
                                • Provide toys to pull (a string tied to a box), to push and ride on (without pedals)
     Large Muscle               • Provide safe places to climb - a sofa, small slide or climbing structure
                                • Provide things to crawl through, such as a blanket over a low table
                                • Take children on a walk around the block or to a nearby toddler playground or library

    * The above section is reprinted thanks to BANANAS. Inc., Oakland, CA from the BANANAS Choosing Child Care handout entitled What Babies
    need in Child Care Birth to One Year and What Toddlers Need in Child Care Ages 1-2 Years.



          Resources available in the                                           • 2’s Sensory Play Experiences,
          Child Action, Inc. Lending Library:                                    Liz and Dick Wilmes
           • Choosing Quality Inclusive Care, handout 46                       • The Creative Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers,
           • Touchpoints, The Essential Reference,                               Amy Laura Dombro, Laura J. Colker,
             T. Berry Brazelton                                                  Diane Trister Dodge
           • Your Baby and Child From Birth to Age 5,                          • What’s Going on in There? How the Brain
             Penelope Leach                                                      and Mind Develop the First Five Years of Life,
           • Games to Play with Babies,                                          Lise Eliot
             Jackie Silberg                                                    • Infant and Toddler Experiences,
           • Right from Birth, Building Your Child’s                             Fran Hast, Ann Hollyfield
             Foundation for Life,                                              • More Infant and Toddler Experiences,
             Craig and Sharon Ramey                                              Fran Hast, Ann Hollyfield


                                                                 10/04/06   H:\Public Relations Unit\PUBLICATIONS\Handouts\Handout 46 - Caring for Infants & Toddlers.indd
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