Infants & Toddlers: Comforting Infants & Toddlers - Secrets for Teachers

Offering infants and toddlers comforting care-as they enter your program and all year longis an essential part of their healthy development.

  • Grades: Early Childhood, PreK–K

Parents & Teachers Partners in Care

Every parent wants their children to be comfortable and happy in the early childhood program. Sometimes, infants and toddlers have a more difficult time at first adjusting to care by adults who are not their parents. It may take time for a baby to feel very comfortable in group care. Here are some helpful tips you can offer parents:

  • Suggest that they offer calm, reassuring goodbyes in the morning. Ask them to try not to act rushed at drop-off or at pick-up time. Babies do not like to be rushed. They will stay calmer if you stay low key and loving at reunion times.
  • Have them bring along some photos of themselves and their children participating in activities they enjoy. These photos can be put together in plastic sleeves to make a small "book." This book of photos can be taken out and "read" whenever the child feels stressed or needs special reminders of her parents.
  • Recommend that they bring a comfort object that is special to their child to the program. Once the child is used to the new setting, feels comfortable and happy playing with peers, and accepts hugs and cuddles easily from his new teacher, it may not be necessary to provide the special "lovey" on a daily basis.
  • Suggest that they let you know of any special lullabies that help to soothe their toddlers to sleep. You can sing these familiar lullabies to children as you rub their backs at nap time and help them settle into sleep. 

COMFORTING BABIES IS A HIGH-PRIORITY TASK. BABIES CRY. Babies fuss. Some toddlers wilt with worry when parents leave them for long hours in the care of others.

Babies have very basic self-soothing skills. They can suck a thumb or at least get a fist to the mouth, which may help to calm them. They can turn their heads away from a strong smell. But mostly, babies need a special person, a caring adult to comfort them.

The more you show a little one that you can be trusted to soothe a hurt, a startle, a tummy ache, or a wet, uncomfortable diaper, the more likely the child will quiet as soon as she feels your gentle touch and hears your reassuring voice. Babies learn quickly that they can trust you to find just the right ways to comfort them!

Your Soothing Touch

Your touch has magic soothing properties. Sometimes a crying baby needs to be held close to your body. She rests her head on your shoulder as you firmly and lovingly support her back, swaying from one foot to the other while you murmur soothing sounds.

Research shows that the more promptly you pick up and soothe a crying baby, the quicker the baby will stop crying. The baby who trusts that you can comfort him is more likely to stop crying within a short period of time when you pick him up for a cuddle.

Sometimes toddlers have a hard time settling to sleep in a new environment. Your rhythmic pats, 'round and 'round on a baby's back, reassure him that you are there for him, and he can drift gently to sleep. Babies develop confidence in your caring ways.

Calming Voice Tones

Organize all your body systems to help calm a baby. Be sure your voice tones are low, calm, and unhurried. Babies who are screaming get even more tense if they hear anxious, high-pitched urgent tones! Soothe baby with your reassuring voice.

Create a Comforting Environment

A serene and cozy environment with low noise levels comforts babies. Some babies are comforted for short periods by the gentle rhythmic swinging of a padded seat in a wind-up baby swing.

If you have very tiny babies in your care, you may find that a kangaroo pouch is your best means for soothing a new infant. When he is close to your body and feeling your even breath, the tiny baby is safely in tune with your body movements and rhythms. The pouch feels more peaceful and may help a very young infant adjust better to group care.

Be A Good Detective

Figure out what needs soothing and how best to soothe individual infants in distress situations. Marshal your best sleuthing skills! That is, diagnose as quickly as you can what a baby needs: A gentle series of pats to bring up a painful gas bubble? A diaper change? A walk around the room in your arms while you croon and describe the interesting scenes you slowly pass? A change of position in the crib?

Click here to view and download A Letter to Families (PDF)

  • Subjects:
    Child and Infant Care, Social and Emotional Development
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