Infants & Toddlers: Activities That Comfort and Calm
Touch is a powerful soother when babies are upset. Hold a young baby firmly with one hand under the bottom and one hand under the head. Your steady embrace will help that infant feel secure and unafraid of wobbling or falling. Reassuring, long palm strokes on the body can soothe babies surprised by loud noises or by seeing a strange person coming too close. Slowly and calmly, pick up the baby. Hold the baby's tummy securely against your chest while you rock from side to side on your feet. If she is crying hard, rest your cheek snuggly against the baby's cheek, as you face in opposite directions.
If the baby in your care is quite familiar with you and your ways, and trusts that you are a person who can help her feel comfortable, you may not always need to use body holding or touching. Just using your voice may comfort that child.
If a baby is overtired, crying and fussing, and having trouble settling into sleep, sing soothing lullabies in a low voice. Be sure to quietly sing the same simple tunes over and over.
Toddlers sometimes develop powerful fears. Try to figure out what is worrying the child. Some young toddlers have strong stranger anxiety. It is wise to assign a few toddlers to the same teacher so that the children quickly get used to the feel of being carried in that teacher's arms or to having that familiar adult change their diapers. They will trust that their teacher will feed them in tempo with their special eating styles. When they can count on the routines and handling that you, their loving and trusted teacher, provide for them, they will be easier to soothe.
Sometimes a toddler is very angry and upset because she cannot have the toy she wants the minute she wants it. The distraction technique may work well in this case. Substituting a similar toy may help. Engaging the toddler in another interesting activity may ease her indignation and howls of protest when you gently take back the toy she has just snatched from a peer playing nearby. Talking about "taking turns" is not always helpful with toddlers. More hands-on comforting, such as a cuddle on your lap and an engaging game with you or with other children, may be more effective.
Pay attention to the intensity with which a toddler is engaged in an activity. Some children have an intense temperament. If you try to interrupt that child's activity in order to shepherd all of the children outdoors to the playground, a very involved toddler may become quite agitated and upset. You will need to slow down, explain what the plan for the group is, and give that child plenty of time to adjust to the change in pace and activity. Children with intense temperaments need slow, calming, and soothing transition times.