BABIES THRIVE ON SECURITY. IN EARLY MONTHS, secure feelings stem from being warm, cuddled closely, and comfortable in the tummy (and from having a clean bottom!).

Fear of Falling

When a baby suddenly loses his balance, he becomes frightened and throws off a Moro reflex-his arms spread wide open, then close rapidly together as if searching for a firm hold on the body of his teacher. Swaddling him with a receiving blanket is an excellent way to help a tiny baby feel secure. Wrapped in a blanket, an infant feels more confident that he will not fall or be left to flail his limbs in a scary way.

Empty-Tummy Troubles

Hungry babies cry in order to call you to feed them. As you learn the feeding patterns of each infant, you'll see that some babies need to be fed more often than others. Just remember that inner signals from an empty stomach cause upset, despairing feelings that compel babies to use the strongest method they have to call for help.

Loud Noises

Loud noises scare babies. Sing soft, soothing songs to lull babies to sleep. Arrange your environment so that infant-care spaces are quiet and peaceful.

Cold Places

Because young babies have difficulty regulating their body temperature, they need to be kept warm. But keep in mind that they will be uncomfortable if a room is hot and stuffy. In a warm room, loose clothing is better for babies that are beyond the swaddling stage.

Breaks in Routines

Babies have to figure out how the world works. If you keep routines regular-simple and soothing-they learn to expect safe, comfortable, predictable interactions each day. Adventures and novelties may be enticing, but early on, be sure the daily flow of feeding times, playing times, cuddling and singing times, and bathing and nap times are easy for babies to anticipate and interpret. As you increase their comfort levels, you also boost babies' learning-to-predict skills.

Stranger Anxiety

Toward the end of the first year and into the toddler years, a major concern for children is fear of abandonment. A mobile infant will crawl rapidly after you as you move to another part of the room. A toddler just entering care may cry in despairing protest as his mom or dad leaves him with a "stranger" (no matter how loving you are).

It's so important to remember that whenever you have to leave the room, tell toddlers that you are going and that you will be back soon. They need to learn that as their special adult, you will not disappear forever.

Also, be sure that each child is assigned to a particular teacher. When "different folks with different strokes" are always taking turns with the children, they do not feel as anchored. Just as with infants, routines help toddlers settle in more calmly.

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