BABIES THRIVE ON SECURITY IN EARLY months, secure feelings flow from being warm, cuddled closely, and comfortable in their tummies.
FEAR OF FALLING
When babies suddenly lose their balance, they become frightened and throw off a Moro reflex-- arms spread wide open and then close rapidly together as if they are searching for a firm hold on the body of their caregiver. Swaddling with a receiving blanket is an excellent way to help tiny babies feel secure. Wrapped in a blanket, infants feel more confident that they will not fall or be left to flail their limbs in a scary way. Remember, too, abrupt movements scare babies. Move them smoothly and gently from changing table to settling in your arms to take a bottle in a rocking chair or when carrying them to their crib for a nap.
EMPTY TUMMY TROUBLES
Hungry babies cry to call you to feed them. Tiny ones vary in the number of ounces of milk their tummies can hold. Same need to nurse every couple of hours between feedings. 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 impel babies to use the strongest method they have to call for help!
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. If you're located on a busy street, you'll need soundproofing so that harsh outdoor noises, such as sirens and clanging, do not bombard infant ears.
Because young babies have difficulty regulating their body temperatures, they need to be kept warm. But keep in mind, they will be uncomfortable if a room is hot and stuffy. Loose clothing in a warm room is better for babies beyond the swaddling stage. Also, be sure that direct sunlight does not reach their eyes if they are sleeping in an outdoor area or near a window. As you know, baby skin, including their eyelids, is very thin and delicate and can burn easily.
BREAKS IN ROUTINES
Babies have to figure out how the world works! If you keep routines pretty much the same-simple and soothing-then they learn to expect safe, comfortable, predictable interactions in child care each day. Adventures and novelties may be enticing, but early on be sure that the daily flow of feeding times, playing This Little Piggy Goes To Market, mobile-- kicking time, cuddling and singing time, and bathing and nap times are planned so they become easy for babies to anticipate and interpret. As you increase babies' comfort levels, you also boost their ability to learn to predict.
AS CHILDREN GET OLDER, THEY ARE OFTEN fearful of the unexpected and need their own time to adjust to new situations.
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 at first in despairing protest as Papa or Mama leaves her with a "stranger" (no matter how loving you are).
It's so important to remember that whenever you have to leave the child care room, tell your 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. If a toddler is particularly anxious, take her with you on an errand in the child care facility. This way, she will learn firsthand that you don't just "disappear": You leave to get some food for snack or find special supplies for an art activity.
Also be sure that each child is assigned to a primary caregiver. This way, children learn whom to look to kiss the boo-boo when they fall, who will give them a reassuring cuddle, and who brings them the magic feel of familiar touch so they can get back to their play quickly. When "different folks with different strokes" are always taking turns with the caregiving, children do not feel as anchored. And, just like infants, reassuring routines help toddlers settle in more calmly to group care.
Just as children differ in their approaches to life, they also differ in their tempos. There are toddlers to whom the playground looks incredibly inviting and so gallop away from you to play. Others may take on a worried look and need to take your hand as you introduce them gradually with reassuring words and calm patience to new activities such as the slide or sandbox.
Some children need a more leisurely approach throughout the day-a forewarning that soon it will be time to wash their hands and get ready for lunch, time to put the toys away so they can get comfortable on their rug for a story, and so on.
Tuning into each child's tempo will help decrease upsets for toddlers who are uncomfortable with being hurried and who are suspicious of new activities, new foods, or new folks! Mealtimes and going-home times will also be more peaceful. By learning to read each child's body signals, you will be able to prevent the worried frowns, anxious darting glances, or scared sobbing that signal an upset little one.
Through wisdom, sensitivity, and awareness, you will not only be able to soothe upsets-you will also be able to prevent the infants and toddlers in your care from feeling distressed.