Infants

BABIES NEED TO ACT IN ORDER TO LEARN. Young children differ temperamentally in their ability to adjust to new people or new situations. When a child still shows distress after several days, you will need to galvanize all your soothing skills. Make sure you hold this baby on your hip or snuggle him firmly and gently at your shoulder. Use your palms to make soothing wide circles on his back or pat his back rhythmically while you murmur reassuring little sounds.

When you need to make a trip to get new supplies, be sure to pick up the distressed baby and carry him around. Croon to him and talk to him gently while you are walking toward the supply chest.

Play interpersonal games with babies that are already quite familiar to them, such as pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo, so that they don't feel you are a "stranger." They'll see that you know their favorite games that they enjoy at home.

At nap times, use long palmer strokes to lull a tense baby into sleep.

If a very tiny baby enters your care, use the kangaroo pouch to carry him around for some time. Hearing your heartbeat, feeling the warmth of your body so close, and being soothed by the rhythms of your walking and your body movements will help that tiny baby begin to feel more secure.

Toddlers

Some toddlers look well adjusted for the first weeks and then they show signs of dawning awareness that they are not with their familiar family members. Be patient. Remember that even when a toddler seems to have adjusted well, he may suddenly get upset at being in school, even weeks after he has been playing easily in your room.

Sometimes a toddler who appears to be adjusting well may still show lingering discomfort in bodily functions. Make diapering a leisurely activity for this toddler. Talk cheerfully and lovingly as you clean and re-diaper him.

At naptime, murmur lullabies as you slowly rub the toddlers back. Your physical loving touches and gestures all convey a message: "It is safe here. We love having you here. You are a delicious little person!" Through your touches, your pats your crooning lullabies, you will gradually reassure this child the he is safe and secure in your care.

If a toddler begins to "wilt" after spending several hours in the new situation, create inviting spaces with soft pillows that he can lean on and dreamily suck his thumb. This will help him gain back emotional equilibrium.

Be specific in telling a toddler when his parent will come for him if he is worried. For example, say, "Papa will be here to take you  home later. First we have naptime. Then we have a snuggle story time together. Then right after your story time, Papa will be coming!" If a toddler misses his folks and wails his worry to you , say softly, "You sure do miss your mommy. She loves you. She will be here soon to get you." If a toddler begins to whine or act worried later in the day, reassure her by singing:

"My mama comes back,

She always comes back,

She always comes back to get me!

My mama comes back,

She always comes back,

She would never forget me!"

Ask parents to bring in pictures of family members holding and playing with the child. Paste those photos in the child's cubby, where he can see them displayed. If possible, ask parents to provide a photo album with pictures in plastic sleeves. You can take them out and share them with a lonesome toddler.

Click here to view the related article Infants & Toddlers/Development: Soothing Separations