Use diapering times to find out about a baby's skin sensitivities or his difficulty with change of position. How slowly or gently do you need to touch this baby's skin? Wipe his bottom and talk cheerfully with him about how he will feel all clean and comfortable soon. One baby will coo back as you talk. Another baby turns her head away and frets. Lying still is hard for this baby. She needs you to lie her down more slowly and to use low voice tones to reassure her.
Some babies are very regular when it comes to eating, napping, or having bowel movements. Others are very unpredictable. Tune into each baby's rhythms. One may be hungry every few hours. Another needs to be fed at more varied times-after one or two hours. Feed a baby when she needs it, not when the clock says so!
Be alert to each baby's comfort levels regarding noises, strangers coming too close, or other changes that upset them. People differ in their temperament styles! The more you are aware of each child's special temperament traits, such as high- or low-activity level, discomfort or ease in adapting to new situations, ability to focus on an activity without being distracted or perhaps very easily distracted, the better your ability to help each child cope more effectively when distressed by a new taste of food or a new visitor to your room.
Research shows that as a nurturing teacher builds each toddler's trust, children become more cooperative and compliant with rules such as picking up all the toys strewn about before coming to the rug for story time.
Notice needs for independence. Some toddlers express a fierce need to do something without assistance, even though you personally know that the toddler still needs your help with tying shoelaces or buttoning his jacket. A toddler will feel more competent and confident if you help in unobtrusive, low-keyed ways rather than impatiently or intrusively doing "for" for the little one. Remember that wills are strong and skills are in short supply as babies grow into toddlerhood.
Your sensitivity to toddler signals will teach them that you can be trusted to boost their self-esteem without letting them get too frustrated. If a toddler victoriously stacks all the rings on a ring stack pole, but the rings are stacked helterskelter rather than lined up from largest to smallest, praise her for finishing this work. She is not yet able to sort the rings by size. But she has surely accomplished a task that she can be proud of!