INFANTS

Swaddling

During the early months babies feel safe and secure if they are swaddled. Lay a baby on a receiving blanket so that his head is on top of one corner. Wrap one side of the soft cotton around the baby with his arms at his sides. Next, fold the bottom part of the receiving blanket up over the baby's tummy. Finally, wrap the other side of the blanket and make sure you tuck it fully around the baby, underneath his body, so he is snuggled securely.

Singing

Soft murmured songs comfort babies. Sometimes you do not need words. Just hum "Ah, ah, ah" in a rhythmic, monotonous low voice as you snuggle a fussy baby in your arms and move your weight from one foot to the other. Sway in rhythm with your wordless humming.

Massage

Some babies have colic during the early months. Massaging with nonallergenic baby oils is one way to bring some relaxation to a baby tense with the pain from gas bubbles. Especially helpful is a circular stroke on the tummy. This helps relieve gas pains and soothes the colicky infant.

Rocking

Some crying babies are soothed by gentle, rhythmic bouncing or swinging. If you have a swing that you can wind up, a fussy baby having trouble settling into her nap may be better able to drift into dreamland. Of course, if the other infants in your care are all asleep, this fussy baby would most appreciate being draped over your belly and lap and being rocked into slumber as you sit in a comfortable rocking chair. You too can relax as you rock the baby!

TODDLERS

Sweet Dreams

Toddlers who are overtired can be difficult to settle. Be sure your young toddlers take two naps a day and are allowed to rest in a peaceful sleeping space. As toddlers begin to need only one nap per day, keep their sleep space darkened and quiet. This will help them get the rest they need to replenish their energy after a morning at high activity levels. Every toddler needs a special blanket to snuggle under. It's best if the parents provide the child's favorite "blankie"falling asleep is easier with a familiar dear blanket.

Settle Disputes

When toddlers are fighting over a toy, or one child knocks another down as he runs impetuously across the room, be sure to comfort both children. Use reassuring caresses and words to describe what happened, explaining that a better way to settle a dispute is by sharing or taking turns.

Teach Simple Words

Teach toddlers to "Use Your Words." Many toddlers get into distressing fusses with a peer because they have limited use of language to get their needs met. This being the case, they may act out physically in ways that bring indignant yowls from the peer whose toy was snatched. Teach simple words, such as "My toy!" or "I need that block!" Toddlers will be comforted by your clear, frequent, and reassuring messages that include words they can say in order to make others understand their needs.

Arrange Cozy Spaces

Make sure your spatial arrangements for different activities promote harmony and comfort. Too small a space for play with wooden blocks may well lead to a child getting hit by a block being lugged or placed by a peer. Arrange your play spaces for toddler safety and comfort. Pillows and a mattress with a washable cover make cozy floor places to rest or roll about when a toddler has been active.

This article originally appeared in the September, 2001 issue of Early Childhood Today.