Learning Moments in Infant Routines
Caregiving routines for your infant, such as diapering and feeding, are often mistakenly seen as chores to be rushed through or performed on schedule. But when parents and caregivers focus on the children’s experience, these routines become a valuable learning and growth opportunity for babies.
Responding to children, even when they are too young to understand the meaning of our words, lets them know that their feelings and experiences are important and respected. Parents make the most of routines when you give your child your focused attention to the task at hand and respond to the rhythms and needs of your baby. In doing so, your baby will feel good about himself and learn important social, emotional and cognitive skills.
Take advantage of daily routines and play, talk, and listen to your baby…
Pay attention to your child’s cues and individual needs. Your baby benefits when you respectfully carry out routines with a genuine interest in what your child is experiencing. Positive interactions and experiences are the very foundation of learning and growth for an infant.
Make eye contact with your baby and respond to his/her sounds and coos. Look your baby in the eye while diapering and talk to him. Your child will respond to your voice, facial expressions and eye contact. You’ll see him move his mouth and make sounds as he tries to mimic the sounds and expressions you are making. These are the beginning stages of a reciprocal conversation!
Talk about and describe what you are doing. Some call this “broadcasting.” It’s describing in detail what’s going on around you and your baby. In doing so, children learn new vocabulary and about the world around them. “You’re drinking your bottle. I think you like the taste of it. Do you hear the truck outside? That’s the mail truck.” “Daddy is going to help you fall sleep. Are you tired? I think you are sleepy. Should we look at the pictures in this book first? I’m going to choose your favorite book about animals today.” “Let’s get ready for your bath. The water feels warm. This is a blue cloth. It should feel soft on your face.”
Sing with your baby. If you run out of things to say, sing a favorite song. Babies respond to the rhythm of music and will enjoy listening as you sing during routines. Your baby will watch your mouth move and anticipate certain words of the song. Eventually your baby will be able to sing along with you in her own way.
Give your baby a “heads-up” before a routine or transition. Babies can become engaged in whatever they are looking at or playing with. A sudden change can startle or even upset them. When it’s time to move on to another task or routine, let him know what’s coming next. Your baby will hear your words and learn to prepare for the transition. “I’m going to pick you up now so I can feed you your bottle.” “We’re going into the bedroom so we can change your diaper.” “It’s almost bath time. Mommy is getting everything ready!”