|Erik Erikson, a psychologist who studied children, calls the first stage of development "Trust". During this stage (from birth through 18 months), infants are introduced to the world.
At first they can do very little for themselves; they are totally dependent on adults to feed them, care for them, make them comfortable, and hold them. Although they are very dependent, young infants are still interested in what they can see, hear, taste, and smell in their environment.
They are good observers and respond to everything around them. Before long they develop the ability to crawl and move around to explore their environment on their own. If you meet the basic needs of infants and give them interesting things to look at and safe spaces in which to explore, they will learn that the world is a place they can trust.
Understanding the developmental needs of infants allows me to plan a program that meets their needs and helps each infant grow and develop. In the following, I have outlined what infants are like and how my curriculum, based on the Creative Curriculum for Family Child Care, helps meet their needs.
- Infants depend on adults to meet their basic needs - to be fed, kept dry and comfortable, picked up, and held. I will respond consistently to each infant's needs and schedule and use routines to help infants grow and feel bonded to myself and my program.
- Infants are born with individual and unique personalities: some are quiet, some are active; some like to be cuddled and held; other don't like to be touched. I will observe each child's unique characteristics and use that information to build a relationship and meet each child's basic needs.
- Infants develop attachments to their primary caregivers. I will provide consistent responsive care and build a positive relationship with each infant's parents.
- Infants like to watch other children and join in the action. I will find ways to include infants in activities without allowing them to disrupt what older children are doing.
- Infants use all their senses - tasting, touching, smelling, hearing, and seeing - to learn about the world. I will check all materials to be sure that infants can safely suck, squeeze, throw, and push them to learn about them.
- Infants experiment with objects and sounds and enjoy discovering what effect their actions have. I will select materials that will be responsive to infant's explorations and actions.
- Infants communicate with others through actions and sounds. I will respond to infant's early sounds and words and encourage their language development.
- Infants explore and move by creeping, crawling, pulling themselves up, and walking. I will organize the environment so that there are large stretches of floor space on which infants can move around safely.
- Infants practice new skills such as grasping, touching, hitting, rolling, and grabbing. I will plan activities that enable infants to learn and practice developing physical skills.
Some of the toys and materials that I have purchased for infants:
For more information on caring for Infants in a Family Child Care environment, please refer to the "Creative Curriculum for Family Child Care" by Diane Trister Dodge.
- crib mobile or "busy box"
- washable, cuddly toys and stuffed animals
- durable plastic rattles
- plastic key rings
- nonbreakable plastic mirror
- teething rings and other toys to chew on
- grasping toys
- chime balls
- toy telephones
- balls of different sizes
- "fill and dump" toys
- large plastic and wooden animals
- soft cloth blocks
- cloth and vinyl dolls
- stacking and nesting toys
- cloth, heavy cardboard, and nontoxic plastic books
- household items such as pots, pans, rubber spatulas, wooden spoons, empty cardboard boxes, plastic food containers, large plastic napkin rings, coffee cans with plastic lids, and measuring cups and spoons
- textured balls
- cloth animals, etc.