Reprinted with permission.
Providing child care for infants is a task not to be taken lightly. Besides general care of the infant, you are also there to support the infant’s social and emotional health. To get expert tips for infant daycare, Own A Daycare looked to Diane Bahr, Speech-Language Pathologist, Feeding Specialist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor, and Author of Nobody Ever Told Me (or My Mother) That! Everything from Bottles and Breathing to Healthy Speech Development.
I highly suggest book marking this interview if you care for infants and you don’t have time to read it at the moment. It is chock full of important and valuable information. Here is Part 2 of our interview with Diane Bahr:
QUESTION FROM Own A Daycare:
How can child care providers help support infants' social emotional health during Play time, Rest time and Diapering?
ANSWER FROM Diane Bahr:
During playtime, continue to encourage conversational/social turn taking, concept development, and vocal/verbal expression through many of the same ways we discussed for mealtime. Limit the use of pacifiers and other items that don’t allow the child to play completely. Playtime is another good time to turn off the TV. “Play is a child’s work,” so daycare is a great place for children to learn about play and even become role models for other children during play.
Child care providers can encourage appropriate play and the language/social development that goes along with play. In fact, structured play is one of the ways that speech-language pathologists treat speech and language disorders in young children, so play is considered a crucial activity for speech, language, communication, and social development.
Also, playtime is a great time to get babies out of their seats for tummy-time, to place them into different body positions (e.g., side-lying), and to let the baby wiggle/move to encourage good sensory-motor development. For example, tummy-time encourages the development of the back, shoulders, arms, neck, head, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, etc. Child care providers can encourage vocal and social interactions as well as early literacy activities (such as looking at picture books together) while babies are on their tummies or in other positions.
Diapering is also a wonderful time for communicative/social interaction where the child care provider can:
Talk to the child about what they are doing
Give the child a chance to vocalize or verbalize
Have pretend or real conversations
Rest time is another time for communicative/social interaction. As the child is going down for a nap, it is a good time to have a conversation about how nice it is to rest, all the child has done in the morning, what the child will be doing in the afternoon, etc. This may be a time that a pacifier is used appropriately if needed. My book has guidelines on appropriate pacifier use, tummy-time, social/communication development, and much more.
The importance of the day-to-day interactions between child care providers and the children (for whom they care) cannot be underestimated. Child care providers are fulfilling the very important role parents could provide if they were not working or otherwise engaged. I don’t know the data, but I believe that children in daycare may even have some advantages over children who do not receive the interactions we discussed in this interview.