Supporting Physical Development: Routines

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    Summary

    Understanding physical developmental milestones and how to support development throughout the day is an important part of the curriculum for infant and toddler programs. This lesson will provide information on ways infant and toddler caregivers can support ongoing physical growth and development within daily routines.

    Objectives
    • Describe ways responsive routines can support physical growth and development.
    • Identify ways to support physical growth and development for infants and toddlers during specific daily routines.
    • Examine ways to individualize routines so that all infants and toddlers can enhance their physical skills.

    Learn

    Learn

    Know

    High-quality, supportive early-learning environments include responsive routines that support infant and toddler development, including physical growth and development. These consistent routines should offer emotional security, which in turn helps infants and toddlers feel safe to explore and learn. By participating in everyday routines, infants and toddlers learn about the world around them and receive messages from people and the environment about what is important and of what they are capable. These experiences provide opportunities to grow and develop.

    Supporting Physical Development During Daily Routines

    In the Infant and Toddler Learning Environments course, you learned the importance of daily routines and ways of supporting infant and toddler development throughout routines. This lesson will focus specifically on supporting physical development during particular daily routines. You also learned about key caregiving strategies that help you create responsive routines. Learning from families and observation remain two important strategies that you will continue to use when supporting the physical development of infants and toddlers during daily routines.

    Ongoing observation is an important part of your role as a caregiver and it is an essential piece to the daily care and learning experiences you offer infants and toddlers. As you watch children and what they do and say, you are able to learn more about their strengths and needs, which provides you with information to help develop responsive routines.

    Routines such as feeding and eating, diapering and toileting, and sleeping or resting provide multiple opportunities to support infant and toddler physical growth and development. For example, you may help toddlers climb up steps attached to the diaper changing table to provide gross-motor skill development. The table below offers examples of interactions and approaches to each moment with an infant or toddler in an effort to help build fine- and gross-motor skills and sensory experiences.

    Opportunities During Daily Routines to Support Fine- and Gross-Motor Skills

    Young Infant (birth to 8 months)

    Mobile Infant (8 to 18 months)

    Toddler (18 to 36 months)

    • Offer the infant opportunities to grasp and hold your finger while rocking and feeding with a bottle
    • Offer an extra spoon for an infant to hold while you feed her or him
    • Wash an infant’s hands before and after feeding
    • Offer the infant opportunities to grasp and hold your finger while rocking and feeding with a bottle
    • Provide child-size eating utensils and cups with lids
    • Offer safe finger foods so that infants can feed themselves when ready
    • Support an infant to sit in a high chair during a feeding
    • Help wash infant’s hands before and after feeding and eating
    • Provide child-size eating utensils and cups with lids
    • Help toddlers serve themselves (e.g., put your hand over hers or his to help handle the larger serving spoons)
    • Engage toddlers in clean-up where they can use a cloth or sponge to help wipe up a spill or clean the table after mealtime
    • Help toddlers wash hands before and after eating

    Young Infant (birth to 8 months)

    Mobile Infant (8 to 18 months)

    Toddler (18 to 36 months)

    • Hang a mobile or chimes above the diaper changing table so that infants can reach up, touch and make noises
    • Gently move and name head, fingers, hands, toes, and feet when changing an infant’s diaper or while washing an infant’s hands after a diapering routine
    • Provide an opportunity for an infant to suck on his or her fingers or toes during diaper changing
    • While the infant is on her or his back, hold the ankles gently and rotate the legs while singing a song such as “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
    • Hang textured materials or pictures on the wall that the infant can feel with his or her fingers
    • Gently move and name head, fingers, hands, toes, and feet when changing an infant’s diaper or while washing an infant’s hands after a diapering routine
    • While the infant is on her or his back, hold the ankles gently and rotate the legs while singing a song such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
    • Hang textured materials or pictures on the wall that the toddler can feel with his or her fingers
    • Ask and support a toddler to walk up the steps to the diapering table
    • Offer opportunities for toddlers to hold onto their clean diaper while lying on the changing table until you are ready for it
    • Support older toddlers who are able to pull their pants down and use the toilet on their own – for example, provide a step stool to help a toddler step up and sit on the toilet
    • While the toddler is on his or her back, hold the ankles gently and rotate the legs while singing a song such as “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
    • Have older toddlers help pull up their pants after diapering
    • Encourage toddlers learning to use the toilet to climb on and off the toilet seat and pull their clothing up and down

    Young Infant (birth to 8 months)

    Mobile Infant (8 to 18 months)

    Toddler (18 to 36 months)

    • Offer the infant opportunities to grasp and hold your finger while rocking to sleep
    • Hold and rock babies while helping them get to sleep so they can hear your heartbeat
    • Decrease the activity level and volume of noise (when possible) prior to an infant’s sleep time
    • Offer the infant opportunities to grasp and hold your finger while rocking to sleep
    • Decrease the activity level and volume of noise (when possible) prior to an infant's sleep time
    • Offer opportunities for toddlers to stretch their muscles before resting or sleeping
    • Offer opportunities for toddlers to stretch their muscles before resting or sleeping
    • Decrease the activity level and volume of noise (when possible) prior to a toddler’s rest or sleep time
    • Read a book such as “Goodnight Moon” before rest time. Talk about the book together and even pretend to jump over the moon as toddlers move to their cots for rest and sleep time
    • Ask toddlers to wiggle their sillies out of body parts before sleep or rest time. Toddlers can point to a body part and “put it to sleep” until their whole body is resting
     

    Other routines for infants and toddlers may include: arrival (hellos), hand washing, teeth brushing, and departure (goodbyes). Keep in mind:

    • Temperament of the infant or toddler
    • Family values, beliefs, hopes and dreams for their infant or toddler
    • Your personal experiences and thoughts about physical development and routines
    • Variables that impact the caregiving environment (e.g., physical set-up of room, caregiver schedules, materials available, etc.)

    Supporting Physical Development through Individualized and Responsive Routines

    Each infant and toddler approaches the world in his or her own way. Several things contribute to this approach, such as temperament, family culture, and experiences. In an effort to support each infant’s and toddler’s development and learning, you should provide individualized, responsive routines. Observe and reflect on what infants and toddlers are experiencing, and then think about additional ways to support them through your relationship, the environment, activities, and other experiences in an effort to help each individual child feel confident and successful in his or her growing skills.

    Routines are a significant part of development and learning for infants and toddlers. Therefore, it is important to work with the infant’s or toddler’s family to ensure that routines are supportive of and based on the child’s strengths, needs and learning interests, while also complimenting the family’s values, beliefs and goals. This collaborative approach can help support all of the infants and toddlers in your care. Individualized approaches to routines include:

    • Learning about and implementing routines based on families’ cultural preferences and practices related to feeding or eating, diapering and toileting, and sleeping and resting
    • Creating individual schedules for routines
    • Understanding the infant’s or toddler’s temperament style (e.g., sensitivity to touch, such as when using a wet wipe)
    • Adjusting your pace for routines to match the pace and rhythm of the infant or toddler
    • Provide plenty of time for infants and toddlers to practice their skills while eating, drinking, toileting, washing and dressing

    Below are examples of what an individualized approach may look like during a care routine:

    Caregiver, Ms. Raquel, learned from Rebecca’s family that they give her items to hold and manipulate during diapering routines. Rebecca is 4-months-old, and Ms. Raquel has noticed that she struggles holding onto different manipulatives as they appear to be too heavy for her. Ms. Raquel found lighter and thicker manipulatives, thinking these might be easier for her to explore. Ms. Raquel offered Rebecca a rattle made from soft fabric during a diapering routine. Ms. Raquel noticed she was able to grasp and hold onto this rattle. At the end of the day, Ms. Raquel shared this observation and information with Rebecca’s family.

    Mr. Gregory and Charlie’s family have noticed that Charlie, 26-months-old, will cry and run away when it’s time to wash hands before and after mealtimes. Mr. Gregory shared with the family that Charlie seems to prefer the liquid soap and is able to take part in the routine more comfortably if he sings a song that describes the experience of touching and feeling the soap and water. “First we have to rub, rub, rub with soap…and now our hands are soapy and slippery…so let’s rinse them off!”

    See

    Supporting Physical Development During Mealtime

    Watch as caregivers support infants' and toddlers' physical development during mealtimes.

    Do

    Being a responsive caregiver means you:

    • Provide a nurturing, consistent and responsive environment for infants and toddlers.
    • Respond to the needs of infants and toddlers quickly and appropriately.
    • Recognize that establishing relationships with the important adults in the lives of infants and toddlers is key.
    • Modify your environment as infants and toddlers develop and change.
    • Continuously examine and reflect on what you are observing from the infants and toddlers in your care, the environment you have created, as well as the interactions, experiences, and activities you offer.
    • Balance the predictability and comfort of routines with the changing needs of infants and toddlers.

    In essence, being a responsive caregiver means you do a lot!

    Consider the descriptions above and try at least one of the following ideas below to offer a responsive approach to supporting physical development during routines:

    • Offer toddlers a no-splash pitcher so they can practice pouring with minimal spills.
    • Hang an acrylic safety mirror near the diapering table for infants.
    • Post photographs or illustrations on hand washing so infants and toddlers can see the steps and have visual reminders.

    Explore

    Explore

    Providing infants and toddlers appropriate experiences and interactions to help support their physical development is part of being a responsive caregiver. Download and print the handout, A Responsive Approach to Blowing Bubbles During Goodbyes. You will read through different approaches to blowing bubbles during goodbyes (departure) and determine which approaches fit with which age group. Compare your answers to the answers provided. 

    Exercises & Resources

    Apply

    Apply

    Daily routines offer opportunities for caring and learning. You will spend a great deal of time in routines with infants and toddlers, so it is important to make the moments meaningful. Download and print the handout, Supporting Physical Development During Daily Routines. Think about the infants and toddlers in your care and all you have learned throughout this course and this particular lesson. Use your knowledge of infants and toddlers (consider reviewing the Infant and Toddler Physical Development milestones information from Lesson Two) and think about the ways you can continue to support their physical growth and development during routines. First review the example provided. Then, complete the sections for each infant and toddler in your care.

    Exercises & Resources

    Demonstrate

    Demonstrate
    Assessment

    Q1

    Which of the following are two key strategies for supporting the physical development of infants and toddlers?

    Q2

    True or false? Caregiving routines (feeding and eating, diapering and toileting, sleeping and resting, arrival, departure) provide opportunities to encourage physical development and growth.

    Q3

    Which of the following is not an example of an individualized approach to caregiving routines?

    References & Resources

    Albrecht, K., & Miller, L. (2001). Innovations: Infant and Toddler Development. Lewisville, NC: Gryphon House.

    Bee, H. and Boyd, D. (2004). The developing child (10th ed.). USA: Peterson Education.

    Bruce, T. (2004). Developing learning in early childhood. London: Paul Chapman.

    Gonzalez-Mena, J. & Eyer, D. (2009). Infants, Toddlers and Caregivers: A curriculum of respectful, responsive care and education (8th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.

    Greenman, J. T., Stonehouse, A., & Schweikert, G. (2008). Prime Times: A Handbook for Excellence in Infant and Toddler Programs. St. Paul, MH. Redleaf Press.

    Hewitt, D. (2002). So This Is Normal Too?: Teachers and parents working out developmental issues in young children. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.

    Lally, J.R. (2003). Caring for Infants and Toddlers in Groups: Developmentally appropriate practice. Washington, DC: Zero to Three.