Most early childhood educators know a lot about toddlers and preschoolers thanks to their schooling and classroom experience. Infants, however, can often present more of a challenge. There’s a reason a lot of childcare centers do not offer infant care, but that also makes it harder for educators to gain experience with this age group.
Caring for infants in childcare
Since infants in childcare can be very young (believe it or not, there are children that start care as early as six weeks!), and young infants have particular needs, without experience, taking care of them can be rather intimidating. You might be feeling nervous or uncertain of what to do to stimulate learning experiences.
The good news is that in many ways, infants are easier to care for than older children. They cannot talk or walk yet (making them much easier to wrangle!) and they’re eager to take in the world around them through new experiences. You can set them up for success by putting together daily schedules that outline their routines. In these schedules, you can include learning opportunities such as the ones below!
Set up loose parts around your classroom to provide infants with the opportunity to discover them. You can use items from a kitchen such as whisks, spoons, bowls, trivets, container lids, plastic containers, rolling pins, etc.
Ensure you are supervising infants closely while they engage with these learning materials.
Bubbles are an amazing sensory learning experience for infants! Whisk and mash bubbles with infants in this childcare activity. Children will strengthen their motor skills as they stretch for, touch, and pop bubbles.
Remember: always directly supervise any play involving water, and be sure to drain water promptly after the activity.
Early learners explore color and science with their senses in this activity. Invite children to play with yellow and blue ice in the water play area. As the ice melts, the color transforms to green! Pose questions to further guide exploration and observations. Remember to cover the water table when not in use.
Encourage infants to explore water play areas both inside your classroom and in your outdoor play area. You can set up water tables, sprinklers, small hoses, buckets, sponges, spray bottles, etc, and (of course) supervise closely.
This will encourage sensory and fine motor skill development.
On a sunny day outside, help children notice their shadows while they are playing. Explain that the light from the sun cannot pass through our bodies, so it creates a shadow. While young children will not understand this yet, they will love discovering their shadows!
Using an empty plastic bottle without the label, shiny loose parts (e.g., sequins, poms, gems), and water, create a sensory bottle for your infants to engage with. They will be able to discover colors, shapes, textures, and light!
For more activity ideas, visit HiMama’s Activity Database! We have over 1,000 curated activities available for free!