Providing Learning Experiences in Everyday Routines with Infants and Toddlers

The average baby will have between 2,500 and 3,000 diaper changes in their first year. That’s a lot of diapers! If they eat every 3 hours, that same baby will also be fed 2,920 times. Looking at these numbers, it’s easy to imagine why much of a baby’s day is spent engaging in caregiving routines. As a parent or child care provider, it’s easy to get caught up in the repetition of these routines and just “go through the motions”. But why not make these routines fun learning experiences as well?

Research shows that babies and toddlers may actually learn the most during these everyday routines. Why is that? Between birth and 2 years of age, children learn concepts such as language skills, social/emotional skills, motor skills, math and science primarily through their relationships with parents and child care providers. Infants and toddlers are wired to learn through interactions with their caregivers and since so much of their day is spent eating, sleeping and getting diaper changes, there’s no better time than this!

Here are some ways to incorporate learning experiences into everyday routines:

  • During diaper changes, talk to your child about their day or point out the different colors on the mobile hanging above the changing table.
  • While feeding baby food, let your baby hold her own spoon and encourage her to scoop up the food by herself. Start taking turns scooping the food for each bite.
  • Read a book to your infant or toddler every day before naptime and bedtime. Have your child point to all of the animals, trees, cars or clouds in the book.
  • During mealtimes with toddlers, count the number of chicken strips, pancakes, strawberries or peas on his plate.
  • While giving your child a bath, provide her with measuring cups, plastic bowls or large spoons. Show her how to fill the cups with water and then dump it out.
  • Sing throughout the day! Make up silly songs about getting a diaper change, drinking a bottle or taking a bath.
  • When getting dressed for the day, ask your child to point to his hands, feet, tummy, legs and arms.

With caregiving routines for infants and toddlers taking up a majority of the day, it can be easy to “check out” when feeding or changing the children in your care. Remember that these routines can be so much more, and soon incorporating learning experiences will come as easily as going through the motions. Have fun!

 

Tags: infant, toddler, routine, learning experience, read, sing

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