What You Do and Don’t Want to See in an Infant Program
What you want to see
Group size is limited to no more than eight babies, with at least one teacher for every three children. Each infant is assigned to a primary caregiver, allowing for strong bonds to form and so each teacher can get to know a few babies and families very well.
Teachers show warmth and support to infants throughout the day; they make eye contact and talk to them about what is going on.
Teachers are alert to babies’ cues; they hold infants or move them to a new place or position, giving babies variety in what they can look at and do.
Teachers pay close attention and talk and sing with children during routines such as diapering, feeding, and dressing.
Teachers talk, sing, and read to babies, enabling infants to become familiar with language and ultimately to recognize words and sounds.
Babies eat and sleep when they are most comfortable doing so. Teachers consider infants’ individual preferences for food and styles of eating.
Teachers follow standards for health and safety, including proper hand washing to limit the spread of infectious disease.
Teachers can see and hear infants at all times.
Parents and teachers share children’s activities and development on a daily basis, building mutual understanding and trust. Teachers welcome parents to drop by the home or center at any time.
What you don’t want to see
There are more than eight babies, with less than one teacher for every three children. Teachers care for so many children they cannot respond to individuals.
Infants are moved from group to group or cared for by whomever is available at the time, preventing babies and teachers from forming important one-to-one relationships. –OR– Poor salaries and benefits or working conditions cause high turnover in the program, depriving babies of the security that comes from forging bonds with adults who care for them.
Adults handle children in an impersonal or hurried manner, without responding to babies’ sounds and letting them know the adults are listening.
Babies are left in one position for too long or moved around abruptly at the convenience of adults.
Adults are inattentive to children’s needs or carry out daily routines without warmth, not making a habit of playing with or talking to babies.
Babies spend long periods of time in cribs, playpens, or seats without adults’ attention. Instead of responding to babies’ coos and sounds, teachers ignore or talk over them. –OR– Adults are careless about their words and tone around infants, or they use limited language. Too much or too little chatter by teachers discourages babies from staying alert and interested.
Teachers expect babies to follow rigid schedules for sleeping and eating with concern only for the convenience of adults.
Specific procedures for diapering (including hand washing), cleaning cribs and play areas, and food storage and preparation are not clearly thought out or written down. Teachers do not consistently maintain sanitary conditions.
Infants are left unattended while they are sleeping.
Teachers dismiss or ignore parental concerns and observations. Parents feel as if they are in the way and only hear about the conflicts or problems of the day.
© National Association for the Education of Young Children — Promoting excellence in early childhood education