Facts for Living: Provide quality care for healthy development of our youngest – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Facts for Living: Provide quality care for healthy development of our youngest

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension Agent

080714-facts-for-living1Almost half of all children in Kansas under the age of 6 have both parents in the labor force. These children are cared for by someone other than their parent – a close relative, friend, or child care provider. Young children are always growing, developing, thinking and learning. We know that the first three years of life are critical in children’s brain development and that effective and positive parenting along with quality child care and early education can greatly enhance a child’s lifetime development. An individual’s healthy growth and development into adulthood is greatly influenced by the quality of his or her early childhood (ages 0-6) experiences.

Quality child care programs help children grow in all areas of development: physical, intellectual, social, emotional, language, moral and spiritual domains. Child care providers need to understand how children at different ages grow and learn in order to provide warm, sensitive care and positive learning experiences.

Babies start forming attachments with the important adults in their lives from the moment they are born. They learn to trust their parents, child care providers and other important adults, and they learn that other people will meet their needs. Child care providers can help babies build a sense of trust and security by being responsive to each individual infant. Child care providers can build trust by spending one-on-one time with babies and responding quickly to their needs.

Remember that infants have their own special ways of telling you when they are happy, tired, hungry, bored, need to stop playing or need a fresh diaper. Watch where they are looking with their eyes, the kind of facial expressions they make, and take notice of all of their body movements. Listen to all of the babbling sounds they make and the different crying messages.

It is important for parents and child care providers to talk to infants even though they aren’t talking. Infants are capable of communicating, even when they can’t speak a word. Talk to infants throughout the day. Babies learn language by hearing you speak. Make eye contact, smile and laugh.

Some babies have very regular routines and are often hungry and tired at the same time every day. Other babies are irregular in their habits. This can sometimes make it challenging for child care providers. Tune into babies’ needs and let them eat and sleep on their own timetable. They will be more able to stick to the same schedule as other babies as they get older.

Playing games with infants is more than just fun. They learn a lot when you play games like peek-a-boo with them. Try playing the same games on a regular basis. Infants are always processing and putting together the world around them. Simple games teach them about cause and effect.

Stable, caring, responsive relationships are essential for healthy development in children. Children develop in an environment of relationships that begin in the home and include extended family members, early care and education providers, and members of the community.

McFarland_RebeccaRebecca McFarland is the Frontier Extension District family and child development agent. For more information, she can be contacted at the Extension district’s Ottawa office, 1418 S. Main, Suite 2, Ottawa, KS 66067, or call 785-229-3520, or email [email protected].

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