Safe, Warm, Nurturing Infant Care
Trusting Your Baby to Educators
Q: Why are you including infant care in an Early Childhood Educational School?
Mrs. Hutchison: I believe that babies who are unable to be with parents and family during the course of a day need an abundance of tender loving care in a safe and nurturing environment. Our school has two very large, well-equipped nurseries with soothing, soft colors and warm, nurturing caregivers. Parents whose work schedules are demanding need to know that they can entrust their baby to a caregiver who is trustworthy and honest and who communicates regularly.
Q: You don’t really think babies need an educational curriculum, do you?
Mrs. H.: Yes, I do. Babies need all five senses stimulated for their bodies and brains to develop normally. By this I mean they need eye contact, singing, hand clapping, holding, feeding, reading, bouncing, cuddling, stroller rides — the list goes on and on. These are the everyday activities that mom and dad engage in with the baby at home, so when a parent entrusts their child to a care provider, the parent needs to know that the baby is getting exactly that kind of good, old-fashioned TLC. Guaranteeing appropriate play and tender loving care is my idea of the finest educational curriculum for babies.
Q: How do you keep parents informed about what their baby is doing each day?
Mrs. H.: Each day that the child is with us, the parent receives a copy of the caregiver’s daily report. This report contains comments on the baby’s activities, feeding and diapering schedule, physical milestones, and every so often it will include a picture! Building strong communication between the caregiver and the parent is very important. In addition we publish a monthly Infant Newsletter that talks in general terms about what’s going on in the nursery. Of course, each nursery has a telephone so parents can call in at any time, and each caregiver has email. We value our parents and plan for strong, open lines of communication.
Q: What will the nursery environment be like?
Mrs. H.: Our two nurseries are painted in pale sky colors to encourage a relaxed atmosphere. There is a soft floor area for play times, with a variety of safe, developmentally appropriate toys. We often play music — not just nursery rhymes and jingles. Babies need a variety of stimulation, so you will hear classical and popular sounds as well to help develop well-rounded, intelligent children. Cozy rocking chairs are provided for feeding and cuddling. Each nursery also has a convenient kitchenette and a well stocked diapering station.
Q: What do you mean by developmentally appropriate toys?
Mrs. H.: Babies need toys that encourage creativity while developing motor coordination and sensory awareness. We provide toys that are squeezable, poundable, and shakeable. Our toys have texture and color. We also have large wall mirrors at floor level. Electronic toys that encourage babies to just sit and stare are NOT offered at JJ. Nor will you find any type of “jumper” that hinders the proper development of pelvic growth.
Q: What is the caregiver-to-baby ratio?
Mrs. H.: We provide one caregiver for up to four babies. I’d also like to point out that the state defines infants as babies up to 11 months. We believe that little ones up to 18 months still need much the same attention as they did at 11 months. Therefore we offer our 1-to-4 ratio up to 18 months, exceeding the state requirement.
Q: What ages are children in your infant rooms?
Mrs. H.: In our two nurseries we care for babies up to 18 months.
Q: How many infants are in each nursery?
Mrs. H.: Each nursery can accommodate eight babies comfortably with two caregivers. We provide each child with their own crib and clothes cabinet. Parents really appreciate the clothes cabinet because they need only send clothing once weekly, instead of bringing new supplies each day.
Q: What kind of training is required of the adults that will care for the infants?
Mrs. H.: What I look for in an Infant Specialist is past involvement in early childhood education, experience with and passion for babies, maturity, and an inquisitive loving nature. All of our teaching staff is involved in the STARS program (State Training and Registry System) as a requirement for continued employment with Junior Junction. The STARS program promotes continued early childhood education development and enhances professional knowledge in the area of education they work in.
Q: How do you handle feeding?
Mrs. H.: We feed the babies formula or breast milk, depending on the parent’s preference. Breast milk usually comes to the center frozen and stored for a limited amount of time until used. Formula is parent-prepared fresh each day and brought to the center daily. Either type we call “baby milk.” We heat baby milk in warm water or in a bottle warmer, never in a microwave. Babies will always be held while they nurse — Always! We do not prop babies with a bottle while in the crib. Feeding is a special time while the caregiver can cuddle and have eye contact with the young one.
Q: What is your philosophy on pacifiers?
Mrs. H.: Babies need to suck; it builds strong jaws and helps develop mouth coordination for eating and speaking. Some babies need to suck much more than can be provided by feeding times. Parents, of course, let us know if their baby needs a pacifier, and we only use pacifiers provided by parents. We keep careful track of pacifiers, and never pin them to a baby’s clothing.
Q: Will a baby get enough sleep with so many others around?
Mrs. H.: It’s an old wives tale that babies need quiet to sleep. Babies sleep when they are tired no matter who or what is around or happening. Adults have become conditioned to be annoyed by sound or light when they sleep, but this is not so for babies.
Q: What kind of exercise will be offered for babies?
Mrs. H.: We use play to exercise both large and small muscles. For instance we use singing rhymes to develop body animation; and we play patty cake and one potato, two potato to develop coordination. We also practice infant yoga for gross motor activity and take stroller rides around the playground for fresh air and sunshine.
Q: Will you help babies learn to speak?
Mrs. H.: Absolutely! The best way for babies to learn and engage in language is to hear lots of it. We read, read, read! We also sing, clap, and make rhythmic sounds. And then, because we can’t help ourselves, we look right into your baby’s bright, shinning eyes and talk very slowly so that they see the shape of our mouths when we talk!
Q: What will you do about teething babies?
Mrs. H.: Teething is always happening. It’s a natural part of development. Parents may provide teething rings. JJ provides cool, damp washcloths, which babies love, as a method of soothing teething babies. In addition, we are happy to use creams or ointments provided by a parent if we have a completed Medical Care Request Form on file.
Q: You say JJ uses cloth diapers. Why?
Mrs. H.: First, there is no product made that is softer than cloth diapers. In addition, they are environmentally progressive! Cloth diapers “breathe,” giving ventilation to the child’s skin. Unlike disposable diapers, cloth diapers cannot hold repeated wettings, so you can be assured that your baby will be given a fresh diaper every single time they need changing. We also use a local baby diaper service, ensuring an abundant supply of comfy, sanitized diapers.
Q: One of your school philosophies is incorporating Signing Exact English (SEE). Is this sign language used with babies?
Mrs. H.: Yes! With babies we use simple signs that mean specific words and actions that will help the young child to start to communicate even before they can speak. For example, a few of the beginning words would be: mommy, daddy, more, eat, happy, sad, cry. We prepare for signing with young babies by developing strong eye contact. As early as four to five months babies have “found” their hands and can start copying visual cues, or signs.
Q: What is your philosophy of discipline for infants?
Mrs. H.: Discipline and baby should not be in the same sentence! TLC is the best “guidance” for a baby!
Q: Junior Junction could be the first children’s group setting a baby will attend. What can you say to assure parents that their child really will be safe?
Mrs. H.: We are a group of professionals, a state licensed facility, with safety policies and regular safety drills. We are very proud of our standard of service, and at every juncture we exceed Washington State licensing requirements. That’s what I personally wanted for my own children when they were young, and that is what Junior Junction offers for yours.
Q: Do you have suggestions for how the parent of a young baby should prepare them to go to the nursery?
Mrs. H.: Talk to your baby! Be delighted and talk about all the fun things they will do and how much their two caregivers truly adore them. As you know, if you verbalize to your child, they will derive confidence from your tone of voice and, at the same time, learn the story of what they are doing and why they are doing it. For instance, you might call it their job for the family to go to the nursery and learn all sorts of wonderful games to play with mommy and daddy!
Q: What can you say to parents to help them deal with their separation anxiety and guilt?
Mrs. H.: Those are real feelings that demonstrate what a loving parent you are. Be understanding of yourself, but know also that your baby is safe. We are thankful and proud to care for your child, and you can rest assured that you have placed your baby in a trustworthy environment.
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