Taking care of infants at a daycare requires diligence and a positive attitude. Babies need to have their basic needs met, such as feeding and diapering, but they also need plenty of stimulation and attention to aid in their development. Daycare providers can use many age-appropriate and fun activities to help babies of all ages blossom into happy, healthy children.
Infants delight in the sights, smells, sounds and feel of object and toys. Engage her senses by giving her toys and books that have different textures and sounds, such as fake fur fabric, bumps and ridges, and toys that make crinkly noises when touched. Help the baby rub her fingers across the textures and identify each one for her. Also, try using her foot to rub across the textures or rub it against her cheek. Hold the baby on your lap, facing outward, or place her securely in a bouncy chair and play music for her. Clap, snap your fingers, tap your toes and wiggle around to the beat. This activity stimulates her auditory and visual development. Playing Peek-a-Boo, making silly faces and reading vividly colored picture books to her are wonderful activities to stimulate her senses. Possibly the simplest of all activities to aid in sensory development of infants is to take them all for a walk in a stroller. Point out the different sights and sounds. Let the infant touch objects you walk by along the way, such as plants and trees.
Fine and Gross Motor Movement
Place the infant on the floor and put cushions of various sizes around her. Encourage her to explore the cushions by trying to pick them up or by crawling over them. Scatter soft blocks, toys and stuffed animals around her and entice her to reach for the objects. Lay her on her back under a Gymini mat and encourage her to reach up for the toys and rattles hanging from above. Also, lay her on her tummy on the mat to get a different view of things. According to Ohio State University Extension, having her lie on her tummy and dangling toys for her to look up at encourages stomach and neck muscle development as well as visual development. For an infant who is beginning to walk, hold her hands and help her walk across the floor. Assist her in walking behind a push toy or help her stand up at a small table. Other activities include letting her squeeze a modeling compound, rolling a ball back and forth to her, and giving her a basket full of small toys to dig and sift through.
Hand and Eye Coordination
At snack or lunch time, see if she can hold her own spoon or reach for finger foods, such as o-shaped cereal. Hold a teething biscuit or teething ring a short distance away from her, encouraging her to reach for it and put it in her mouth. Fill small containers with rice or oatmeal, and let her sink her hands into them, providing her with empty containers to dump the material into with her hand or a spoon. Always closely supervise activities that might lead to her putting something in her mouth. Stack blocks or small boxes. Show her how much fun it is to remove them one by one, or to knock them all over at once. Another fun activity to encourage hand-eye coordination is to give her empty cups and wooden spoons to bang on and play with.