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Designing an Infant Daily Schedule for Daycare
An infant daycare schedule is essential for helping young children understand the concept of time, internalize, and feel more secure in their new world. When the program is predictable, consistent, and responsive, infants can know what to expect at the daycare, boosting their confidence in themselves and this new environment.
Furthermore, a consistent routine keeps your employees organized and at ease and fosters productive teaching and learning. As a result, many states require a written infant daycare schedule.
If you’re wondering where to start with creating a daily schedule for a group of infants, each on a different routine, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.
Why You Need a Daily Daycare Schedule
A daily schedule ensures that activities happen at around the same time and in a similar way every day. This consistency brings about several benefits, including:
- Ensuring you have enough staff members to satisfy the recommended child-to-staff ratios. It also provides these staff members an understanding of their roles and the resources they need each day. Additionally, with schedules in place, caregivers are clear on the activities to plan for every age group and how to supervise the children effectively. They can also give input on whether a specific child needs individualized care.
- Reliable daycare routines help children learn independence and grow into their own patterns because they know exactly what to expect at different points of their day. The predictability also furnishes them with a sense of comfort, security and encourages emotional stability.
- We can’t ignore the fact that knowing what’s next eliminates unknowns for the young ones and makes it easier for them to transition between different activities. It’s also a definite way to take away pressure and anxiety, making kids more confident and comfortable in their environment.
- Stable and reliable routines will make the child more trusting and promote a sense of attachment with their caregiver.
- A daily schedule is a critical part of the infant and toddler’s curriculum in which learning and development take place. This is mainly because schedules are full of learning opportunities, such as washing their hands after using the washroom or brushing their teeth after meals.
Daycare Schedules for Infants
Daily infant daycare schedules are designed for babies aged 6 weeks to 18 months. They need to be flexible and should be based on their biological clocks. This is because infants, unlike toddlers and preschoolers, are still unable to regulate their bodies and needs, let alone accommodate a rigid group schedule.
Thus, infant daycare scheduling should accommodate diapering, feeding, and sleeping when a child needs them rather than when the schedule states. Flexibility is also essential because infants have different need levels.
They also need to be guided and supported by parents who need to take a front-row seat and help the children transition between different experiences and environments. A consistent routine allows daycare instructors to monitor children’s progress and coordinate with parents on daily schedules.
The daily routines must flow consistently and in a way that allows the young ones to focus on play and learning. The children must also be given room to explore and practice what they learn and a chance to build confidence in their abilities.
Several benchmark behaviors or milestones should inform your schedule. Here are some of the main ones.
Physical Development Milestones
Play is praised for being a great way to help children develop fine motor skills. But that is not all. Other routines, like feeding, diapering, toileting, resting, and sleeping, offer multiple opportunities to support infant physical growth and development.
Watching infants do things helps caregivers learn about their needs and strengths and play a significant role in helping develop responsive routines.
Here are some physical developmental milestones to look out for:
- By 4 months, babies should be able to hold up their heads without your support, reach for toys, and roll over.
- By 9 months, infants should sit up unsupported, pull themselves to a standing position, and start to crawl.
- Between 1 year and 18 months, they start walking, standing, and have more coordinated movements.
Social/Emotional Development Milestones
Routines foster stability and comfort the young ones feel towards their environment and their caregiver and provide them with a platform to address any needs and issues that come up.
Playtime and mealtime are the most social routines for children. They can teach them how to talk, take turns, share toys, learn to wait, and help others. One-on-one exchanges during diaper changing times are also great for healthy social and emotional development because the interactions involve undivided attention, eye contact, and smiling.
You can look out for the following signs to determine whether the kids in your infant room are gaining social and emotional skills as they should.
- At 4 months, most infants can recognize faces, return smiles, and imitate facial expressions.
- At 9 months, infants start exhibiting signs of separation anxiety, show preferences for favorite toys, and play “peek-a-boo.”
- Between 1 year and 18 months, babies start to show their emotions, such as fear and shyness.
Language Development Milestones
Routines offer an ideal chance to communicate with young children, which helps to develop their communication skills. Caregivers can help infants achieve language development milestones by guiding them through routines, explaining experiences, and reviewing a sequence of events with songs and conversations.
For instance, telling the child what you are about to do, “I’m going to change your diaper, OK?’ could help them interpret what’s about to happen, and soon they’ll know what to say or do before a diaper change.
Some language development milestones include:
- At around 4 months, babies start to babble and imitate sounds.
- At 9 months, they can understand sounds and start copying sounds and gestures.
- Between 1 year and 18 months, they have a few words and can repeat some words.
Effective routines also ensure children can anticipate changes and help reduce behavioral challenges, like tantrums, screaming, and hitting.
Guidelines for Designing Your Infant Daily Schedule
The best infant daycare schedule is responsive, meaning it corresponds to each infant’s changing needs. Generally, it keeps a child’s interests central to ensure it best supports early learning and doesn’t cause undue tension for teachers or stress for the babies.
It’s necessary to balance learning time and playtime to ensure the infants learn the most from their surrounding environment.
You should keep the following things in mind when designing your ultimate infant daycare schedule template:
Arrival time: This is the first transition of the day for the babies. To ensure it flows smoothly, caregivers and parents must cooperate. It is the best time to discuss the infant’s night before, concerns, and any necessary special adjustments that should be made by either the parent or the caregiver.
Schedule age-appropriate activities: These will help to move each child towards their next development stage. The activities should include play and learning opportunities and should interchange between group and solo play.
Naps: You need to block out time for one or more naps per day within the schedule. The naps should correspond to an infant’s home napping schedule; thus, the daycare schedule should make time for naps of differing frequencies and durations.
Diapering: Generally, child care centers schedule diaper changes every two hours, translating into 3-4 diaper changes. The changes could be more frequent if requested by a parent or if a child has special needs.
Mealtimes: Because infants have a long list of things they may or may not eat, it’s best to consult with their parents before setting schedules. You will also need to ensure the routine is flexible and can accommodate different feeding frequencies and times.
Infant Daily Schedule Example
7:00 – 8:00 a.m
Arrival and breakfast
8:00 – 8:30 a.m
8:30 – 9:00 a.m
- Sing songs
- Enjoy storytime
- Play with puppets
9:00 – 10:00 a.m
10:00 – 11:00 a.m
Prep for nap
- Bottle/morning snack
- Diaper change
11:00 a.m – 12:30 p.m
12:30 – 1:30 p.m
Lunch and sensory play
1:30 – 2:30 p.m
- Gross motor
2:30 – 4:00 p.m
4:00 – 5:00 p.m
- Language and Communication Activity (storytime, reading together, musical games)
- Social and Emotional Activity (messy play, clean up, puppet games)
- Cognitive and General Knowledge Activity (sing-alongs, mindful walking, hiding, and finding objects)
5:00 – 6:00 p.m
- Free play
- Transition to closing rooms
- Check out
Don’t Neglect Your Routines!
Infant daycare schedules are essential for many reasons, among them helping children develop a sense of independence, security, and comfort while at the daycare. The routines also help ensure caregivers are relaxed because they’ll always be at the right place, at the right time, and doing the right things.
Wonderschool is a reliable partner that helps parents find the best child care fit for their family. We are a child-centered organization that focuses on creating the best environments and experiences for children.
If you are looking for an infant daycare with a responsive and consistent schedule, look no further. Start your search today by keying in your location and other filters, including your child’s age and the program type, to select the best daycare program for your baby.