Caring for Children

Would you apply for this job?

    Lifelong

  • Work or be on call 24 hours a day.
  • Accept full responsibility for everything that happens.
  • Give up a good deal of sleep, personal time, and freedom.
  • Promise that you will do this job for a lifetime.
  • Benefits may include unconditional love, joy, and a deep feeling of satisfaction.
  • Do it all for no paycheck. In fact, this job will cost you money.

   Many new parents are surprised to find how demanding parenthood can be in terms of time, energy, and money. Parents often have to make adjustments or give up their personal desires in order to provide for their children.

  Parents are responsible for providing a safe,  loving, and educational environment for their children. They must fulfill a child's physical needs as well as provide emotional support.

Children's Needs

  • Physical Needs All children have basic physical needs. They need healthful food, appropriate clothing, rest and sleep, and a safe environment. Infant express their needs by crying. Crying is their way of telling you they are hungry, wet, tired, frightened, ill or unhappy. As children get older, they are better able to use words and sentences to express their needs.
  • Intellectual Needs Children have intellectual needs, too. They need a stimulating, or interesting and exciting, environment and opportunities to explore. Read books out loud to children. Help a child play with puzzles and blocks. Offers toys or other safe objects, such as a wooden spoon and a plastic bowl, to experiment with. All of these activities can help children develop intellectual abilities.
  • Emotional and Social Needs Children need to be held cuddled, and comforted. Sometimes a kiss, a hug, or a gentle pat is all children need to be reassured that someone cares. Children are very sensitive to your feelings about them. Speak kindly to them. They can tell by the way you touch, hold, and talk to them that they are loved. In turn, children learn how to make friends, how to love, and how to interact with other people.

Child Abuse and Neglect

Hundreds of thousand of  children become the victims of child abuse and neglect each year. Child abuse means physical emotional, or sexual injury to children. Child neglect is failure to meet a child's physical and emotional needs. People who leave young children alone or do not provide adequate food or medical attention are guilty of neglect. Many abused and neglected children are the victims of their own parents. Some children suffer from both abuse and neglect.

Abuse and neglect occur in families from all income levels and racial and ethnic groups. Many victims suffer silently. They may have been threatened by their abusers with harm if they tell someone. Victims often feel guilty, even though neglect tend to occur again and again.

Why would someone injure a child? Adults who lose their tempers can inflict serious, life-threatening injuries on infants and children. The abuse may expect to much of a child. He or she may not be able to cope with personal problems. In some cases, substance abuse is all so involved. Substance abuse is the overindulgence in or dependence on addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs.

In others cases, parents or caregivers may incorrectly think they are helping to teach the child right from wrong. Often times the abusers were abused or neglected as children. The emotional and physical damage that was done to them may cause them to do the same thing to their own children. It is never acceptable to hurt a child, no matter what the reason.

When a child does not receive basic food, clothing, shelter, or health care, he or she is the victim of neglect. Families under financial or emotional stress should seek help from agencies, friends, or extended family members.

Prevent Abuse and Neglect

Abuse is very serious. If you ever suspect a child has been abused or neglected, tell a trusted adult. You can even make an anonymous report to a child protective services agency. If you think a child is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. State child protective agencies require a social caseworker to investigate each report. In addition, early childhood professions, health care providers, and teachers are required by law to report child abuse and neglect.

To help prevent abuse, a child should never be left with someone who is not reliable. Relatives, neighbors, and friends can often provide help in times of need. Several helpful groups exist to provide parenting support, including parenting courses. some communities even have crisis nurseries where parents can leave their children are occupied with activities, parents support each other as they learn new parenting skills and attitudes.

Child abuse is illegal and should never be hidden. All types of abuse and neglect heave lasting effects on children. The longer abuse continues, the more serious the problem becomes. There is no prescribed treatment for child abusers. Counseling and parenting courses can help abuse face their problems. However, a good support system is always necessary. You can get more information about child abuse and its prevention from groups such as the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse. Lists of agencies, organizations, and law that provide help for victims of child abuse and neglect in your area can be found in telephone directions and online.

Infants

A newborn baby, eats every few hours. Baby's sleep 16 to 20 hours each day. As they gets older, baby's will stay awake longer and eat less often. In the first few mounts, parents will develop a schedule so that they can learn to have regular times for eating, bathing, sleeping and playing.

Baby's will have many developmental tasks to learn, such as how to eat, sit alone, pick up objects, and crawl. Baby's will learn how to play with toys and be comfortable with different people and places. Baby's will also need a great deal of love and attention.

Infant Milestones (Birth to 1 year of age)

  • Coos and laughs (Birth to 6 months)
  • Grasps at rattle (2 months)
  • Smiles (2 months)
  • Puts objects in mouth (2 months)
  • Rolls over (3 to 6 months)
  • Sit up alone (4 to 6 months)
  • Says single words (6 to 12 months)
  • Crawls (7 to 9 months)
  • Pulls self up (9 to 12 months)
  • Plays peek-a-boo (10 to 12 months)

Toddlers

Toddlers are children who are one to tree years old. The name comes from the unsteady way they walk, or toddle. Toddlers are full of energy and ideas. At birth, a child's brain is about 25 percent of its approximate adult weight. By age three, a child's brain has reached almost 90 percent of its size.

They are leaning to be more independent by doing tasks for themselves and by being less dependent on the people who care for them. As a part of this new independent, they often use the word "no." Toddlers can come to the table for meals when called, eat food without being encouraged, and follow safety rules such as not touching something hot.

Toddler Milestones (1 to 3 years of age)

  • Walk
  • Learns the meaning of "No"
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Feeds self with spoon
  • Identifies pictures
  • Climbs stairs
  • Undresses self
  • Plays beside others
  • Puts words into sentences
  • Begins toilet learning   

Preschoolers

Preschoolers are children who are three to five years old. Preschoolers interact more with their playmates and like to play with children of all ages. They like to talk. Preschool children may carry on a conversation with make-believe playmates. They might imitate their heroes or pretend to superhuman.

Preschool Milestones (3 to 5 years of age)

  • Opens doors  
  • Dresses self
  • Recognizes colors
  • Rides a tricycle
  • Repeats rhymes and songs
  • Brushes teeth Speaks in sentences
  • Begins cooperative play

Children with Special Needs

Some children have special needs. Like walk with a leg brace, wears a hearing aid, has emotional problems. Each of these children has particular special need, yet what they need most is to learn how to develop their abilities and enjoy life. For example, they need to learn to be as independent as possible, and they need encouragement to develop a positive self-concept. The attitudes of people around them are important in making this possible.  


How Children Learn

   Young Children learn from exploring their environment through the five senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Children learn something from everyone and everything around them, including toys. Their first toys help develop their coordination, or movement. Other toys help children grow, activities and toys can help them improve their intellectual abilities.

  Young children also learn when they practice tasks over and over again. They learn when they observe and imitate others, and explore their environment. Everywhere a child is taken is a learning opportunity. Whether it is an aquarium, zoo, museum, garden, the neighbor's house, or a music festival, all of the senses are affected.

Learning Through Play

Although every child is unique, most children go through a similar pattern of growth and development. As an older brother or sister, or as a babysitter, you can help children learn and discover new things by interacting with them. Show children that you are interested in them and that what they say and do matters to you. Children at every stage of development can benefit from playing with parents, caregivers, siblings, and other children. Playtime helps them develop motor skills, which is the development of their muscles, as well as their emotional, social and intellectual skills.

Infant Playtime

Babies like it when someone plays with them. They enjoys being moved from place to place so they can look at new sights. A walk outside of to the grocery store is very interesting to them. Babies do not like to play with one toy for very long. Babies have a very short attention span. This means that toys and other objects hold babies interest for only a short amount of time.

When infants discover their hands and can hold a toy, play becomes more important to them. They gradually learn to pick up toys and hold them. It is natural for infants to play happily, first picking up one toy, then another. Playing with toys is one way babies learn about to world around them.

Infants who play alone and show little interest in interacting with other children are engaging in independent play. Infants play with their hand, toes, toys, or other objects. Toys are easy to pick up and hold with tiny fingers are best for first toys. Infants like toys that pleasant to touch, see, and chew on. Musical toys, squeeze toys, and stacking and and nesting blocks are good toys for infants. Even small kitchen items, such as plastic measuring cups and spoons, or pots and pans, can entertaining toys.

Toddler Playtime

Toddlers need to play to develop their minds, bodies, and social skills. Toddlers are curious about everything and spend much of their time exploring. They pull out various toys, look them over, and go on to something else. Most toddlers play alone or watch others play. They engage in parallel play, which is play that occurs next to another child instead of with another child. They are just beginning to learn to share toys with others.

Toddlers need toys for both active and quiet play. Their toys should help them develop socially and physically. The toys you chose for toddlers should also help them think and use their imagination. Toddlers like toys that move.

However, save to jack-in-the-box for older children. Toys with too much noise or movement can frighten a toddler. Riding toys and balls help toddlers develop skill and coordination. Toy cars, bulldozers, and airplanes stimulate their imagination.

Preschooler Playtime

Preschoolers play together with one or two other children and share toys. This is called cooperative play. As they get older, they enjoy playing with other children, especially those their own age. The benefits of playtime for preschoolers include learning how to take turns, share with others, and get along with a group. These skills will become more important and necessary as children get older.

As children develop, their interests slowly start to change. New toys help keep pace with their natural development. Preschoolers are increasing their motor skills and using their imaginations. Preschoolers enjoy action toys that encourage physical exercise, such as tricycles and climbing equipment. Toys for pretend play include briefcases, dress-up clothes, and nontoxic art materials.

Keeping Children Safe

Safety should be a top priority for every person who cares for a child. Accidents and injuries can have tragic results. However, most can be avoided by paying attention and by taking some simple steps to avoid common hazards. Young children do not understand the dangers that surround them. In their eagerness to explore, they can easily hurt themselves by playing with a dangerous objects or substance. Families with a child or children need to make their homes childproof. A childproof home is a safe environment where children can play and explore. A good way to identify hazard is to explore on your hands and knees. At that level, which is the level of a young child, it is easier to see potential dangers that you might not spot otherwise.

Even if a home has been childproofed, you still need to watch children carefully to make sure that they are safe. Infants will put just about anything in their mouths. It is extremely important that you make sure anything small enough to be swallowed is kept out of reach. If an object can fit in or through a roll that holds paper towels, it is to small for children under four years old.

It is very important to monitor young children at all times. Monitor means to watch carefully over someone or something. You may be surprised by how quickly toddlers can get themselves into new and sometimes dangerous situations. Toddlers are adventurous. They do not know yet what it means to be careful. It is up to caregivers to keep busy toddlers out of danger. Preschoolers are just starting to learn what it means to be careful. However, they are just as likely as toddlers to get into dangerous situations. Preschoolers need constant reminders to be careful.

Intruders

Keeping children safe involves more than childproofing the child's living area. It also means protecting children, and yourself, from intruders. An intruder is someone who uses force to get into a home.

Caregivers need to take the following precautions:

  • Make sure that all doors and windows are locked.
  • Do not open the door for strangers.
  • Do not let callers know that you are alone with the children.
  • Call a neighbor, another trusted adult, or 9-1-1 if a stranger does not go away.

Prevent Accidents

When caring for young children, you need to take precautions to prevent accidents. Some common accidents are falls, injuries, fires, and poisoning. It is a very good idea to take a first-aid course. Some parents will only hire caregivers and babysitters who know basic first aid. Small cuts, scrapes, contact with common poisonous plants, and nosebleeds are minor injuries that can be treated with first aid.

If a child gets hurt and requires emergency care, stay calm and call for help. A broken bone, serious bleeding, and burns require emergency care. Insect stings and animal bites can be very dangerous, too. Call the child's parents, a neighbor, or dial 9-1-1 for help.

Falls and Injuries

Falls are the leading cause of accidental deaths in the home in the United States. When caring for children, follow these guidelines to help prevent falls and other common injuries:

  • Never leave an infant alone on a changing table, sofa, or bed. The infant may roll over and fall off.
  • Make sure all stairways are blocked with safety gates.
  • Restrict, or limit, crawling infants and toddlers only to places they have explode safely.
  • Never leave a child alone in or near a bathtub or pool.
  • Keep children away from electrical wires and outlets.
  • Remove all breakable or dangerous objects.
  • Make sure that toys are age-appropriate and free of loose parts.
  • Do not allow plastic bags near children. Plastic bags can cover their mouths or noses and lead to suffocation.
  • Keep knives and other sharp objects away from children.
  • Always watch children to keep them from running into the street.
  • Children should always ride in a properly installed child car seat.
  • Never leave children alone in a car or a home.    

Fires

Fires are the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Follow these guidelines to help prevent fires in the home:

  • Be sure that there are smoke alarms on every floor of the home.
  • When cooking, avoid wearing clothing with long, full sleeves.
  • Keep all matches and lighters away from children.
  • Turn pot and pan handles away from the edge stove,and keep the oven door closed.
  • Never allow a child to be alone in the cooking area.

If you smell smoke or see a fire while you are caring for children, get the children out safely first. then call the fire department (9-1-1) after you are safely away from the fire. Use a cell phone if you have one. If not, ask a neighbor to call. Do not try to put out the fire yourself.

Try not to panic if you are trapped by smoke or fire. Stay close to the floor. If you can, put a wet cloth over your nose and mouth and crawl to safety. If you cannot get out, close the door to the room and stuff wet towels around the cracks in the door. Call for help immediately.

Poisonings

Common sense is the best way to keep children away from dangerous household substances. All poisonous items should be kept in locked cabinets. If that is not possible, keep the items on a high shelf out of the reach of the children.

The first step to take if you suspect a child has been poisoned is to call 9-1-1 or the poison control center. Get this number before you start any babysitting job, and keep it near the phone. You can find the number of the nearest poison control center in the telephone book or by calling directory assistance.

Meal Time

Children between one and three years old are able to eat many of the foods that adults enjoy. However, they are still learning to proper way to eat, chew, and swallow. Make sure you feed the child food that the parents approve. Foods should be soft and cut into small pieces to avoid choking. Never leave a toddler unattended while they are eating. Be patient. Some young children eat very slowly, and they tend to be messy.

Toddlers can be introduced to new tastes and textures as they transition from baby food to “real” food. Keep in mind that toddlers have very small stomachs. It may be better to feed them 5-6 small meals a day, rather than three large ones.

Depending on age, size, and activity level, your toddler needs between 1,000-1,400 calories a day. It is perfectly normal for your child to be ravenous one day and shun food the next. Don’t worry if your child’s diet isn't up to par every day—as long as he or she seems satisfied and is getting a well-rounded diet.

Preschoolers are often picky eaters. Be sure to follow their parent's list of acceptable foods and snacks. Preschoolers have all of their teeth and are much more experienced with eating. However, they can still be messy. As with toddlers, be patient and keep an eye on the child while he or she is eating.

Healthy eating can stabilize children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods. While peer pressure and TV commercials for junk food can make getting kids to eat well seem impossible, there are steps parents can take to instill healthy eating habits without turning mealtimes into a battle zone. By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a huge impact on your children’s lifelong relationship with food and give them the best opportunity to grow into healthy, confident adults.

Tips to promote healthy childhood eating.

  • Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.
  • Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for kids about the importance of food. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar, and salt. Save dining out for special occasions.
  • Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adults to shop for groceries, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It's also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and (for older children) how to read food labels.
  • Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, chips, or cookies.
  • Limit portion sizes. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.
  •  Limiting sugar

    The American Heart Association recommends that sugar intake for children is limited to 3 teaspoons (12 grams) a day. Cutting back on candy and cookies is only part of the solution. Large amounts of added sugar can also be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, frozen dinners, ketchup, and fast food.

    • Don’t ban sweets entirely. Having a no sweets rule is an invitation for cravings and overindulging when given the chance.
    • Give recipes a makeover. Many recipes taste just as good with less sugar.
    • Avoid sugary drinks. One 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, more than three times the daily recommended limit for children! Try adding a splash of fruit juice to sparkling water instead.
    • Cut down on processed foods, such as white bread and cakes, which cause blood sugar to go up and down, and can leave kids tired and sapped of energy.
    • Create your own popsicle and frozen treats. Freeze 100% fruit juice in an ice-cube tray with plastic spoons as popsicle handles. Or try freezing grapes, berries, banana pieces, or peach slices, then topping with a little chocolate sauce or whipped cream for an amazing treat.  

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