Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Under 3s – Care-giving Routines

Kathleen Tuite


Tuesday 18 September 2018

Now that we are moving into the third week of September, we want to focus on care routines for young children. In early childhood care and education settings, care routines form an important part of the young child’s day. These are busy periods for educators, attending to nappy changes, sleep requirements and mealtimes, but also important times to nurture interactions. Aistear reminds us that ‘Care-giving routines are repeated, predictable moments in a child’s life around bodily functions such as nappy-changing, sleep-times and meal-times’. 

Successful care routines involve the educator communicating with a nice tone of voice, explaining to the child what they are going to do. For instance, ‘Eva, I am going to change your nappy’, then waiting for a response from the child. In many cases, for very young children, this response may be indicated through a smile, hands up to be lifted and a desire to go with the educator. Care routines are all about timing. Young children are often more willing to cooperate when educators are alert for moments when children are free – have finished playing or when there is a natural lull. This is a good opportunity to indicate to the child that it is time to change their nappy. While we are all aware that care routines must be carried out, we are also aware that a few minutes here and there ‘outside of the clock’, to go with the needs of the child is equally important! ‘Slowing the clock’ and focusing on the interaction throughout the care routine itself supports the child to adapt and enjoy the experience more.

Meal-times can be wonderful moments to nurture interactions with young children too! Naming your actions, e.g. 'I am going to get a snack ready for you (use the child/s name)' and involve the child/ren with little tasks – putting the spoons and beakers on the table. Have a snack with them, and put words on what they are doing, such as ‘Eva you are having a big drink’! Use this time of day to extend language by naming your own actions and those of the children. No need to rush, be mindful that some children are slower to eat and enjoy exploring their food too! Time spent with the child/ren in an unhurried way, smiling, and giving undivided attention lets them know you value being with them. You also get to know them well by watching for their reactions and responding to their cues for support. When a child indicates that they are finished, you can put words on it - ‘ah I see Jack you are finished!’ - and then checking what he would like to do next! All indicators of respectful interactions, which will help to build self-esteem in young children, letting them know they were seen or heard.

When it comes to sleep routines, all the above are important too, as is hearing from parents about the child’s preferences! On a recent visit to a German kindergarten, I watched how toddlers were so active in preparing for their nap, having little mats on the floor to sit on, taking off their own shoes, socks, bibs, and outer clothes. All the time the educators named what the children were doing, and encouraged them to be independent, but staying with them, smiling and encouraging! Nurturing warm interactions as the toddlers waited with glee to hear a comment when they had taken off a sock, stretching it across their little foot, until it pulled off with a jerk. Again, I watched with interest how the educators slowly re-introduced the toddler back to the group when they woke up from their nap. No rush, easing the child back slowly, all at the child’s pace, but also completing all the parts of the care routine. In Ireland, I have also observed warm, loving interactions during care routines, where educators were alert and responsive to the child’s cues for support and encouragement.

As we enter the third week of September there will be many opportunities throughout the year to nurture interactions with young children. For more information on nurturing interactions look to the Aistear Siolta Practice Guide


Kathleen Tuite holds an MA in Early Childhood Studies and works for Early Childhood Ireland as an Early Childhood Specialist. Kathleen’s work includes offering advice, support and mentoring to Early Years Educators, teachers and students. Using the National Frameworks, Kathleen offers training across all areas of Early Years Practice and last year became a Marte Meo Colleague Trainer.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Leadership(1) Limerick(1) Favouritism(1) risky play(2) Supernanny(1) E.coli(1) reading(5) Challenges(1) grandchild(1) Wrapping paper(1) Exploring(1) Degree(1) Exit interview(1) Death(2) Seas Suas(1) eating(1) journey(1) Reflective Practice(1) Care-giving routines(1) babies(7) Leprechauns(1) Margy Whalley(1) Inter-generational(2) routine(2) Staff Motivation(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Touch(1) Window(1) Interactions(2) play(32) Leargas(1) Engineers Week(2) CCTV(1) Reggio(1) dining(1) Children and families(1) Japan(1) Mealtimes(1) Recycle(1) Wesco(1) dublin(2) Affordability(1) Budget 2019(2) Self Help Skills(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) University(1) Plastic(1) Siolta blog(4) Our Little Seed(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Family(1) Síolta QAP(1) Relaxation(1) Winter(1) Inspections(1) Diversity(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Games(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) pets(1) Training(2) Prexit(1) Children's Rights(3) Gratitude(1) Positivity(1) learning(19) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) refugees(1) Quality(4) Irish(1) value(1) AIM(2) Trigonometry(1) preschool(2) Kids Own(1) UNCRC(1) Workplace well-being(1) Obesity(1) Penguins(1) Bereavement(2) Wilenski(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Traditions(2) Playdough(1) AsIAm(1) Arithmetic(1) educating(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Confidence(1) Photographs(1) feisty(1) Engagement(1) community(5) Sleep(1) child-centred approach(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Awards 2018(3) Sweets(1) Jenga(1) NCCA(3) planning(1) Settling in(4) Gardening(1) DES Inspection(1) Oireachtas(1) Thank you(1) Exercise(1) curiosity(3) Breathing(2) Thanks(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Culture(2) Xbox(1) Celebrate(1) School Age Childcare(1) GDPR(1) STEM(3) Titles(1) dining experiences(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Rising to the Challenge(2) Maths(5) Reggio Emilia(1) UD(1) science week(2) PIP(1) Workplace Relations(3) Qualifications(1) Scents(1) Body Language(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Sequins(1) Visitors(1) Snacks(1) maternity health(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Trick or treat(1) Party(1) Anxiety(2) Meal time(1) Investment(2) Giraffe(2) Self-regulation(1) National Awards 2019(1) Maynooth(1) Trade Unions(1) Craft(1) Mental Health(3) Laugh(1) ICBN(1) Laughter(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Independence(1) Albert Einstein(1) ERASMUS+(3) Sport(1) risk(2) Appreciation(1) Frustrations(1) Celebrations(4) Mo Scéal(1) toddlers(3) under 3's(3) role playing(1) MECPI(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Creativity(4) Sculptures(1) Policy(2) Book Review(1) parents(5) Motor neuron disease(1) Art(6) Time Out(1) Participation(2) United Nations(1) Learning Stories Award(3) documentation(3) Engineering(3) Blocks(1) Yoga(1) Summer(1) friendships(1) Fee Play(1) Early Years(1) CIT(1) Belonging(3) National Pyjama Day(1) conversations(1) dogs(1) Treasure(1) Dance(1) ReCreate(2) ECEC(1) Interaction(1) Story(1) relationships(17) Facebook(1) risk assessment(1) Reggio Children Network(1) budget(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Wendy Lee(3) mushrooms(1) Well-Being(9) Socioemotional development(1) Children's Research Network(1) Twitter(1) San Minia(1) RTE Investigates(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) National Holiday(1) DCYA(4) Scéalta Blog(91) Growing up Outdoors(1) The Jelly King(1) TRAP(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Syria(1) Montessori(3) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Feeding(1) Cognitive development(1) Exclusion(1) Imagination(3) Advocacy(1) Care routines(1) Orla Kenny(1) purpose(1) San Miniato(4) Jillian van Turnhout(1) meals(3) Kilkenny(1) Visual Impairment(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Universal Design(2) early years research(1) EM Standing(1) Mud kitchens(1) Maths Week(1) Painting(1) Síolta(108) Horizon 2020(1) Storytelling(4) listen(1) Flowers(1) Nutrition(1) Early Years Educators(2) Childhood(1) Love(2) Mantra(1) Mark Twain(1) Leaders in Practice(1) linc(1) Mayo(1) Pobal(1) Impact(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Professionalisation(4) Snakes(1) Playschool(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Plants(1) Adoption(1) Sustainable(1) NAEYC(1) Interests(1) Administrative Burden(1) research(6) Mixed age groups(2) Maynooth University(1) Online(1) New Appointments(1) Research Seminar(1) trust(3) Decisions(1) Ceremony(1) Inspirational(2) Italy(1) Teamwork(1) Rich Documentation(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Department of Education and Skills(1) UN(1) Sustainability(3) Nonverbal(1) TOY Programme(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Identity(5) Fabric(1) Technology(3) communication(4) RIE philosphy(1) Queues(1) Magda Gerber(1) Map(1) Design(1) First 5(1) Stress(2) play stories(1) Kerry(1) outdoor play(6) Change(1) Communicating(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) food(1) transitions(10) Role play(1) Employee(1) Human Resources(1) Spiders(1) Graduate(1) Home Corner(1) Communications(1) Arlene Forster(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Shoes(1) Light table(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Document Learning(1) life long learning(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Self-Esteem(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Traffic Lights(1) Autism(3) Snack Time(1) Inter-generational learning(2) First 5 strategy(1) Book Club(2) Mount Everest(1) Learning journals(1) Smiles(1) Consent(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Recycling(2) Christmas Creativity(2) Digital(1) listening(1) Health(2) outdoors(3) Fantasy play(1) Elders(1) Children(3) Grief(1) HR(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Upcycling(1) bonds(1) experience(1) Maternity Leave(1) Budget 2018(1) animals(2) educarer(1) Valentine's Day(3) MA(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Iraq(1) Confident(1) outdoor space(3) Weather(1) Magic(1) Magnavacchi(1) Mindfulness(2) Event Guide(1) scéalta(29) IGL(1) Iceland(1) memories(1) CPD(1) Meet the Members(1) Santa(2) St. Patrick's Day(1) Glitter(2) Vertical grouping(1) development(8) Whole Group(1) Graduation(1) Arts(1) Awards 2019(1) Trade union(1) Halloween(2) overhear(1) Funding(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Pen green(1) Community involvement(1) early childhood educator(1) Buddy Bench(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Line-ups(1) science(3) respect(5) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Behaviour(3) Environment(2) curriculum(5) Awards(2) Growing up in Ireland(3) Hand Hygiene(1) Biting(1) Children's Voice(1) Competent(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) emotions(2) Budget 2020(1) College(1) Certificate(1) Malaguzzi(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Intention(1) Academics(1) Lego(2) Builders(1) blog(28) Shapes(1) Brain(1) Empathy(1) Performance Management(1) EECERA 2016(1) Inclusion(3) Building Resilience(1) INTO(1) Learning Story Awards(1) christmas(9) supportive environments(2) Patterns(1) Little Buddies(1) National Awards 2018(2) Eritrea(1) ECCE(6) Infectious diseases(1) worries(1) Time(1) Childcare(2) social media(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Annual Conference 2017(2) Research and Professional Learning(1) Capable(1) Digital Devices(1) Cork(1) Infection Control(1) Names(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Learning Stories(9) Easter(1) Family wall(1) emotional environment(1) Masterclass(2) Drawing(2) interacting(2) stories(2) Early Learning and Care(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Creative(1) baby room(1) collaboration(1) Loss(1) Wonder(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Support(1) Primary School(2) Child mental health(1) Study Trip(1) Thinking(1) Performing(1) Learning Journal(1) books(4) ears(1) Maria Montessori(1) Educators(1) Tuscan Approach(2) European Project(1) Through the looking glass(1) Rituals(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Learning Story(1) Treasure Chest(1) Mathematicians(1) Afghanistan(1) Decision Making(1) SPICE Framework(1) Vietnam(1) Academic Skills(1) Routines(1) Music(3) education(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) Social Skills(1) Running(1) Workforce(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Norway(2) environments(1) Aistear(113) Potential(1) story time(2) Sociodramatic play(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Buddies(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine