Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Settling Babies

By: MAIRE CORBETT

Tuesday 09 July 2019

Sometimes we hear of people describing childcare as ‘leaving a baby with strangers.’ This always makes me sad. By the time a baby is spending a full day in the setting, ideally, the relationship between the baby, the educator and the parent should be well past being strangers.

The process of settling in, in my view, is as much about parents and educators getting to know each other as it is about the baby settling in. Of course, forms asking parents to describe a baby’s preferences and daily routine can be very useful and important to have recorded, but I think nothing beats the parent(s)/ guardian sitting on the floor with the baby and educator chatting, modelling preferred ways of being, comforting and tuning in. In these moments you are sowing those vital seeds of connection that begin to build relationships.  That three-way linking is really important, and we all know that relationships need trust to thrive. The foundations of that trust is built in those early days: the parents come to realise that they can trust the educator to love their child, to want what’s best for them; as an educator, you get to know what these parents expect and want for their child; and for the precious baby. It’s win/win… these people love me, they like each other, I’ll be fine here.

Of course, this has to be planned for. In these first days and weeks it is important that:

There are only one or two babies settling in at one time, and as much as possible, the times they are present in the baby room are staggered. This helps keep the environment calm, peaceful and centred on the family getting familiar with the setting and the baby room and the people there.

It’s important to have a key-person approach in place and explain this to the parents, so they know who their baby’s key person is. In some settings a key-person is described as a family worker, as the role is as much about being with the parents and not just working with the baby. Care needs to be taken, in assigning a key-person, that the educator assigned to a family is present for the periods of time the family is settling in.

Encourage the parents to bring a transitional object, something from home to ease the transition. This can be a toy, a blanket, even a suitable bracelet or scarf belonging to one parent. This object travels from home to setting and back and gives a sense of security and continuity to the baby.

The process takes more that a day or a few hours here and there. Some settings take up to two weeks and while this may not always be doable, the settling in period should be as long as possible, I suggest at least a week. During this time the parents stay in the room, sitting on the floor or in comfortable seating, playing with the baby and educators, chatting and getting to know each other, for an hour or so. Then the parent tells the baby they are popping out for a little while but will be back. If possible, there should be a comfortable room where the parent can go for a coffee for a short while and then pop back to the room. This period can be lengthened and extended to the parent leaving the setting for a short while, as the baby feels more comfortable.

If the baby gets upset and doesn’t settle quickly, call the parents back. The baby should not be allowed to get distressed. This adds to the stress and diminishes trust. Gradually build up the time the baby spends in the setting and remind parents that it is important they spend time in the room with the baby too, maybe at departure time. This applies to others collecting the baby too. It was lovely to see a grandad spending up to 30 minutes picking up his baby grandson one day in a setting I was visiting.

Building relationships with the other babies in the room is also important. And remember to introduce the new parents to other parents who may happen to be around. Make sure you have all their contact details. Make sure emergency numbers have not changed from enrolment.

Minimise transitions during the day. While a predictable routine gives a sense of security, this should not be too tied to specific times and must be baby-led. When a baby needs a sleep, put him/her in their cot and let them sleep. When the baby is hungry, that’s the time for a feed. The only transitions in the day should be arrival, play, feeding, nappy changing, sleep and home.

Sometimes, the time a baby spends in the baby room can be short. If a baby is 9 or 10 months old when they start in a setting and they move to a wobbler room at 12 months, it can be very unsettling for both the baby and their parents. Try to avoid this change so soon after a baby starts attending. If it really is unavoidable, then have the key-person make the move with the baby. This may mean a group of babies moving together, so the key-person has all their group together.

We know that love shapes brains. Aistear’s theme well-being says, ‘In partnership with adults, children will make strong attachments and develop warm and supportive relationships with family, peers and adults in out-of-home settings and in their community’. Having a strong, extended settling in period for babies and families is key to this goal.

 

Bio:

Máire Corbett works in the Communication and Development directorate of Early Childhood Ireland.  Her background is Montessori teaching and she has an MA in Integrated Provision for Children and Families, from the University of Leicester. She is passionate about supporting ELC practitioners to achieve the best outcomes for children.

1 comments Comments

One Response

  1. Denise Collins says:

    Love this Maire. We do exactly this. 2 weeks settling in and only 1 baby per month where possible to allow for the full phase. Most parents love it-they stay for 6 days..a few hours per day.. and we feel it also helps THEM transition..having had their baby with them for 9/10 months it’s huge for them too. They can see that the baby is happy

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

The Jelly King(1) Adoption(1) journey(1) Academics(1) Magic(1) Infection Control(1) Youtube Series(1) Learning Story(1) primary education(1) CCTV(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Belonging(3) refugees(1) Child Care(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Thank you(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Quality(4) emotions(2) RIE philosphy(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Mathematicians(1) gender stereotype(1) ReCreate(2) Research Conference 2019(1) Funding(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Fabric(1) Arlene Forster(1) Visual Impairment(1) Early Years Educators(3) Facebook(1) Workplace well-being(1) Halloween(2) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Pobal(1) Sessional service(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) awards 2020(1) outdoors(3) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) play therapy(1) E.coli(1) Mount Everest(1) early life(1) UN(1) Iceland(1) Research Seminar(1) budget(1) PIP(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Love(2) Pedagogy(1) curriculum(5) Fantasy play(1) books(4) relationships(17) Budget 2020(1) art of the relationship(1) reopening ireland(1) Mental Health(3) Leprechauns(1) Nutrition(1) june29(1) Sculptures(1) National Pyjama Day(1) STEM(3) Trade Unions(1) interacting(2) Early Years(1) Through the looking glass(1) Performing(1) scéalta(38) stories(3) animals(2) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) pablo(1) Winter(1) Inspirational(2) Meet the Members(1) social science(1) Spiders(1) Home Corner(1) TRAP(1) pets(1) Mantra(1) Sustainable(1) Employee(1) Sleep(1) Childhood(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Arts(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Painting(1) documentation(4) Trade union(1) Sweets(1) Xbox(1) GDPR(1) Twitter(1) Biting(1) Opportunities(1) Human Resources(1) dining(1) Potential(1) Scéalta Blog(99) Iraq(1) Yoga(1) Obesity(1) Socioemotional development(1) Certificate(1) Feeding(1) Stress(2) Exclusion(1) Seas Suas(1) Rich Documentation(1) Horizon 2020(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Frustrations(1) Norway(2) TOY Programme(1) Italy(1) Building Resilience(1) Gardening(1) Children and families(1) overhear(1) Games(1) Meal time(1) Communicating(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Investment(2) DES Inspection(1) Interaction(1) parents(6) First 5 strategy(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Margy Whalley(1) trust(4) Story(1) Aistear(122) Running(1) Jenga(1) Touch(1) Whole Group(1) collaboration(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) AsIAm(2) Budget 2018(1) blog(35) babies(7) Time(1) Death(2) Anxiety(2) research submissions(1) Learning Stories Award(3) aistear blog(3) toddlers(3) Traditions(2) Mo Scéal(1) Siolta blog(8) Christmas Creativity(2) Body Language(1) Glitter(2) reading(5) risk assessment(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Early Learning and Care(1) memories(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Book Club(2) code of ethics(1) Mixed age groups(2) communication(4) Exploring(1) Reggio Children Network(1) purpose(1) Mark Twain(1) baby room(1) UD(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Japan(1) CPD(1) community(5) NAEYC(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Child mental health(1) Celebrations(4) routine(2) dining experiences(1) Environment(2) Santa(2) Breathing(2) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Technology(3) child-centred approach(1) Line-ups(1) Photographs(1) iOS(1) Nonverbal(1) Prexit(1) worries(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) planning(1) Drawing(2) Well-Being(9) Culture(2) Primary School(2) Titles(1) Vertical grouping(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Behaviour(3) Exit interview(1) Favouritism(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Snack Time(1) Care-giving routines(1) Policy(2) Malaguzzi(1) children development(1) Qualifications(1) Communications(1) science(3) Maths Week(1) movement behaviours(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) child-centric(1) outdoor play(6) INTO(1) Blocks(1) Family(1) Plants(1) keep in touch(1) preschool(4) Lego(2) Leadership(1) United Nations(1) ears(1) Impact(1) Map(1) Buddy Bench(1) Craft(1) San Miniato(4) under 3's(3) Pen green(1) Síolta QAP(1) Independence(1) ERASMUS+(3) Maynooth University(2) Annual Conference 2019(1) Graduate(1) Childcare(3) Recycling(2) Orla Kenny(1) ICBN(1) Document Learning(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Laughter(1) University(1) ECEC Setting(2) Bereavement(2) CIT(1) UNCRC(2) Ceremony(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Inspections(1) Self-Esteem(1) Social Skills(1) Mayo(1) Magda Gerber(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) imotion(1) Change(1) Vietnam(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Graduation(1) Traffic Lights(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) early years research(2) ECCE(7) role playing(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Thanks(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Role play(1) bonds(1) Workplace Relations(3) Training(2) AIM(2) Mealtimes(1) Covid pandemic(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) racism(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) eating(1) SPICE Framework(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) College(1) First 5(1) Recycle(1) educarer(1) National Holiday(1) development(8) Treasure(1) Reopening Childcare(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Party(1) Music(3) Budget 2019(2) mushrooms(1) Snakes(1) Smiles(1) Learning journals(1) Relaxation(1) Community involvement(1) Teamwork(1) Positivity(1) Motor neuron disease(1) annual conference(1) Weather(1) phone apps(1) Snacks(1) Children(4) Fee Play(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) European Project(1) MA(1) Trick or treat(1) Digital Devices(1) Competent(1) RTE Investigates(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Supernanny(1) Autism(4) Confidence(1) Reflective Practice(1) Easter(1) friendships(1) Children's Voice(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) learners(1) Book Review(1) Inter-generational learning(2) InspireMe.ie(1) Professionalisation(5) Maths(5) Children's Research Network(1) Staff Motivation(1) Engagement(1) Awards Night(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) risky play(2) risk(2) christmas(9) HR(1) Kerry(1) Laugh(1) Mindfulness(2) Rituals(1) respect(5) healthy eating policies(1) Kids Own(1) Reggio(1) Wrapping paper(1) social media(1) Reading Time(1) National Awards 2019(1) Kilkenny(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Self-regulation(1) COVID-19(5) Children's Rights(3) Equality(1) environments(1) play pods(1) Visitors(1) Maria Montessori(1) Shapes(1) Learning Stories(9) Identity and Belonging(4) IGL(1) Little Buddies(1) New Appointments(1) Sustainability(3) Health(2) Awards 2018(3) Wesco(1) family time(1) Queues(1) youdoodle(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Identity(5) Elders(1) Wilenski(1) Digital(1) experience(1) Celebrate(1) Exercise(1) man up(1) Engineering(3) Interactions(2) lockdown(1) Diversity(1) childcare services(1) SAC(1) Engineering Ireland(1) bloom app(1) Wonder(1) Your place(1) feisty(1) Workforce(1) EECERA 2016(1) Affordability(1) Consent(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) National Awards 2018(2) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Mud kitchens(1) Self Help Skills(1) Engineers Week(2) Trigonometry(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Maternity Leave(1) science week(2) Magnavacchi(1) EM Standing(1) Limerick(1) supportive environments(2) Degree(1) DCYA(4) Light table(1) conversations(1) keezy(1) research(6) grandchild(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Syria(1) staying connected(1) Care routines(1) Empathy(1) Support(1) Wendy Lee(3) Leaders in Practice(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Cognitive development(1) Thinking(1) Event Guide(1) listen(1) learning(19) Cork(1) Interests(1) Leargas(1) Learning Journal(2) food(1) show and tell(1) learning bias(1) Oireachtas(1) Settling in(4) Advocacy(1) outdoor space(3) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) apps for children(1) Upcycling(1) Imagination(3) Summer(1) Covid19 crisis(1) early years learning(1) NCCA(3) Early Childhood Ireland(3) Treasure Chest(1) play stories(2) Creative(1) Irish(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Our Little Seed(1) Decisions(1) developing motor skills(1) story time(2) Window(1) Buddies(1) Administrative Burden(1) School Age Childcare(1) Builders(1) Pre-School Services(1) Arithmetic(1) Challenges(1) Patterns(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) transitions(10) Síolta(118) conference(1) Shoes(1) structure(1) Loss(1) ECEC(2) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Masterclass(2) MECPI(1) COVID-19 Reopening(1) Awards(2) Brain(1) Universal Design(2) life long learning(1) Academic Skills(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Awards 2019(1) Dance(1) linc(1) Design(1) early childhood educator(2) Universal Design Guidelines(1) play(34) Scents(1) Online(1) Confident(1) Penguins(1) maternity health(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) preschool settings(1) Routines(2) Capable(1) Decision Making(1) Infectious diseases(1) Giraffe(2) Performance Management(1) listening(1) Flowers(1) behavioural science(1) Grief(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Names(1) Albert Einstein(1) gender bias(1) curiosity(3) meals(3) play pod(1) Intention(1) Montessori(3) Plastic(1) Participation(2) Study Trip(1) dogs(1) Time Out(1) ELC(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) value(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) educating(1) education(2) continual professional development(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Sport(1) Sequins(1) Playschool(1) Eritrea(1) Storytelling(6) The Lullaby Book(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Gratitude(1) Valentine's Day(3) Inter-generational(2) Afghanistan(1) Art(6) Playdough(1) Appreciation(1) dublin(2) Hand Hygiene(2) Effect of Lockdown(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Creativity(4) Family wall(1) Educators(2) Growing up in Ireland(3) Inclusion(3) emotional environment(2) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Maynooth(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine