Caring for Babies & Young Children

iStock_000005771125_ExtraSmall-1Millions of older children throughout the world play a key role in caring for younger ones.

Informing, recognising and praising older children helps improve this care. Children can play games, cuddle, talk, show, laugh and sing to babies and young children.

Scroll down to read our Top Ten Messages on Caring for Babies and Young Children for children to learn and share, plus ideas on what children can do to understand, find out more, take action and reflect on this Topic.

Download our PDF for your copy of all the messages and how to get children started with learning and sharing.

  • MESSAGE ONE

    Play games, cuddle, talk, show, laugh and sing to babies and young children as much as you can.

    At birth, the brain contains millions of cells called NEURONS. These form links called SYNAPSES. Synapses help us think, talk, and feel. The brain makes the most number of synapses during the first three years of life!!! Activities like playing, talking, laughing and singing helps the brain develop stronger and faster and better. It also helps a child feel secure and loved.

    Find out more:

    • Older children can observe and listen to adults (men and women) caring for babies and young children.
    • What do they do? How and when do they do it? What is used for play? What more can be done to strengthen children’s brain? And when?
    • Ask a health worker or science teacher to tell you how the brain grows.

    Take action:

    In groups make a short play, acting out caregivers playing with children in the right way. One group plays out a dialogue between a mother who believes a young child should be kept quiet and another group who believes in playing!
    We can make a gourd baby to show how diarrhoea makes a baby lose water and show our families.

  • MESSAGE TWO

    Babies and young children become angry, afraid and tearful easily & can’t explain their feelings. Always be kind.

    Babies and young children cannot use words to tell us how they feel. They show their feelings by smiling, laughing, crying, shouting or becoming silent. But these signs can mean many things. A child who cries may be angry, afraid, upset or in pain. Respond by connecting with kindness. Talk to young children about feelings. Give the feelings names.

    Find out more:

    • Older children can make pictures of situations where different feelings are shown.
      • Can they guess what emotion the drawing represents?
      • Can children talk about the different feelings?
      • For more on this, read the ChildtoChild activity sheet on Understanding Children’s Feelings here: http://tinyurl.com/childrensfeelings
        Please note that when older children are in puberty (1216 years approximately), the brain goes through another BIG phase of development and children become less sensitive at reading emotions than they were eat a younger age! Children under 12 have more empathy than adolescents and can be better caregivers of young children for this reason.

    Take action:

    Children can mime/act out an emotion/feeling only with gestures and face expressions. The other children guess what the feeling or emotion is.

    Children can ask their parents and grandparents why and what makes babies cry and laugh. They can share with the class what they have found out.

  • MESSAGE THREE

    Young children learn fast: how to walk, make sounds, eat and drink. Help them but let them make safe mistakes too!

    Let babies and young children discover things for themselves in safe spaces: holding, chewing dropping clean objects (but not too small).

    When they do something wrong, show them the right way. Do not get angry. Respond with smiles, soft words and hugs. As babies grow play games to help them crawl, stand, walk and make sounds. Make everyday activities times to learn new things.

    Find out more:

    • Older children can ask the elderly in the community to teach them songs, stories and games and sing songs for babies and younger children.
    • Children and adults together can go out one day in the community to check the places where young children play and learn are safe (such as home, school, playground, play centre, etc.). They can make a plan to make them safer and try to involve the whole community. For more on this, read the ChildtoChild
      activity sheet on A Place to Play here: http://tinyurl.com/aplacetoplay

    Take action:

    Older children can:

    • Carry the baby around and tell them the names of objects.
    • Teach the baby to drink clean water from a clean cup.
    • Encourage the baby to feed him/herself with a spoon or with fingers even if it is messy. Make sure the fingers are clean.
    • Show the baby an animal and make the sound and encourage him/her to repeat those sounds.

  • MESSAGE FOUR

    All girls and all boys are as important as each other. Treat everyone well especially children who are sick or who have disabilities.

    In every community, some babies and children may have difficulties with talking, hearing, seeing, learning or moving. They may need extra or special help. Always be kind to them make sure they are included. Older children can create special play materials or spaces where all children can play. They can support children who have difficulty at school and help them learn and catch up with lessons.

    Find out more:

    • With a teacher or community worker children can help identify those children who are not going to school. Together they can find a solution to make sure these children are included.

    Take action:

    In a group, children can play a local game including all children. They can make changes to the games and rules if there are children who needs help to play, for example children who cannot walk or run.

    Boys can act out ‘girls games’ and girls can act out ‘boys games’. Then both groups can have a discussion using a question like this: Do you agree with the games being called BOYS or GIRLS games? Why? Why not?

    Children can make a play for the school or the community about all children being the same and having the same opportunities to go to school, play and grow healthy.

  • MESSAGE FIVE

    Young children copy the actions of those around them. Look after yourself, behave well near them and show them good ways.

    Young children copy people around them. When they are very young they won’t know the difference between good or bad behaviour. Older children who spend time with them are important ‘role models’. If you shout at children, they will learn that shouting is OK. A baby who is shouted at can become afraid and find it harder to take risks and learn new things.

    Find out more:

    • Children can discuss what good and bad behaviours are at home or in the school and why. They can make poster to show them or do a role play about this topic.

    Take action:

    Older children can play with babies. Whilst keeping eye contact with the baby they can make different sounds using different tones of voice: soft, loud, slow, fast. They can listen to the baby’s sounds and respond to them.

    Children and adults together can establish some rules of behaviours: at school, in class, at home, that everyone needs to respect both adults and children.

  • MESSAGE SIX

    When young children cry, there’s a reason (hunger, fear, pain). Try to find out why.

    Children respond to things that happen in different ways. One child left alone may be afraid. Another may be curious to explore the space around. Some children like animals whilst others are afraid. When a child is crying, get close and check the child is not ill. Change the setting or show him something.

    Find out more:

    • Children can draw pictures or write about the thing that scares them the most and discuss with teachers or family members.
    • Share stories on how a baby or young child can be comforted.

    Take action:

    Make up a scenario: for example, the mother is buying some fruit at the market when her little baby starts crying really loudly. Divide children into groups and ask each group to think of a reason the baby may cry and what the mother could do to sooth the child. Then each group acts out that scenario and discuss with the other children.

  • MESSAGE SEVEN

    Help prepare young children for learning at school by playing number and word games, painting or drawing. Tell them stories, sing songs and dance.

    Children can learn the basics of mathematics, reading and writing through playful activities before they go to school. Older children can have fun making picture books, play number and alphabet games with younger children.

    Find out more:

    • Children can share ideas on how they teach young children to count and say letters.

    Take action:

    Older children who go to school can share ‘what happened today’ with younger children at home.

    Children can organize ‘toy making competitions’ with their friends. Such as mobiles, rattles and building blocks, dolls and animals, picture books. The competition can be at home, run by community groups or in school.

  • MESSAGE EIGHT

    In a group, watch and record in a notebook how a baby grows into a toddler and when they do important ‘firsts’ like speak, walk & talk.

    A growth record helps you check that a child is developing well (or not!). It is fun and helpful to remember important moments. Older children can help create, fill in and colour the chart.

    Find out more:

    • Older children can find out from mothers and health workers what babies and children do at different stages of development and make a ‘map’ of development milestones.

    Take action:

    Make a chart to record baby’s growth and development in the first 24 months of his/her life.

    Here is how you can make one:

    1. Take a sheet of paper and put the baby’s name and the date they were born at the top;
    2. Mark the sheet into 24 sections and label each section with the name of a month, starting from the months when your baby was born;
    3. Each month write what the baby is doing, for example: in month 2 he smiled at me.

    In month 4 he first lifted his head to look; in month 9 he said ‘mama’. You can use the example below as a reference.

    At school, a class can ‘adopt a baby’ from the local community. The mother can come into the class every month or two to discuss with the children how the baby is growing.

  • MESSAGE NINE

    Prevent diseases by helping adults and older siblings to check that babies & young children are clean (especially hands and faces), drink safe water & eat enough good food.

    Children need to have a hygiene routine each day (e.g. wash their hands with soap at special times in the day, brush their teeth, clean fingers comb hair and wash their face and bath every day with soap and water). Teach them how and remind them all the time. These routines can be made fun with songs and older children can show the younger ones how to keep themselves clean.

    Find out more:

    • Children can ask adults what they think it is important to do to prevent babies from getting diseases.
    • Older children can ask people they know well what are the reasons why children in their community do not use soap, do not wash regularly etc. There are usually many reasons – not one.

    Take action:

    Children can make drawings and posters to show some of the things that need to be done to prevent diseases. They can attach these posters in school and in public spaces so that people in the community can see them.

    Older children can check that their younger children are clean and wear clean cloths.

    Children can make a song or songs to describe the actions necessary to prevent diseases (wash hands, take a bath, wear clean cloths, drink safe water…). They can sing them at home with their younger siblings.

  • MESSAGE TEN

    Give loving care to babies & young children but don’t forget about yourself. You are important too!

    Caring for young children requires a lot of energy and time in addition to carrying out other daily duties. Older children have to go to school, study and play. It helps for adult and child caregivers to discuss and share experiences and this can be done in a special group. When caregivers feel supported and feel happy, babies will be happy too.

    Find out more:

    • Older children can interview parents to find out what was most difficult for them when caring for their babies and young children and what helped them the most.

    Take action:

    Older children can form a group and play with the little ones together so their parents can have time to do other things. A grandparent can supervise. Parents or other caregivers can have special time together each day to cuddle tell a story or sing a lullaby.

Children can
learn, collect & share these messages!

Caring-for-Babies

CHILDREN SAY THAT
WE CAN…

MAKE our own Caring for Babies & Young Children Messages using our own words in our own language!

LEARN these messages so we never forget them!

ADD these messages to our collection!

SHARE these messages with other children and our families!

WHAT CAN CHILDREN
MAKE?

DIVIDE children into groups of ‘boys’ and ‘girls’; have boys play ‘girls games’ and girls play ‘boys games’. Afterwards, have both groups discuss the game. For example, do you agree with the games being called BOYS or GIRLS games? Why or why not?

CHILDREN can discuss what good and bad behaviours are at home or in the school and why. They can make poster to show them or do a role play about this topic.

ORGANISE ‘toy-making competitions’ with children. Such as mobiles, rattles, building blocks, dolls, animals and picture books. The competition can be at home, run by community groups or in school.

MAKE drawings and posters to show some of the things that need to be done to prevent diseases.

WHAT CAN CHILDREN
DO?

MAKE a short play about caregivers playing with young children the right way. They can play out the dialogue between two mothers; one who believes young children should be kept quiet and one who believes in playing!

CHILDREN can mime/act out an emotion/feeling only with gestures and face expressions. The other children guess what the feeling or emotion is.

CHILDREN can ask their parents and grandparents why and what makes babies cry and laugh. They can share with the class what they have found out.

AT SCHOOL, a class can ‘adopt a baby’ from the local community. The mother can come into the class every month or two to discuss with the children how the baby is growing.

MAKE a song or songs to describe the actions necessary to prevent diseases (wash hands, take a bath, wear clean cloths, drink safe water). They can sing them at home with their younger siblings.

OLDER children can interview parents to find out what was most difficult for them when caring for their babies and young children and what helped them the most.

WHAT CAN CHILDREN
ASK?

ASK a health worker or a science teacher to tell you more about how the brain grows.

OLDER children can ask the elderly in the community to teach them songs, stories and games and sing songs for babies and younger children.

CHILDREN can ask adults what do they think it is important to do to prevent babies from getting diseases.

ALL 10 MESSAGES…

ACCIDENT & INJURY PREVENTION

  1. Play games, cuddle, talk, show, laugh and sing to babies and young children as much as you can.
  2. Babies and young children become angry, afraid and tearful easily & can’t explain their feelings. Always be kind.
  3. Young children learn fast: how to walk, make sounds, eat and drink. Help them but let them make safe mistakes too!
  4. All girls and all boys are as important as each other. Treat everyone well especially children who are sick or who have disabilities.
  5. Young children copy the actions of those around them. Look after yourself, behave well near them & show them good ways.
  6. When young children cry, there’s a reason (hunger, fear, pain). Try to find out why.
  7. Help prepare young children for learning at school by playing number and word games, painting or drawing. Tell them stories, sing songs and dance.
  8. In a group, watch and record in a notebook how a baby grows into a toddler and when they do important ‘firsts’ like speak, walk & talk.
  9. Prevent diseases by helping adults and older siblings to check that babies & young children are clean (especially hands and faces), drink safe water & eat enough good food.
  10. Give loving care to babies & young children but don’t forget about yourself. You are important too!

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