Baby's First Year
By Day, Hendricks, Palmer

Baby's First Year

In this special section you’ll find information on Developmental Milestones, Bonding and Attachment, and Infant Safety.

To gaze upon any number of babies is to be in observance of little pioneers forging their own individual frontiers. As a caregiver, you provide the space and the stimulation, but the babies follow a set of step-by-step instructions. They will all get where they are going, but each baby at a different pace from the next.

How can a caregiver be assured, amidst such differences, that her little charges are on track? Just as a daily schedule helps babies feel safe and secure by providing a predictable routine, caregivers can feel more confident in their jobs by knowing what to expect of infant development. So assuming your environment is conducive to movement and learning, your interaction with babies is lively, the meals are balanced, and the manipulatives enriching, you will see exciting changes during baby’s first year.*


Bonding and Attachment

By Clare Adrian Day

Infant caregivers are in the profession because they love babies, but this is only half of the equation for high-quality infant care. The other half is the invisible bond that forms during feeding, playing, comforting, and reacting to baby’s signals with timed and thoughtful responses. At the end of the hour, day, or week, however long it takes for each unique child, the caregiver who responds to babies with the steadiness of a heartbeat can be assured that her relationship with baby is second only to the bond she shares with her parents. 


Understanding Baby’s Needs

Although there has been much debate about whether to respond to baby’s every cry, many psychologists agree that responding with immediacy to a crying baby fosters early independence. When an adult reacts quickly, baby learns that her needs will be met and that she has a safety net when exploring new things. As caregivers begin to bond with the infants in their care, they will soon learn the various types of baby’s cues and how to respond. Not every cry means, “I’m hungry.” There’s a difference between a cry signaling a change of diaper and a cry that says, “I’m bored. I need more stimulation,” or “Come closer, I’d like to be held.”


Meeting Baby’s Needs

Not only do different cries have different meanings, but each baby is an individual who responds to your signals of care differently. What works for one baby, may not work for another of a different temperament. The creative caregiver has a variety of methods to calm a baby, which may include holding baby close, cradling baby in your arms, swaddling her in a blanket, holding her face-to-face, talking in low quiet tones, or singing a lullaby. Baby will let you know which one of these methods works best, and soon you’ll know exactly how to soothe him.


Making the Transition

As parents leave you with their treasured baby, they may need your support and encouragement to ease themselves and baby into the transition from home to child care. Here are a few suggestions for making the transition as smooth as possible.

·         Encourage parents to bring baby to your program for short periods of time a few days before full-time care begins. 

·         Ask parents to bring a blanket, toy, photograph, or some other familiar item from home for baby.           

·         Hold, cuddle, and let baby know you’re nearby. As your face becomes familiar to baby,so does your smell and the sound of your voice.

·         Build a language rapport with baby by making a sound and waiting for baby to make a sound, then make another sound and wait and on and on until one of you tires, preferably baby.

·         Sing a song or tell a story while diapering, eating, or transitioning baby from one activity to another.


The Miracle of Touch

One doesn’t have to be a certified therapist to know that loving, kind, caring, soft touch feels good. Through your touch, baby will receive the message that there is nothing to fear. Here are some games and activities you can try. 

·         Stroke baby with soft objects such as a furry teddy bear, a feather, or a soft piece of cloth.

·         Play rhyming games such as, “To Market, To Market” or “This Little Piggy” on baby’s toes.

·         Rock baby to sleep and hold him during feedings. 

·         Play a game of peek-a-boo to remind baby that even though you go away, you always come right back.

·         Give baby lots of kisses and tickle him until he squeals with glee.


Clare Adrian Day is a freelance writer and former early childhood parent educator.


Developmental Milestones: 1-3 Months*

  • Swats moving and/or hanging objects with hands
  • Kicks legs when placed on back or tummy
  • Opens and closes hands
  • Tracks objects with eyes
  • Lifts chest and head when placed on stomach
  • Starts smiling at familiar faces
  • Begins to coo and babble
  • Recognizes familiar sounds and turns head toward sound
  • Attracted to pictures and photographs with striking colors and contrasts


Infant Safety

By Charlotte Hendricks

The first year of life is exciting for both baby and his parents. Mom and Dad are thrilled by each and every new development in baby’s life – first tooth, first words, and first steps. During the first year, babies see faces, people, and objects, and then they begin to reach for them. Next thing you know, babies are mobile and exploring the wonders of their environment! There are two key concepts in this statement – mobile and explore. It’s amazing how quickly an infant can reach for an object, and put that object into his mouth. These characteristics make safety a never-ending challenge. In this article, we list the most common infant safety hazards and describe how you can keep baby safe in your program and at home.



A baby’s line of vision begins at floor level and ends at about two feet. To really see potential hazards, you should get down on all fours and look around. You can expect to find choking hazards, such as paper clips, coins, a peanut, or a vitamin under a chair, hiding underneath a countertop, or nudged into a corner. From this perspective, you’ll also see dirt and debris tracked in from your shoes, including chemicals from a treated lawn. To ensure an infant’s safety, do a daily “floor check” to remove all choking hazards from under and behind furniture. If your infant room is carpeted, be sure that it is properly swept and professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Linoleum floors should be sanitized daily with a bleach and water solution.


Electrical Outlets

Most electrical outlets are directly at a baby’s eye level. You can be sure an infant will not only find the outlet, but explore it with his little fingers. To prevent injury, be sure all outlets, even those out of baby’s reach, are securely covered. In addition, keep cords of all appliances short and away from baby. An infant pulling on a cord can easily cause heavy objects to crash to the floor or even worse on him.



One of baby’s first triumphs, at around the age of eight to 12 months, is the ability to climb up. Babies love to practice their new skills and will likely climb out of their cribs, up stairs, and onto chairs, which can then provide access to countertops and changing tables! While a fall from a chair or sofa is not likely to cause serious injury, a fall from a countertop can be deadly. Constant supervision is the key to preventing such falls. Also, try to avoid putting infants in walkers. Walkers give babies instant mobility, which can lead to a crash into a wall or a bumpy ride down a staircase.

To eliminate climbing hazards, place sturdy safety gates at both the top and bottom of staircases, as well as at doorways to other rooms. The bottom of the gate should be less than three inches from the floor to prevent the child from crawling under it and becoming trapped. Be sure the gates are secure and cannot be pushed or pulled down. Never use accordion style gates. A gate of this type can strangle a child. In addition, always keep one hand on baby at all times when diapering. An infant can fall from a changing table in the few seconds you turn your back. High chairs should have sturdy wide bases and include all safety straps, including the strap that goes between the child’s legs.


Suffocation and Strangulation

To make naptime as safe as possible, place infants in cribs that have firm, close-fitting mattresses and sheets that stay securely on the mattress. Dress infants in warm pajamas to eliminate the need for blankets and never place pillows or stuffed toys in the crib. In addition, always put baby on his back to sleep, not his stomach. To ensure crib safety, there should be no more than 2 3/8 inches between crib slats and corner posts should not protrude more than 1/16 inch above the end panels. Eliminate entrapment hazards by selecting cribs that do not have cutout or carved areas on the headboard or footboard.



Keep all window treatments and blind cords away from baby’s reach. In addition, be sure that all cribs and highchairs are kept a safe distance away from windows to prevent access. Because babies are “top heavy” they can easily topple out of windows. A screen alone will not prevent baby’s fall from a window.


Safety devices

Remember that no room or area is ever completely “child proof.” Although latches and locks can be installed on cabinets, toilets, and refrigerators, these devices will only help in slowing down a child’s access. You’ll find that many children will quickly learn how to open the latches and locks. The same is true of child-resistant caps on medication bottles. These can delay, but not always prevent access. Again, your constant supervision and daily removal of potential hazards are the keys to keeping baby safe and sound.


Charlotte Hendricks, assistant editor of HealthyCHILDCare, specializes in the health and safety of young children and can be reached by email at For more information about her health and safety resources, please visit


Developmental Milestones: 4-7 Months*

  • Begins using eyes and arms together to bat, reach, and grasp
  • Explores everything within reach
  • Passes objects from one hand to another
  • Rolls over
  • Sits with or without the support of hands
  • Returns smiles
  • Begins participating in social games and activities
  • Expresses interest in mirrored  images
  • Jabbers and begins to use single syllables
  • Explores to find hidden objects  


Food Safety

By Sharon Palmer

We’ve all seen the headlines: Four children fall prey to contaminated hamburger meat. Child dies after consuming peanut butter cookie. Five-month-old baby perishes, milk allergy is the suspect. Because infants have undeveloped immune systems and lower body weights, they are at greater risk for food borne illness. In addition, research indicates that eight percent of children may be affected by food allergies. Young children rely totally on their caregivers to manage their food intake and ensure that it is safe. A child’s first year is an exploration of sights, sounds, sensations and tastes. Providing a safe, nutritious journey into this world is one of our most important challenges.


Food Safety Is in the Bottle

A crystal clear baby bottle decorated with teddy bears may appear innocuous enough, but all manner of threats may be lurking in its sparkling depths. When handling children’s bottles, use the following safety tips.

  • Sanitize baby bottles and nipples, even bottles with disposable liners, by washing them in hot soapy water and rinsing them in clear hot water and a sanitizer rinse (11⁄2 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach per one gallon water). Allow bottles to air dry. Placing bottles, nipples, and tops in the top shelf of a dishwasher is an appropriate method of disinfection, assuming that the dishwater  achieves a temperature of 160°F.
  • Label all filled baby bottles with the infant’s name and date to avoid confusion.
  • Refrigerate baby bottles below 40°F. If a bottle is left out for more than two hours, discard contents.
  • Use all prepared infant formula within 48 hours. After this, contents should be discarded.
  • Use expressed breast milk within three days, if stored in refrigerator. Frozen breast milk should be defrosted in the refrigerator and not left out on the counter at room temperature for defrosting.
  • Use caution when heating bottles in a microwave, as hot spots may occur. Avoid using a microwave to heat breast milk. Plastic bottle liners may explode in a microwave. A better method of heating bottles is a hot water bath or commercial bottle warmer. Test the temperature of the warmed bottle on the back of your hand to ensure that it is merely tepid.
  • Discard leftover contents of all bottles after feeding due to potential bacterial contamination.
  • Never give an infant another child’s bottle.
  • Maintain records of children’s nutritional intake, including formula type or breast milk, amounts, and frequency.
  • Never prop up a bottle during feeding, as choking may occur.
  • Avoid putting solids or cereal in a bottle, as this may also cause choking.


Sharon Palmer is a registered dietitian, mother of two, freelance writer, and instructor of children’s cooking classes in Southern California.


Developmental Milestones: 8-12 Months*

  • Understands and enjoys playing peek-a-boo
  • Pulls up to a standing position
  • Grasps a toy in each hand and bangs them together
  • Walks without assistance
  • Imitates actions and words
  • Begins using simple words such as mom, dad, and bye-bye
  • Picks up toys and lets go
  • Expresses separation anxiety when away from mom and dad
  • Plays games such as shoving a ball back and forth between self and caregiver and associating the  open-close hand movement with the sound of “bye-bye”


*Special Section introduction and developmental milestones written by Clare Adrian Day.