Introduction Those of you who work in early childhood education (ECE) and care programs know
they’re noisy, exciting places. Children from birth to age three are bundles of energy
whose bodies are in constant motion. Infants, toddlers, and twos can sweep from
frustration to joy, delight, and tears within minutes. They love to cuddle, listen to
stories, and sleep gently in your arms. It’s easy for babies to melt your heart when
they look up at you with their big toothless grins. You know there’s nothing quite as
sweet or precious as a young child. They captivate and motivate you—their wonder-
ment and delight make your work rewarding even when you’re tired. Their inno-
cence and sense of wonder bring you joy and hope, and they inspire you to provide
them with the highest-possible quality of care.
The care that infants, toddlers, and twos receive dramatically affects
their future intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development.
And you play a critical role in determining if they will acquire the
skills they need to succeed in life. As if this wasn’t already an over-
whelming amount of responsibility, remember too that the rela-
tionships you build with young children are going to affect their
ability to form healthy relationships for the rest of their lives.
Caring for Children
The term caregiver typically refers to any adult besides
the parent or guardian who cares for a child for
any length of time. But you don’t want to be just
any caregiver—you want to be a responsive care-
giver, and that means you actively create nurtur-
ing relationships with the children you care for.
These very young humans are almost wholly depen-
dent on you for their physical, mental, and emotional