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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Caregivers for infants, toddlers, and twos genuinely care about the health and well-being of the youngest children. Typically, those of you who care for this age group love what you do. You prefer children in this age range, and your preferences may be even more particular; for example, you may like caring for infants but not enjoy working with toddlers and two-year-olds. Infants need continuous care, monitoring, holding, and comforting. Those of you who work with them typically love babies. And that’s fortunate because infants can be demanding! You need to enjoy responding to their immediate needs, includ- ing feeding, changing their diapers, and providing safe, comforting places for them to grow and develop. Toddler learning environments are very different: they are busy, often noisy, places where children spend a lot of time on the floor. Toddlers are learning to move and explore the world, and they sometimes demonstrate their newfound independence through challenging behaviors. The two-year-old class- room is also busy, noisy, and exciting. Twos walk, run, and engage in pretend play. They enjoy singing, playing with and on musical instruments, and being read to by adults. Their growing ability to talk and ask questions fuels their drive to learn about the world. Providing optimal care to this age group takes special knowledge, expertise—and energy. Some caregivers move from teaching preschool to providing infant-toddler care. If you’re making such a move, remember that your new responsibilities will be quite different from those of preschool teachers. Most preschool children are already potty trained or are learning to manage their toileting routines. They have usually mas- tered skills like dressing and undressing themselves, asking simple questions, and communicating their needs with words. Infants and toddlers, on the other hand, still depend on adults to provide their basic needs. While you’re tending to their basic needs, you must also support their learning across the developmental domains. Programs that adhere to best prac- tices provide consistent routines and schedules to give children a sense of predictability, which they need to develop trust and security. (I discuss the important of routines further in chapter 5.) A large part of caring for very young children is creating op- portunities for them to experience the world firsthand and to become more independent. Through uncountable interactions, you teach infants, tod- dlers, and twos the fundamentals of language, navigating the world, and forming relationships and acquiring independence and a sense of self. To achieve these aims, you must be pa- tient, nurturing, and responsive to every child in your care. Caregiving and the Early Childhood Professional COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 13