Our Approach to Babies
Our overall aim is to maintain the highest quality standards of childcare, learning and play at all times. We are constantly reflecting on our own practice and firmly believe in the ethos of self-evaluation. Whilst the nursery building is a very large house, we still manage to maintain a homely feel by dividing the children up into age appropriate rooms in manageable numbers. Babies move through the nursery according to age and developmental ability, so the age ranges shown against each room are for guidance only.
Hummingbirds : For babies aged 3 months to 18 months
We have two very spacious baby rooms for our youngest children, comprised of sleep areas with cots and two changing rooms; each play room can accommodate up to 9 children and is looked after by a total of 6 members of staff along with contingency staff and lunch cover. Although we accept children from 3 months, the average age range in these rooms is about 9 months to 18 months. Children are organised into age appropriate groups as well as allowed to mix freely within their room. Naturally, children develop at different ages with some still discovering how to move and sit, whilst others are crawling and taking those first steps:
Heads Up, Lookers and Communicators (Babies still learning to sit and crawl) – During these first months, young babies react to people and situations with their whole bodies. They are also competent in observing and responding to their immediate environment and communicating with those around them.
Sitters, Standers and Explorers (Babies who have become more mobile) – Once children have become more mobile they explore their environment with more intention. Increasing mobility and language development enable them to find out and understand more about the world.
We hold a variety of activities such as messy play, music time, heuristic play, treasure baskets, sensory areas and plenty of play opportunities, indoor and out. Our babies and toddlers will take regular trips into the garden, where they have a dedicated “baby patio” of their own! The nursery benefits greatly from being next door to Withdean Park, Surrenden Field and Preston Park, so we often take babies out for walks with pushchairs.
Many of our babies in these rooms will be making their first steps in terms of walking, talking and feeding themselves and we therefore make every effort to ensure staff and parents are working very closely together to monitor and share progress. Children follow a carefully planned journey from Hummingbirds through to other age appropriate rooms before they leave us to go to school. Each room will have its own settling and transition routine to make sure that children are not overwhelmed by their progress. You can see our transition policy by clicking here.
The Importance of Attachment
Just as children seek reassurances from the adults in their family life, so too is it important that they have the same sense of comfort at nursery. At the Wishing Tree Nursery we have developed our own keyperson approach which ensures that the bond between your child, the nursery and home life is consistently reassuring.
There is a fascinating and instructive book on the nature of attachment called “ Sabre Tooth Tigers and Teddy Bears”, written by Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, a developmental psychologist.
Suzanne writes about the fear of the “sabre-tooth tiger moments” in our lives, which cause anxiety and even fear. In very young children these scary moments can be as simple as a parent or carer leaving the room, or something more worrying such as a stranger nearby. Consequently, a pre-historic tiger represents the age-old threat to our instincts of survival and self-preservation.
To combat the tiger, young children need repeated and reliable experiences of comfort to build up their emotional resilience, which helps them to cope better with such situations in the future. It builds up an ‘internal teddy bear’ – the reassurance and comfort that a familiar cuddly toy brings, which helps when the scary moments come again in the future. In the main, these experiences are very simple – consistent and reliable sleep and meal times, structured and free play, freedom to express their emotions, make choices, feel heard and experience unconditional love from trusted adults.
You can read all about the importance of attachment in an article we wrote for the ABC Magazine.