Infant and toddler care

How to Use This List

  1. Go through each item on the list.
  2. Check off the things you already do.
  3. Don’t worry if you can’t check off everything!
  4. Use the items you DO NOT CHECK off to create an action plan for improvement.

Furniture and Space

Relaxation and Comfort

  • ___ Rugs or other soft materials are available for children to play on.
  • ___ Several easy-to-clean soft toys are available to children most of the day.
  • ___ A special cozy area with rugs, cushions, bean bags, upholstered furniture or other soft furnishings is always available to children.
  • ___ The cozy area is protected from active play.
  • ___ Non-mobile infants are placed in the cozy area when appropriate.
  • ___ The cozy area is used for reading, singing, and other quiet play.

Room Arrangement

  • ___ There is enough space for both routine daily activities and play.
  • ___ All children are visible to the caregiver at all times, including while changing diapers.
  • ___ Open areas are used for crawling, walking, and play.
  • ___ Children are not crowded.
  • ___ Cribs are placed for easy access.
  • ___ Diapering supplies are at hand.
  • ___ Hot, running water is available where needed.
  • ___ Feeding tables are easy to clean.
  • ___ Areas for quiet and active play are separated (for example, by low shelves).
  • ___ Young infants are given space and materials to explore while protected from more mobile children.
  • ___ A variety of learning experiences are available in both routine and play areas (for example, there is a mobile over the diapering table that is changed often and there are many age appropriate toys available in the play areas).
  • ___ Materials with a similar use are placed together to make interest areas with suitable play space (for example, for infants there are rattle and soft toy areas; for toddlers there are book, music, and push-toy areas).
  • ___ Traffic patterns don’t interfere with activities.

Safety Practices

  • ___ There is a phone in the home.
  • ___ Transportation is available in case of emergency.
  • ___ First aid supplies are well stocked and ready to use.
  • ___ Emergency numbers are posted near the phone.
  • ___ Hot water is managed safely.
  • ___ No obvious safety problems indoors or outdoors: medicines are in a locked cabinet, cleaning supplies are out of reach, toys and objects small enough to be swallowed are kept away from infants and toddlers, etc.
  • ___ Parents are informed about any accidents.
  • ___ Caregiving area is planned to avoid safety problems (for example, younger children are separated from older children during active play, and outdoor play equipment is child-sized).
  • ___ Caregiver uses car safety seats for infants and toddlers.
  • ___ Children are taught safety rules as soon as possible.
  • ___ Caregiver shares safety information with parents (for example, staff provides parents with pamphlets on car restraints and home safety and explains program safety plans to parents).

Safety Policy

  • ___ All staff is trained is safety and emergency procedures.
  • ___ The facility has passed official fire safety inspection.
  • ___ A substitute caregiver is available for emergencies.
  • ___ The substitute is familiar with the children and the activities at the home and knows the emergency plans.
  • ___ Emergency exit plans are posted and practiced at least monthly with children.
  • ___ At least one person with first aid training, including CPR, is in the facility at all times.
  • ___ All regular caregivers have current first aid training, including CPR.

Active Physical Play

  • ___ Safe outdoor play for all ages provided at least three times per week
  • ___ Uncluttered indoor space provided for infants and toddlers to crawl and walk around much of the day.
  • ___ Outdoor and indoor play is closely supervised.
  • ___ At least a few age appropriate toys and equipment are available for daily use.
  • ___ Play things and equipment are in good repair.
  • ___ There is a convenient outdoor area where infants and toddlers are separated from older children; the area is used for at least one hour per day except in very bad weather.
  • ___ Play things and equipment exercise a variety of muscle skills, such as crawling, walking, balancing, climbing, swinging, and playing ball.
  • ___ Active play areas are not crowded.
  • ___ Physical play equipment is changed or rotated weekly to provide new challenges (for example, an obstacle course, a tunnel, or a new ball game is added).
  • ___ Toys and equipment are all age appropriate.
  • ___ Caregiver talks to children about their activities (for example, the caregiver explains safety rules).


  • ___ Caregiver is within sight, hearing, and easy reach of children at all times.
  • ___ Caregiver is focused on children and not on other tasks or interests.
  • ___ There is sufficient supervision to meet every child’s routine care needs with little crying, waiting, or regimentation.
  • ___ Even while working with one child or a small group of children, the caregiver maintains supervision of the whole group.
  • ___ Caregiver watches carefully and intervenes to avoid problems (for example, the caregiver avoids conflict by bringing out a duplicate toy, moving active play that is disrupting quiet play, etc.).
  • ___ Caregiver plays with children and shows appreciation for what they do.
  • ___ Caregiver reacts quickly to solve problems in a comforting and supportive way.
  • ___ Supervision is provided with each child’s learning needs in mind (for example, the caregiver moves non-mobile infants to avoid boredom, does a planned activity with a small group while others are sleeping, etc.).
  • ___ Balance is maintained between a child’s need for independent exploration and his need for caregiver support.

Interactions between Caregivers and Children

  • ___ Caregiver often smiles at, talks to, and listens to children.
  • ___ Caregiver shows warmth in physical contact while doing routine activities (for example, the caregiver smiles while feeding the child).
  • ___ Caregiver gives each child equal attention.
  • ___ Caregiver responds sympathetically to children who are hurt or upset
  • ___ Children appear happy most of the time.
  • ___ There are frequent positive interactions between caregivers and children throughout the day (for example, the caregiver initiates verbal and physical play, responds when child initiates interactions, and shows delight in child’s activity).
  • ___ Caregiver and children seem relaxed.
  • ___ Voices are cheerful and children smile often.
  • ___ There is much holding, patting, and physical warmth shown throughout the day.
  • ___ Interactions with children are consistent across all caregivers, including substitutes.
  • ___ Each caregiver is assigned primary responsibility for a small number of children.
  • ___ Caregiver varies interactive style to meet children’s individual needs (for example, caregiver is calmer with timid babies, more active with outgoing babies).
  • ___ Caregiver is sensitive about children’s feelings and reactions (for example, the caregiver avoids abrupt interruptions and warns the baby before picking him or her up).


  • ___ Diapers are checked and changed often.
  • ___ Adults wash their hands with soap after changing diapers or helping children with toileting.
  • ___ Potty chairs are sanitized immediately after use.
  • ___ Children aren’t left on the toilet too long.
  • ___ Toilet training isn’t started too early.
  • ___ Caregiver treats toileting accidents as unintentional mishaps instead of punishable offenses.
  • ___ Diapering area is cleaned thoroughly after each use.
  • ___ Children’s hands are washed after using the toilet and, if needed, after diapering.
  • ___ Caregiver handles toileting accidents calmly.
  • ___ Diapering is done near a source of hot water.
  • ___ Toilets are child-sized (potty chairs for toddlers also work).
  • ___ Sinks are equipped with steps or are low enough for children to easily use.
  • ___ Caregiver works with parents to toilet train toddlers.
  • ___ A child-sized toilet is used in place of a potty chair.
  • ___ Caregiver uses diapering as a time to warmly relate with children.
  • ___ Diapering and toileting are used to teach children self-help, cleanliness, and dressing skills (handwashing, using toilet paper, buttoning and snapping, etc.).
  • ___ Parents are informed about child’s diapering / toileting during day (for example, a written record is kept for infants).

Personal Grooming

  • ___ Hands are washed before and after meals, after using the toilet, and after messy play.
  • ___ Each child has his own towel or washcloth (paper or cloth).
  • ___ Extra clothes are available and children are change when needed.
  • ___ Children are cleaned up and hair is brushed after messy playing or napping.
  • ___ Bibs are used during meals if needed.
  • ___ Caregiver encourages children to care for themselves by letting them help in changing clothes and by encouraging children to wash their own hands.
  • ___ Caregiver makes personal activities more pleasant for children by singing songs, gently washing babies’ faces, and avoiding making babies cry.
  • ___ Grooming is used as a learning experience (for example, by teaching names for body parts and clothing and by letting children look in the mirror).
  • ___ Each child has his own toothbrush.
  • ___ Individual toothbrushes are properly stored and teeth are brushed at least once per day.
  • ___ A low sink or steps make it easy for children to reach the sink and wash their hands.

Health Practices

  • ___ Child care areas are clean, well-lighted, and the correct temperature.
  • ___ Sandbox is kept covered when not in use.
  • ___ Outdoor and water play areas are protected from contamination.
  • ___ Caregiver cuts down on the spread of germs by wiping runny noses with clean tissues for each child and by frequently washing hands.
  • ___ Equipment is well maintained.
  • ___ Sick children’s needs are met (for example, there is a quiet area for sick children to rest and fussy children are held).
  • ___ Caregiver is a living example of good health practices by eating healthy foods and refraining from smoking in front of children.
  • ___ Health information is provided for parents.
  • ___ Caregiver encourages good health through the use of health-related books, pictures, and games.
  • ___ Surfaces of the room and equipment are easy to keep clean.

Health Policy

  • ___ Smoking is prohibited in care giving areas.
  • ___ Caregiver has a yearly health exam.
  • ___ Caregiver keeps a record of immunization for each child.
  • ___ Caregiver has emergency care and health information for each child, including contact information for the child’s parents, doctor, and dentist.
  • ___ Caregiver reports suspected child abuse.
  • ___ Special health problems such as allergies, hearing loss, or hyperactivity are written down and the caregiver uses the information in planning activities.
  • ___ Parents are told about the illness of others in the program.
  • ___ Rules are set up to govern attendance during an illness at a child’s home and parents are told about the rules.
  • ___ Medication is given only from the original container with written permission from parents and exact instructions.
  • ___ Caregiver has arranged for a medical consultant, such as a local doctor or nurse practitioner, to handle child care questions.
  • ___ Staff assists parents in assuring that children’s health needs are met (for example, by helping parents recognize health problems and by providing referrals).

Planning Activities

  • ___ Each day includes enough time for both routine activities (meals, grooming, changing diapers, etc.) and play.
  • ___ Schedule for basic routines is flexible and individualized to meet each child’s needs (for example, infants are on individual schedules and toddlers are eased into a group schedule).
  • ___ Caregiver provides play activities as part of the daily schedule.
  • ___ The schedule is posted and accessible for use by substitute caregivers and parents.
  • ___ Several activity periods, some indoors and some outdoors, are planned each day.
  • ___ Play is varied between active and quiet play to meet children’s needs.
  • ___ Learning and play experiences are incorporated into routines (for example, the caregiver sings to babies during diapering, lets toddlers help set the table for snacks, etc.).
  • ___ Appropriate learning activities are planned and carried out with each child daily, alone or in a very small group.
  • ___ Caregiver creates smooth transitions from one activity to the next to prevent waiting and disruption (for example, the caregiver sets out play materials for toddlers before putting babies down for a nap)