Feeding Infants

There is a lot to think about when feeding infants!

The teachers and infants spend a lot of their time in what I call “care-giving routines” – such as feeding, changing diapers, sleeping. We want to be sure that we are making the most of those times and taking advantage of teachable moments.  For example, when a baby is being fed a bottle, the teacher should be engaged, making eye contact, while also observing the other children in the classroom.


Watch the video below to learn more about infant feeding:


We never offer a child a new food until we have talked with the parent (such as a Cheerio, new type of jar food, finger food). We talk with parents about what the children eat and their schedule, and we also help facilitate next steps as the baby grows and develops. Parents play a key role in making decisions about what their child eats and is important to partner with them.


Let’s talk about how to start the day:

It is crucial to engage the parent in a conversation at arrival time in the morning. This could be as simple as saying “good morning,” asking how everyone is doing and asking what time the baby got up and was fed. This all sets the tone for the day, as you plan the baby’s feeding and napping schedules. Without this information, planning for the day is more of a guess, something we want to avoid when caring for children. After receiving the information, it is recorded on the form called the “Infant Daily Log.”  This log is the infant teacher’s “Go To” form throughout the day because it is here that all of the baby’s feedings and naps are recorded. A new log is created at the beginning of each month and is kept in a confidential binder at the Teacher’s Area. The Infant Daily Log must be filled out in entirety each day and it is required by DCYF Licensing Regulations. This information is also communicated to the parent at departure time so that the parent has a clear picture of how their child’s day was. This is also recorded in Tadpoles. There are 3 schedules for feeding – please see our policy on Feeding Infants.

To keep your classroom organized:

Each infant has an individually labeled basket that details what the child eats. If a child is drinking breast milk, that will be kept in either the refrigerator or freezer and will be marked with child’s name and date.

The next thing to consider is bottle feeding. Babies are fed bottles at the temperature parent specifies (cold, warm, room temperature). Parents must bring in a minimum of 4 bottles per day. If food is to be served warm, according to the parent’s preference, the bottle will be heated to a warm temperature in a bottle warmer, not a microwave. All bottles will be shaken before the fluid temperature is checked. Liquid must first be tested on the teacher’s wrist to ensure the contents are a suitable temperature. We do not feed bottles with food or medications in them. Be sure to use a burp cloth to protect your clothing from the occasional spit up.


After feeding the child, the teacher will empty and rinse out the bottle, even if there is formula/milk remaining, and return the bottle to the proper diaper bag. Bottles are sent home each day to be cleaned by the parents. Bottles must never be reheated, per regulations.
The best way to feed an infant is the one that is most appropriate to their developmental age. For example:
Babies who are unable to hold their own bottles will always be held by a teacher while being fed.
If the baby is able to hold the bottle, the child can be given the bottle in an infant seat or high chair.
Bottles will not be given to children in exer-saucers, swings, bumbo seats or any other piece of equipment except a high chair or infant seat.

Bottles are also NEVER to be propped, given in a crib, and a child is never forced to eat or drink.

It’s important to introduce infants to textures early on so they can transition more easily to finger foods. With this in mind, bottles should be fed to a baby after the food, unless a parent specifies. Please remember that we always get parent permission prior to introducing any new foods.

At approximately 6 to 9 months (as recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics), the infant lead teacher will talk with the parent about transitioning the child onto a sippy cup. At this age, babies also typically being finger feeding themselves lunch and snacks, with the assistance of a teacher. Unless food is baby food jar consistency, it should be cut into very small, chewable pieces. When items such as bottles or spoons fall from the high chair, we wash them and give them back.

Teachers should assist parents with gathering food items at the end of the day. Keep in mind any opened baby food is not sent home, nor is any food that is provided by Dr. Day Care. We encourage parents to send in the amount of food the child will need for the day to avoid discarding opened, uneaten food.


You will typically see this type of natural progression for learning to eat:

  • Being fed a bottle while being held
  • Holding own bottle, in a high chair or infant bouncy chair
  • Being fed baby food/cereal in a high chair by a teacher
  • Eating finger foods in a high chair with support of a teacher, also being taught how to use a spoon
  • Eating in a high chair
  • Eating in a sassy seat/clip on chair at table
  • Eating in a chair at a table


Outdoor Play / Playground

An important part of the infants’ day takes place outside the walls of our centers.

Children love to be outside and there is so much learning that can take place during outdoor time. The outdoor environment is an extension of the classroom so we need to plan for this part of the day just as we do the other parts of the daily routine. This is true for all children, even our youngest babies.


Watch the video below to learn more about engaging infants in outdoor play:


The first step in making this part of your day a comfortable routine for your young ones is to take them outside every morning and every afternoon. If it is a familiar part of your routine your children will learn when to anticipate going outside so that they can look forward to it. We want parents to understand the expectation to have appropriate outdoor clothing and shoes at school every day.

If you are not sure if you can go outside on a very cold or very hot day, you can check our Outdoor Weather Policy with the input of your administrator. If you have a request from a parent for their child to not go outdoors, you can explain that we do include all children in outdoor play every day or you can refer them to your administrator for this conversation if needed.

To make sure that you are fully prepared before you hit the playground, you must bring your boo-boo bag with you. It will have tissues, Band-Aids, gloves, a garbage bag and an epi-pen if a child has one. You will also bring your sign-in book and your iPad for Tadpoles so that you can sign in or out a child who arrives or departs, as well as getting those great photos of outdoor play.

It is okay to incorporate a little bit of a walk in the buggy or stroller.

This is a great opportunity to build language skills as you talk with the children about what you see, hear, feel and notice. But the walk alone will not be the entirety of your outdoor time unless you have a day when the ground is unusually wet.

On most days, the children will sit, walk, and run outside as they explore riding toys, push toys, and other materials. You can even bring different classroom toys outside with you each day. Children who are reluctant to jump right into an activity can be persuaded when a teacher sits right down on the ground and begins to use the toys in a fun way. Other strategies to help your infants transition into play might be to sit down and sing a few songs or even read a story.

One other trick to engage children is to provide a wide variety of materials to explore.

They don’t even have to be toys! Think of natural materials that you can explore, such as branches, stones, the grass, and wood logs and even things like bubble wrap, scarves, or a small parachute. Each classroom has a section in the lesson plans of the day specifically for what was planned in advance to do outside. Some ideas are ring-around-the-rosie, alligator farm, ball games, shadow tag, or bubble catching.

Once you are done playing have a song or cue to help children return back inside. This can be something that you sing, as well as cleaning up the toys- just as you would when you are done playing inside. Be sure to bring in your boo-boo bag, garbage bag, and tissue box at the end of each outdoor play time.
In the summer your infants will also take part in water play every morning. While you might try a sprinkler some days set on a low setting, you can also have splash time with sensory bins filled with water and other fun and wet activity materials. Please note that we do not allow pools at Dr. Day Care.

Infants can still be changed into bathing suits and hats and sun-screened just like our older friends. Be sure to check if each child has signed permission to have sunscreen applied. Exploring with water is a great sensory activity and will prepare them for water play in the big sprinklers as a toddler.

Children are not born knowing about the natural world around them. When we help children to make playful contact with the outdoors they learn new concepts and learn how to make this world their own.

Activities for Older Infants

When we talk about “older infants” we are referring to babies from about 12 months to about 18 months old.


Watch the video below to learn more about activities for older infants:

Babies at this age typically enjoy music, movement, sensory activities, and are just a few short months away from entering the toddler classroom.

Each week, teachers plan engaging activities to support children’s growth and development. This is done on the weekly Lesson Plan Form. Some of these learning opportunities involve the music and movement activities, dramatic play, and manipulatives present in the classroom. Daily activities are also planned on the weekly Lesson Plans, such as the book of the day, fine motor activities, sensory activities, gross motor activities, and more.

Older infants are working on their gross motor skills as they are beginning to move around more – crawling, pulling themselves up, to taking their first steps to walking around the whole classroom. Your classroom should be structured appropriately to allow children of this age to move freely and have access to all materials. Teacher materials should always be placed out of sight and out of reach for safety reasons.

Since we know that babies learn through touching and exploring, all materials should be kept in containers that babies can easily access. These containers should be properly labeled – with a picture of the item along with the English and Spanish word for that item. This begins to teach children at a very young age that each item has its very own place in the classroom as well as teaching early literacy skills.

Some activities you may want to try with your older infants are coloring, play dough, puzzles, stacking, filling, and dumping, and enjoying other toys that are available around the room. One thing to be mindful of is all items should be age appropriate and most importantly non-toxic. For example, shaving cream is not safe to eat, therefore we do not allow it in our classrooms.


It is really important for teachers to be sitting on the floor or at the child’s level while children are engaged in these activities. A teacher should always be interacting and supervising during this time.

Children at this age also love playing outdoors. Remember to include outdoor play in your daily schedule.

Circle time for older infants looks different than circle time for toddlers or preschoolers.This time is meant to introduce the older infants to the concept of participating in circle time. Circle Time for Infants is best done in a small group as their schedules allow. Stories, songs, and finger plays give infants the opportunity to experience a sense of belonging to a group and begin to learn the expectations of group activities.

Whether you have lots of experience working with infants or if you are new to this age group, no two days are the same.

This is what makes working in an infant classroom so much fun!

Activities for Younger Infants

When we refer to “younger infants” we are referring to babies from 6 weeks old to about 12 months old.


Watch the video below to learn more about activities for younger infants:


Babies benefit from personal touch and individualized attention. Infants love when you sit on the floor with them while they are playing. Teachers need do this as much as possible. Babies are happy knowing you are beside them. Throughout the day, we comfort babies often. We hold babies when they need comfort and as much and as often as possible to help with forming attachments. We always hold babies while feeding a bottle, unless they can feed themselves.

The Infant classroom is designed with the baby’s best interests in mind.

For example, toys and materials are easily accessible and always available. Babies love looking at themselves and other family members, therefore we have photos of families on the Family Tree in each classroom.

Playing music in the classroom is a great way to build musical appreciation, expose babies to a variety of musical styles, and build language as the teachers sing along.

Our curriculum is based on developmental milestones. Rolling over, learning to crawl, pulling up to a standing position, learning new sights and sounds, exploring the environment, and many more are skills that we assess on an ongoing basis. This assessment of children’s development helps guide our curriculum and classroom activities that we plan for the children.  Circle time for younger infants is not just sitting in a circle, it is sitting on the floor, reading books, singing songs, building language skills, and engaging the babies.

Sensory play is important for younger infants. Cool Whip, apple sauce, and non-toxic paint are all great learning tools. We expose babies to as many things as possible- textures, toys, books, music. Everything you introduce them to might be something they are seeing for the first time!

At this age, art projects that go home are meant for parent enjoyment. We know that infants learn from the process of creating more than the final product, and we also recognize that parents like to have tangible items as keepsakes! Parents will often keep these projects for a very long time, so we require that they are labeled with the child’s name, Dr. Day Care and the year they are completed.

It is important to ensure babies are not in a piece of equipment such as a swing for an extended length of time, which is why we limit equipment use to no more than 15 minutes. We want children to be able to freely explore their environment. Even though it seems to you that a baby is content in a swing for more than 15 minutes, that doesn’t mean it is something that is appropriate!

Teachers should consider a baby’s physical development when choosing equipment. For example, a child should be able to hold his or her head up well before using a Bumbo seat or exersaucer.  Infants should have tummy time at least 2-3 times a day for 3-5 minutes at a time, increasing this time as the baby builds upper body muscle skills. Floor time gives babies the opportunity to explore other learning activities in the classroom.  It is important that a baby should be placed on a blanket or play mat.

It is ok to go outside! This is important for a baby’s development, so we go outside as much as possible, ideally twice a day, weather permitting.

Every day is a new learning experience!

This age is full of “firsts” as babies are exposed to so many new opportunities to grow and learn!

Introduction to an Infant Model Classroom

This training course will demonstrate a developmentally appropriate learning environment for an Infant classroom. At Dr. Day Care, we refer to this as a Model Classroom. From this training, you will learn about the typical routines and daily expectations in an infant classroom.

Each lesson in this course will present information with a video and is followed with questions for you to answer.

Watch the video below to begin the course: