Many infant care centres in Singapore have adopted a holistic approach to their curriculum and pedagogy so the infant can grow well into childhood and teenage years. Commonly known as holistic development, it refers to the social, emotional, physical, mental, and intellectual growth of a child.

Why is holistic development important? In order for the child to reach their full potential, all aspects of their development must be taken into consideration besides academic education. Holistic development means the whole child is developed and helps to encourage individuality as well as build competence. It exposes children to learning opportunities, enables them to discover and maximise their strengths and improve their weaknesses. 

What Do Babies Learn In Their First Year?

In the first year, babies learn how to focus their vision, explore and learn about the things around them. Cognitive development refers to the learning process of language, thinking, memory and reasoning. Beyond making sounds, learning language is about listening, understanding, and knowing the names of people and things. 

The first year is a foundational year for babies to form bonds of trust and love with their parents as well as others as part of their social and emotional development. The way parents hold, cuddle and play with their babies will set the tone for how they interact with them and others. Therefore quality infant care is critical during the child’s early years.       

Food During Infant Care

Infants can be exposed to solid foods when they are around 6 months old. When they reach 7 or 8 months old, they can eat a variety of foods from different food groups. These foods include infant cereals, meat or other proteins, vegetables, grains, fruits, yoghurt, cheeses and more. If the child is eating infant cereals, it is recommended to take a variety of fortified infant cereals such as barley, oats and multi-grain so they have balanced nutrition overall and protects them against issues that may emerge with one ingredient. 

At Tots & Teddies, we believe in providing a diverse (local and international flavours), delicious and balanced menu that meets the majority of children’s nutritional requirements to support the overall wellbeing of the children under our care. 

Adhering to both national and international guidelines for the provision of meals in early childhood education and care services, our menu and healthy eating policy are designed and developed by a Paediatric Nutritionist and Dietician. 

We use quality ingredients – from cage free eggs and antibiotic-free chicken through to fresh Barramundi, Salmon and greek yoghurt. Our meals comprise whole grain carbohydrates, fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, dairy products and healthy fats so we can provide the children with maximum nutrition for minimal use of added sugar, salt, saturated fats and processed foods. 

We also make our own pasta, waffles, peanut butter and bread to ensure they are made of high quality ingredients and are fresh every day. Water and fresh milk are our drinks of choice along with the occasional inclusion of freshly prepared yoghurt and acai based smoothies. Additionally, we make our own in-house soyabean milk. Meals are prepared fresh on site on a daily basis including accommodating special dietary needs. Our menu is rotated on a 4-week cycle basis and for infants, we offer an age-appropriate nutrition menu with a range of pureed, mixed texture and finger foods to ensure happy and healthy eating habits.

infant care

Top 10 Benefits Of A Holistic Approach To Infant Care

1. A child is perceived as a whole person

It is important to consider and develop the five senses of a child during the first year of infant care. They cannot be learning all day long as they need to work on their motor skills and other types of skills including crawling, walking, turning around, gripping objects, feeding themselves, playing and smiling. Research has shown that children who play and move their bodies on a regular basis grow up happier and healthier. 

Educators take infant care seriously and consider the social, emotional, cognitive, physical and linguistic growth that the child experiences. They monitor continuously so they can determine and nurture the child’s learning effectively in each area. With holistic support in infant care, the child’s learning experience empowers them to stretch themselves mentally and will feel happier, healthier as well as enable them to take on cognitive challenges in the classroom.      

2. The approach is child-oriented

When the holistic approach is used in infant care, it means that we treat them as unique individuals who deserve the same level of respect and attention as any other person because they are seen as a whole person. Hence we need to put ourselves in their shoes and consider how they think and understand what is around them.

Things such as eating together seem natural to adults but might be a novel experience for them as children do not have the same understanding about certain events in life. They need to learn the customs, manners and expectations and this is what educators in infant care do – help them to understand the situation and what they should do at meal times and why.    

3. Focuses on the child’s overall well being

The traditional approach is focused on academic success but the holistic approach places great emphasis on the child’s overall wellbeing. Meaning if the child cannot achieve their learning goals, educators will take it as an opportunity to find out what might be affecting their learning ability. It could be factors such as stressful situations at home or they feel unwell that day. 

In a nutshell, their social, emotional, physical and intellectual health are taken into account when it comes to evaluating their learning ability. By doing this, it makes children feel supported and cared for every day because their overall wellbeing is prioritised over academic learning which often results in increased motivation and empowerment to do better. 

4. Instil confidence in the child

Encouraging children to practise their skills in all areas helps them to develop and instil confidence. Eg. A child might not do well academically as another child which might make them feel bad about themselves and this leads to a lack of confidence because they feel they are below par with their peers. 

However, in an environment where holistic development is encouraged, the child would be able to practise their skills in other areas which they are able to excel such as sports or art. It makes them feel confident and they are not lacking behind in any way with their peers. Educators who are trained in holistic infant care understand that each child is unique and develops at their own pace.  

infant care

5. Encourages the child’s active participation 

It is innate for children to want to be a part of what they see around them from a young age. They are inquisitive and are enthusiastic about exploring as well as learning new things. A holistic approach takes advantage of this energy! The traditional approach is created for children to learn from the teacher.

In holistic development, learning is fostered for everyone. It is a two way learning – the children can learn from the teacher and vice versa. It encourages children to speak up and contribute to the conversations in class, depending on prior knowledge and experiences to enrich their learning. Active participation helps the children to develop positive self esteem and contributes to their wellbeing overall. Letting children make decisions and perform tasks by themselves empower them and increase their sense of self as competent members of society.

6. Understand big concepts

Instead of focusing on the nitty gritty, teachers focus on helping children to see the big picture by engaging them in simple activities such as gathering leaves, sticks and stones. The children might be asked to count and then sort them or create a sequence.

While this activity fosters mathematical thinking that is a typical academic skill, children learn faster because they get to practise it in a fun and engaging manner. Teaching them outdoors instead of a fixed classroom makes them relax and enables them to learn the skills to apply in real life.   

7. Use their reasoning skills

To develop the children’s reasoning skills, project-based learning is usually used to help them practise in multiple learning areas at once. Children will learn how to reason and solve problems because they have to make decisions about different aspects of their projects. 

An example could be creating a puppet theatre. The teacher introduces the idea and asks the children to think about the storyline. By working on the plot together, it hones their listening, speaking and negotiating skills. Additionally, the children also get to practise their fine motor skills, creativity and problem solving abilities by matching the characters against the storyline they created. This allows the children to become proficient in many skills in one setting. 

8. Motivating for children

A holistic approach in infant care means that learning takes place everywhere and anytime be it going for a walk, eating, playing or even dressing up. That is why teachers often encourage children to ask questions about what they find interesting and together, they will look for the answers in a hands-on and interactive way. 

For subjects like Science where the lesson is usually held in a classroom, adopting a holistic approach can be bringing them outdoors to engage in experiments so they are active agents in their learning process. Because it is not the usual fixed environment, children are more motivated to learn. 

9. Broadens the children’s horizons

With holistic development in mind, teachers help children develop their sense of cultural identity by focusing on their cultural backgrounds and heritage. Having good communication skills and interactions with others help them build local and intercultural relationships as well as identities. This allows them to broaden their horizons and promotes their overall wellbeing and performance over time. 

Better interaction is fostered through understanding their own backgrounds and others as well as learning to respect the different backgrounds and cultures. These are usually done through play, games and celebrations to help them adapt and live inclusively despite the diverse backgrounds and cultures. This helps to build a positive self image and self esteem.  

10. Helps to foster interaction with others

In today’s diverse society, children need to grow and develop culturally, socially and linguistically which require strong global citizenship skills. They are active listening, recognising and understanding different perspectives as well as the ability to recognise and reflect upon personal opinions. 

A holistic approach will create a foundation for these skills so it is critical to start early from infant care so as the children grow, they are able to express themselves and understand others better. Awareness of the world and important topics such as sustainability can be built as well as their part in contributing to the community when they play an active role.  

In summary, adopting a holistic approach to infant care helps children to build strong internal values and instil confidence, resulting in a strong positive self image and self esteem. It promotes their overall wellbeing and proficiency in different skills as well as being able to connect well with others in a diverse and inclusive world. At Tots & Teddies, we ensure every child feels important, heard, understood and protected by providing quality teacher-child ratios as well as limiting our class sizes. 

We believe less noise, overstimulation and confusion will allow for greater capacity to develop positive identities in the children under our care. We cater for children from 2 months to 12 years of age. By partnering with parents, we create the best environment for children to grow and flourish as well-rounded, inquisitive, caring and confident individuals.  

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