Care Moments

Throughout a child’s day, children experience many moments of care between them and
their parent/educator/caregiver. These special moments are commonly referred to as routines, but at a much deeper level, these are sacred moments shared with a loving, respectful adult who is fully present and engaged in the moment. Care moments can be a change of nappy, sitting down to eat, getting dressed, being supported to sleep, or any other intimate moment that requires care for a child.

While engaging in care moments, we as adults need to be mindful of our own movements, slow down and ensure the child feels involved and respected. The child is then more engaged, and will enjoy spending this special time with you. Imagine attending a doctor’s appointment where the doctor checked you over with no thought about your feelings, no conversation, no care? How would this make you feel? It is the same with children.

♥ Children who are consistently handled with kind hands and good humour are far more likely to radiate those gifts back to the world – Brainwave Trust ♥

We need to ensure we give them the respect they deserve and show love and kindness.
When this happens, the child becomes emotionally satisfied and the relationship between the caregiver and the child is cemented in trust and reciprocity.

An emotionally satisfied child feels secure in themselves and is happy to explore, play, and be involved, as they know all their needs will be met from a responsive adult.

The presence of respectful care, natural unfolding, and offering an unhurried pace, is especially crucial in a child’s early learning stage when they are developing a sense of self, as well as making sense of the world around them.


By offering choice and our calm respectful presence, we empower children and communicate that their needs, feelings, and interests are important and worthy of respect – setting them up for life-long learning and a healthy self-esteem.

Take a nappy change for example – it is estimated that a child may have up to 5,000 changes in their lifetime! Imagine if all these opportunities for relationship building and learning were wasted or lost? Inviting the child to transition from playing into a care moment is a way to show that you respect what they are doing in their play.

Imagine if you were deep in thought and someone whipped you away, and plopped you
on a nappy changing table. An invitation can be as simple as getting down  to the child’s level, asking them if they are ready to engage in the care moment, or simply outstretching your hands with palms facing up. This works particularly well with infants. All you need to do is simply pause and wait for a response, whether this is verbal or non-verbal.

A young child may shake their head and tell you they are not ready, whereas an infant may turn their body towards you or hold their hands out to you. By taking this approach, slowly in time, you will find you will begin to read children’s non-verbal cues, listen to what they are saying, and respect them as little people with feelings and emotions, just like us.

For infants, care and education are inseparable because valuable learning is taking place during routine care times and this learning is hindered if the child does not have a strong reciprocal and consistent relationship with the person who is caring for them. In being cared for, the infant is learning to care for others.

The Pikler Collection

Freedom of Movement

As children grow, they experience many developmental changes and milestones. As they reach each of these milestones, they begin a new stage of learning and development. Navigating these transitions can be tricky for children, families, whānau, and educators.
“Knowing about children’s development can help us understand how children respond to transition. In addition, when educators collaborate with families, they can learn how individual children experience change. Educators can also learn how to help children feel secure and comfortable during transition.”

Ko te Tamaiti te Pu – take o te Kaupapa
The Child – the Heart of the Matter
ERO, 2015

Learning how to move their body is one of the biggest and ongoing developmental challenges children face. From learning to roll from side to side, crawling, walking,
running and jumping, all requires development of gross motor skills, co-ordination, concentration, confidence and determination.

In order for children to master these skills, it is fundamental that they experience as much freedom of movement as possible during their day. One of the key principles of Dr Emmi Pikler was that infants are never put into a position which they cannot get into by themselves. This includes resisting the urge to prop infants up into a sitting position, before they have the strength to do this on their own.


“Whilst learning to turn on the belly, to roll, creep, sit, stand and walk, (the baby) is not only learning those movements but also how to learn. He learns to do something on his own, to be interested, to try out, to experiment. He learns to overcome difficulties. He comes to know the joy and satisfaction which is derived from this success, the result of his patience and persistence.”
Dr Emmi Pikler

With a vast array of infant ‘equipment’ available on the market, it is easy to get confused as to what an infant may need. While there is definitely a need for this ‘equipment’ ie: a car seat while traveling in a car, sometimes it can be more about convenience as opposed to what is good for an infant’s development. As famously said by the Beatles, “All you need is love”, is actually quite true. All infants really need to foster their physical
development is loving attentive parents/whānau and caregivers, a safe space on the floor to explore how their body moves, and time.

According to Emmi Pikler, the natural rhythm of how nature intended an infant to learn how to move is;

  • Turning the head from side to side
  • Practices movements of the hands
  • Turns on the side
  • Turning on the belly
  • Turns back
  • Stretching
  • Rolling
  • Creeping on the belly and on all fours
  • Getting up into the vertical
  • Sitting
  • Standing up
  • Standing up alone – without holding on
  • Walking about on their own

Written by Rockmybaby