Tips for Family, Friends and Neighbors Caring for Kids During the Pandemic

Thank you for providing loving care for children during this time of crisis. Your part is important and necessary! There is less risk of transmitting Coronavirus in small family groups than in group child care settings—less people = less risk. While this article focuses on parents, we think its message is important for extended families and loved ones providing care to young children, too.

Health

We all know the drill! Be sure you and the children now in your care are washing their hands and then washing some more! If you take them out, encourage them to stay six feet away from others and avoid touching their faces! Bring hand sanitizer along and apply frequently. Below you will find helpful links -and a fun video- about handwashing to share with the children. CCR has a fun handwashing video.

More guidance from the Centers for Disease Control about how to minimize risk here.

Frequently cleaning and sanitizing toys, eating surfaces and surfaces that are often touched is necessary. You can use sanitizing wipes, spray or you can make your own solution by adding 1 teaspoon of regular, unconcentrated bleach to one quart of water. This solution is safe for food surfaces but be careful not to spray any sanitizing solution around the kids! A stronger, disinfecting solution can be made with 4 teaspoons bleach to 1 quart of water. This solution is not safe for food contact surfaces.

More details here.

Safety

Make sure your home and yard are safe for little ones! If you have any concerns, check out these household safety checklists.

Safety includes safe sleep for infants. The risk of SIDS increases when a baby is sleeping in an unfamiliar environment. View this resource for how to create a safe sleep environment.

CCR has a safe sleep video too. This was designed for child care providers. We know families do not check on sleeping infants every 15 minutes and that you rely on baby monitors. The rules are different in child care settings, so don’t be concerned about that part of our video.

Guiding Behavior

The children in your care are likely used to their routines at school, preschool or even an infant/toddler program. Knowing what to expect makes a child’s day predictable. Children feel secure and are less likely to display challenging behaviors when their daily routine is predictable. Now everything has changed, but the more predictability you can provide the children in your care, the less frustration you and the children will experience. Just as important is positive guidance. This includes establishing clear routines, boundaries and modeling kindness and respect to children. What this looks like varies depending on the child’s age.

Routines: Some things you can do to establish routines and why you might want to establish routines.

Positive Guidance: The video below explains what positive guidance is and how to incorporate positive guidance into your caregiving. CDC provides some more information on positive guidance depending on the age of the child(ren) for whom you are caring.

Worried about how to teach the children in your care? Don’t worry! Let them play! As Fred Rogers said, “Play is really the work of childhood.” Don’t forget that gross motor (big movement) is important for all children once they are able to move around. It’s ok to go on a walk or to a park. Outdoor play structures are not sanitized so you can’t use them. You can play tag, catch, or run races outdoors. And this will help burn off energy and stress.

More about what young children are learning during play here.

Below are some resources and activities for the children in your care:

Nutrition

Given stay at home orders, do your best to serve healthy meals with an emphasis on fruit, vegetables and protein. Minimize carbohydrates and stay away from sugar. Sugar tends to lead to hyper behavior and then energy crashes, not what you need right now. Most kids love to cook. Here are some ideas.

Finally remember, drink plenty of water and offer it to the kids too! Mild dehydration reduces concentration, alertness and short-term memory in children so make sure they are drinking water throughout the day.

Mental Health

Remember, caring for children is often exhausting. It’s also emotional work. Make sure to take some time out to care for yourself. View this resource for ideas for you and the children in your care to de-stress.