A child's care needs will vary according to age, but it is important to remember that all children are individual and will therefore have differing needs. Children's needs reflect their physical, educational, emotional, social, and language development. "To achieve and maintain healthy growth and all-round (holistic) development, certain basic needs must be fulfilled. " (Bruce, T and Meggitt, C. 2005. p. 316). There are also additional needs that children require for a healthy development, but that are not essential for survival. At 0-1 all of a child's care needs will be met by the adult.
A baby needs enough food to nourish and allow development- physically and mentally. A baby's food and nutrients can be solely found in milk until approximately 6months. It is ideal to for a baby to receive breast milk, preferably by breast feeding as "human breast milk provides food constituents in the correct balance for human growth. " (Bruce, T and Meggitt, C. 2005. p. 334) However this is not always possible. Usually from 3months a baby is slowly weaned onto solid food to further their nutritional needs as milk alone will no longer be enough.
They won't actually be able to take solids until approximately 6months when they start to chew. Before this, food would need to be pureed for safety, and for encouragement of new tastes and textures. The feeding times of a baby also need to be considered. A baby also needs shelter and a safe environment in order to feel secure. Clothing for 0-1years needs to allow unrestricted movement, be easy to put on and off, be suitable to the environment and temperature, and be made of natural materials for the baby's skin to breathe.
Safety is also an important factor in clothing as ribbons and buttons could be choking hazards. Hygiene at this age involves bathing- in order to keep clean and prevent illness but it is not essential everyday for young babies. During bathing the baby's hair should also be washed. After each feed the nappy of a baby should be changed and it is necessary to be vigilant in this in order to avoid nappy rash. When teeth start to develop they should be cleaned twice a day with a minute amount of baby toothpaste.
Babies need a routine which is not rigid but which provides them with the continuity and security- a secure baby is a settled baby. " (Green, S. 2006. p. 165). To keep energy levels up and to prevent illness babies need a large amount of sleep, especially in the first few weeks. It is also important to ensure the baby gets fresh air and a moderate level of sunlight. Babies need this, again to prevent illness and help development. Stimulation is important to allow learning and encouragement and praise should be actively used.
Finally babies also need love and affection to promote bonding and it is essential for the healthy development and well-being at this age. At 1-3 children are still heavily dependant on the care giver but start to think about their own needs. They need frequent food and drink to keep them healthy and for their development. It is essential to ensure they are still receiving all the nutrients and vitamins needed. They will start to feed themselves using a spoon so the carer needs to allow the child to do this. A safe and secure environment and shelter is also a basic need.
A child's clothing at this stage needs to be suitable for surroundings and temperature, allow for growth, enable the child easy movement and to be durable. At the later stages of this age range children can start to help with their own hygiene but supervision is highly important. Daily bathing is preferable and again towards the later stages of this age range the needs will be different as the child will begin to wash themselves, with an adult just ensuring done correctly. Hair will need to be well cared for and brushed regularly.
When cleaning teeth children should be encouraged to do it but will still need an adult to brush them properly and regularly. Within this age range children go through potty training and throughout this they should be encouraged and praised in order for them to pick up on what is right. Children will need 10-12hours sleep a night and also sleep or rest during the day- this is essential to their health and for their energy. By now more activity outside in fresh air is required and free space to allow for vast movement and exercise is necessary.
The stimulation required at this age is gained through countless methods- fine and gross motor being just a few. Stimulation is essential in order to allow the child to learn and grow. Again love and affection is invaluable for bonding and the child's self belief and this is supported by encouragement and praise. At 3-5 children will be in foundation stage at nursery or school and they are able to control some of their independent needs. They are now are to feed and dress themselves, maybe just with help with shoelaces and top buttons.
Their food needs to be more varied and stronger flavours may be common place. They need regular meals and snacks to ensure healthy development and growth. Their clothes should be easy to put on/off to allow their independence in this, and clothing still needs to allow for growth and unrestricted movement. They can now take more responsibility in their hygiene and should have daily baths/showers where they wash themselves, although the carer should still check to ensure the child is clean. They may still need help in washing their hair and the carer needs to check for head lice at this stage.
Children's toilet needs are varied at this stage- they should be able to go to the toilet themselves but at the younger age will need supervision in ensuring they are clean. At the younger age they will also be making the transition from wearing a nappy at night, to none at all. The carer will need to be patient and provide encouragement and praise widely at this time for this to be a smoother process. Also children should be able to brush their own teeth but an adult will need to check it is done thoroughly and dental visits are now necessary every 6 months.
There will be no need for sleep during the day but quieter periods, perhaps reading sessions, should be encouraged. Now that they are in foundation stage some of their care needs will be met there- especially stimulation through play and learning. Outside play and activities are necessary for children to use energy and to help exercise. Again love and affection are still an important part of continuous bonding and praise and encouragement will actively help a child's self esteem and confidence in all areas. By age 5-8 children are generally independent overall.
They are aware of what food they want and how much, as well as what food is good for them and helps their development. They are able to dress and undress themselves and clothing with buttons and ties is no longer an issue. They still need a solid nights sleep in order for healthy development and preventing illness, and fresh air is an active part of their day without real awareness that it is necessary for good health, etc. Through encouragement and praise in earlier years children are now more confident and interact well with children and adults.
Praise and encouragement is still needed at all times though so that "children do not look for other ways of gaining attention" (Tassoni, P et Al. 2002. p. 286). Children need responsibilities- even just small tasks like tidying a play area will help their social skills and confidence develop further. Children should now only need to be reminded and praised about hygiene. They should have a higher level of privacy to wash, etc and be treated more autonomously. Love, affection and security are still vital needs and as the child may grow less 'cuddly' or affectionate the carer must still ensure the child feels loved and secure.