The Environment in an Infant Toddler Classroom

by Janice Barnett, Infant/Toddler Specialist

According to the Program for Infant Toddler Care

The caregiving environment provides the setting in which the infant or toddler spends large amounts of time. The environment’s ability to meet the growing child’s physical, emotional, social, and cognitive needs is critical. Caregivers have many options in designing the setting so that it meets the child’s needs for safety, health, security, and comfort.

The physical environment has a powerful influence over both children and adults. Young infants and toddlers are limited in their ability to leave or change their environment at the same time that they are particularly vulnerable to its effects. Child care environments for infants and toddlers need to support comfort and well-being in the daily activities of both children and caregivers.

The infant/toddler caregiving environment should:
1. Ensure safety
2. Promote health
3. Provide comfort
4. Be convenient
5. Be child-sized
6. Maximize flexibility
7. Encourage movement
8. Allow for choice

It is important to keep in mind that young infants need security, mobile infants need opportunities to explore, and older infants need to be able to express growing independence.