Routines = Curriculum


“The ideal is for the caregiver to use feeding, napping, and toileting or diapering routines as opportunities to build a close personal relationship with each child while attending to the child’s individual physical, emotional, and developmental needs... Routines are at the heart of infant/toddler care and a major part of the curriculum” (p. xi).

“During feeding, diapering, washing, and dressing, the child learns many things not necessarily related to the specific lesson of the routines such as:
- Security and self-esteem
- Pleasure and tactile stimulation
- A sense of time and space and rhythms
- Independence and competence
- Cognitive and language skills”
(p. xi)

CA Dept. of Ed and WestEd (2002). Infant/toddler caregiving: A guide to routines, 2nd. ed..  Sacramento, CA.


• Approach personal care routines as opportunities for warm, cooperative interactions and communication.
• Understand and incorporate family preferences into personal care routines.
• Encourage children’s participation in caregiving routines.
• Organize in advance the equipment and supplies needed for routines so that full attention can be given to the child.

(California Department of Education, 2006, p. 64)

Reference: California Department of Education (2006).  Infant/Toddler Learning & Development Program
.  Retrieved from


Steps open out of a cabinet, leading up to a diaper changing counter.
Children can climb up steps to the diaper changing area, making them active participants in the diapering process.

Two children sit at a table with food on plates in front of them.
Children may serve themselves snack.

Bins with children's names and faces in a cubby area of a classroom.
One cubby for each child gives a child a place to put extra clothing and special items, which are reachable by the child throughout the day.

Three low toilets in a bathroom area with animal pictures above each toilet.
Toilets, when down low, can give children independence while toileting.

Low basin sink with water fountain, one faucet, and a soap dispenser.
Low sinks and soap dispensers give children an opportunity to wash their hands when needed.

A Story:

Mr. Evan knows how important it is for toddlers to feel safe and involved during routine parts of the day.  In the toddler classroom, a big part of the routine is diaper-changing.  Clarice has a diaper that needs changing.  Mr. Evan squats next to her and says, “Your diaper needs changing.  When you are finished with the puzzle, let’s go change your diaper.”  Clarice places the last piece of the puzzle into the hole.  Mr. Evan puts out his hand to Clarice.  Clarice takes Mr. Evan’s hand.  They walk together, hand in hand, to the bathroom area.  Mr. Evan pulls out a set of stairs from a cabinet that lead to the diaper-changing spot.  Clarice holds the side and steps up the stairs, laying herself down onto the changing table when she gets to the top.  Mr. Even keeps a hand on her back the whole time to insure safety.  When at the top, Mr. Evan says, “Clarice, will you please hold your diaper for me?”  Clarice reaches her hands out and holds the diaper.  Mr. Evan talks with Clarice as he puts on his gloves and gets the bag ready for the diaper.  He says, “Clarice, I saw you working hard on that puzzle.  It had animals on it.  What was your favorite animal?” Clarice says, “moooooo.”  Mr. Evan replies, “oh the cow?”  Mr. Evan then says, “Okay, Clarice, I am going to take off your diaper now and wipe your bottom.”  Clarice scrunches her face.  Mr. Evan says, “I know, it’s cold.”  Clarice says, “cowd.”  Mr. Evan asks Clarice to hand him the clean diaper.  Clarice hands it to Mr. Evan.  Clarice says, “pull up, pull up.”  Mr. Evan says, “yes, now I pull up your pants, will you help me?”  Mr. Evan helps her down to the floor so she can pull up her pants with a little assistance from Mr. Evan.  Mr. Evan says, “let’s wash our hands together now.”  Clarice turns on the water at the child-sized sink.  Mr. Evan turns on the other faucet on the child-sized sink.  He bends over and washes hands with Clarice.  After they sing “happy birthday” together while washing hands, Clarice returns to the puzzle area.  (Please note that some aspects of the process were removed to keep the story shorter.  The teacher followed all health and safety procedures and disinfected the area appropriately.)

Test Your Knowledge
This quiz will help you see what you have learned about routines in infant/toddler care.  After taking the quiz, more information about the answers will be provided.  You can go to or click the link below.

Related Website:

Gonzalez-Mena, J. (2004).  What can an orphanage teach us?  Lessons from Budapest.  Beyond the Journal: Young
        Children on the Web.
 Retrieved from