Teacher-Child Relationships

Responsive, sensitive relationships with educators allow for infants and toddlers to learn and grow across all areas of development

Teacher smiling at older infant

At a Glance

When infants and toddlers feel safe and connected, they are more able to explore and engage in the world around them. They take appropriate risks, try new things, and show increased self-reliance, persistence, compliance, and focus. When teachers anticipate issues and/or calmly address them when they occur, young children are more able to quickly re-engage in an activity. Both infants and toddlers use their relationships with educators as a model when learning to communicate and relate to others. They seek out educators to help them when they encounter problems or when they need comfort, support, or guidance.

What It Looks Like

Ways you can make a young infant or toddler feel welcomed and supported

Engage in Conversation

Engaging in social conversation, like this educator does during center time, can be a great way to get to know children and stay connected.

Be a Resource

Be available and ready to respond to young children when they ask for help. This lets them know that you are a trusted adult that they can count on.

Join in Children's Play

It may sound simple, but joining in with children’s play is a great way to foster engagement and build relationships.


Serve and Return Interactions

Serve and return interactions literally shape brain architecture! When you engage with a child in back-and-forth interactions that are supportive, attentive, and responsive, it builds a strong relationship and creates a lasting foundation for future development. Learn 5 simple steps to engage in “serve and return” with infants and toddlers.  

young girl and toddler reading book


Taking Care of Ourselves

When educators manage their stress, they can support children who experience trauma more effectively. This practical activity guide provides ways to cope with stress and prioritize self-care.


Confronting our Biases

This NAEYC article shares some key steps educators can use to reflect on and address bias in infant and toddler programs.


Baby's First Words

Written by Stella Blackstone and Sunny Scribens and illustrated by Christiane Engel, this book captures a day in the life of young toddler. It features colorful illustrations and simple labels that are perfect for following children’s lead as they explore familiar objects, places, and actions.

Baby's First Words Book Cover

Activity Cards for Infant and Toddler Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, activity cards provide simple and fun ways you can build relationships with older infants and toddlers
Conversation Starter Icon
talk together

Conversation Starters

Kick off a conversation with these simple questions.

Classroom Songs Icon
sing together

Our Classroom Songs

Choose several simple songs to sing together at specific times of day.

mirror play icon
play together

Mirror Play

Find a mirror game your students will love to play together.

relate card that says hello goodbye
greet each other

Hello, Goodbye!

Make greeting each other a memorable part of the classroom day!


Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of the Core Skills