When you work in insti­tu­tion­al child­care (can I call them ‘day orphan­ages’?) there are many things that con­tribute to a child’s well being – or oth­er­wise.

Of course, the man­ners and atti­tudes of the staff play a big part in how a child behaves. It also mat­ters if staff por­trays an over­ly upbeat and cheer­ful approach to par­ents and then depicts the oppo­site once they are alone with the chil­dren. Con­sis­ten­cy real­ly mat­ters.

If you are all smiles to par­ents and then lat­er in the day throw their awk­ward or noisy child out­side most chil­dren will ‘get’ how you feel about them.

If on the oth­er hand you are fair­ly out­go­ing with both par­ents and chil­dren use your voice firm­ly when you are upset by a child’s behav­iour, as long as you are fair chil­dren, and their par­ents, will come to trust you more.

I fre­quent­ly reflect on the inabil­i­ty of many child­care work­ers to prop­er­ly clean a child who’s had a BM in their nap­py (dia­per). Chang­ing dirty nap­pies is some­thing ‘sus­pect’ child­care work­ers usu­al­ly don’t do, they avoid the job some­how. On the rare occa­sions that they do, often with their favoured child, they usu­al­ly add plen­ty of dra­ma to what they do, like say­ing “Oh my God” when they first open a soiled nap­py – such that every oth­er staff mem­ber thinks a child has fall­en and bro­ken a limb!

They have no con­cept that atti­tudes towards ear­ly chang­ing affects every child’s recep­tive­ness to toi­let learn­ing. Sim­ply say­ing at every change “Isn’t it nice to be dry?” con­firms to a child that it’s some­thing to aim for, excuse the pun!

Which is why I believe actu­al­ly know­ing that you have thor­ough­ly cleaned a child’s bot­tom (not just think­ing that you must have because you’ve used so many wipes — and don’t get me start­ed on using wipes instead of soap and water!) is crit­i­cal to that child’s hap­pi­ness dur­ing the day.

Since I usu­al­ly work the after­noon shift I fre­quent­ly have no idea if a child came into school with a nap­py rash. Any­one can quick­ly devel­op a rash when they aren’t prop­er­ly cleaned – why else do those in nurs­ing homes, or lying in hos­pi­tal beds for months, get bed­sores? My hus­band had bed­sores from his extend­ed hos­pi­tal stay, yet once he came home reg­u­lar bathing and treat­ment healed them up in no time, albeit his scars are per­ma­nent!

I’ve seen tod­dlers with scars from inad­e­quate nap­py chang­ing prac­tices and staff still say “but she was very sick at the time” — if I can keep a 14 stone (200+lb) bed­bound hand­i­capped man, and a 90 year old in an insti­tu­tion due to a stroke, clean by giv­ing them bed­baths just once a day, it is tru­ly pos­si­ble to keep babies clean!

A clean body is a calm and hap­py body – the age of that body does­n’t mat­ter!