Preparing Early Childhood Professionals for Relationship-Based Work with Infants

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This qualitative multicase study explored the process through which three student caregivers engaged in relationships with key infants in the context of an infant practicum course as a foundation for learning about infant development and practice. Focusing on caregiver–infant dyads, data sources included videotaped observations of caregiver–child interactions across three time points in a semester, and student caregivers’ weekly reflective notebooks and assignments. Findings from this study revealed the power and value of relationships as an essential context for learning about infant development, infant care and education, and preparation of infant professionals. Ample time and supported opportunities to develop authentic relationships with infants and their families, and a framework for reflection on relationships and practice were provided through a well-constructed and supervised infant practicum, which is recommended for both early childhood preservice students and those preparing for related disciplines. Our findings suggest that infant caregiving provides valuable professional knowledge which can be applied across the early childhood continuum.



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