When it’s time to leave her baby at the infant care centre, a thousand odd doubts usually crop up in a working mummy’s head. “What if she refuses the bottle? There are so many babies here, are they even going to notice him? What if he falls? Is she going to miss me? I hope she won’t hate me for this?”
Well mummies, relax. We decided to ask Madam Intan Binte Ismail, Infant Educarer at NTUC My First Skool @ Block 742 Woodlands Circle, on what it means to be an infant educarer and what your baby is usually up to in an infant care centre.
Madam Intan starts off with, “Not many people will see an Infant Educarer as a Professional but I am proud to say that I have never ever regretted being one. It has been a wonderful journey and a good learning experience for me”, she says.
Life as an infant educarer
Image source: iStock
But doesn’t she ever get stressed amidst all the confusion and chaos of an infant care centre? “There are challenges in every workplace and as an infant educarer, our main challenge is to gain trust from our parents.”
“Parents look forward for alternative care but they also have doubts about leaving their young infants in group care. We work towards building a trusting relationship with both the infants as well as with the parents. Respect is the key in this relationship. ”
The prepared environment is vital in infant care. The educarer, as a constant observer, must know the needs of each infant and plan carefully so that those needs can be met.
Madam Intan elaborates,”We spend the whole day making sure the routines such as, feeding, napping and diapering are well taken care of. On top of that, we plan activities that cater to their milestones and interests.We interact with them, we attend to their needs promptly and that helps to build the trust between infants and their educarers, and by talking and interacting with them daily, we are developing their language skills too.”
Do parents trust her?
Parents these days seem to be torn between choosing a maid and opting for infant care, when it comes to looking after their babies. Does she ever feel overburdened by the weight of these parental expectations?
To that she replies, ”We need to be professional by constantly assuring parents that their child is in good hands.We do that by keeping our communication channels open, we answer their queries, we keep them updated about the day’s happenings and display photos of infants in action at the parents’ corner.”
“Parents’ anxieties will gradually be reduced when they see that their child’s well-being is our priority. Their trust will be built over time, some take 2-3 months, while some may take as long as 1 year. It is our responsibility to continue to work towards gaining their trust.”
Challenges as an infant educarer
Still, we wonder if there have been rough days, when the going got really tough? “Some interesting situations that I remember were with infants who were fully breastfed before joining our infant care. The mums especially had so much anxiety when they went back to work, for fear that the infant would refuse taking the bottle.”
Image source: iStock
”I would calm the infant by singing nursery rhymes and walking with the infant in my arms. I remember I had to patiently feed these fully breastfed infants milk by alternating between using the spoon as well as with the bottle.”
“Lots of patience is needed. Never give up is the key. When we finally succeeded in bottle feeding the infants, we could see the joy on the parents’ faces,” she reminisces.
Hard work gets recognised by the Leading Foundation
Well, all that hard work did not go unnoticed, for Madam Intan was awarded the Leading Foundation Teacher Award (LFTA) last year. For the uninitiated, the Leading Foundation Teacher Award is an initiative by the Leading Foundation which supports programmes in education and leadership. It is administered by the Community Foundation of Singapore, a non-profit philanthropic organisation that bridges donors with community needs.
The LFTA recognises passionate and dedicated teachers who have made significant contributions to the care and teaching of children in the fields of early childhood and special needs education.
Madam Intan confides, “I never thought that I would receive a National award and I feel honoured, glad and thankful to those who believed in me and affirmed my role as an infant educarer.”
“This award spurred me to think about upgrading myself and I made the decision to further my studies. I am now 5 months into the ACEY (Advanced Certificate in Early Years) course and still full of enthusiasm in what I am doing.”
How to keep going
One cannot help but admire her unbridled enthusiasm and passion for her work. So what is is her secret recipe for success? ”What keeps me going on is the people around me. The positive vibes and encouragement of my colleagues, friends and lecturers have helped me through.”
“It is a joy witnessing an infant’s very first effort to roll their bodies, to crawl and walk, and to be able to share their achievements with the parents. It is very personal for me to be able to see them achieving the different milestones from as young as 3 months to an 18 month old independent toddler. Everyday is a special day to me.”
Show them you care
Madam Intan’s is just one heartwarming story in an ocean of many others. We now know that, a lot of thought and planning goes into looking after each baby. There are thousands of unsung hero(ine)s in the childcare industry, who slog their hearts out, just to make sure your baby is doing fine, when you get back to work.
They might not have won any awards, but each of them is special. And if it weren’t for women like them, most mothers would have had to sit at home, or rely solely on maids, for childcare.
So next time you see your baby’s caregiver, smile. Make sure she is appreciated and trusted. If there are issues, discuss them constructively. For she has looked after your baby in your absence, and for that alone, she deserves all your encouragement and applause.
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