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Foundation: Understanding Personal Care Routines

California Infant/Toddler Learning & Development Foundations.
Important Notice: Programs Moved to CDSS

While the California Department of Education continues to operate the California State Preschool Program, the Early Childhood Development Act of 2020 (Senate Bill (SV) 98, Chapter 24, Statutes of 2020) authorized the transfer of many childcare programs from the California Department of Education to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) effective July 1, 2021. The content on this page may include programs that have moved to CDSS. For additional assistance you can either visit the CDSS Child Care Transition web page External link opens in new window or tab. or call 1-833-559-2420 for more information.

The developing ability to understand and participate in personal care routines
8 months 18 months 36 months

At around eight months of age, children are responsive during the steps of personal care routines. (CDE 2005)

At around 18 months of age, children show awareness of familiar personal care routines and participate in the steps of these routines. (CDE 2005)

At around 36 months of age, children initiate and follow through with some personal care routines. (CDE 2005)

For example, the child may:

  • Turn head away as the infant care teacher reaches with a tissue to wipe the child’s nose. (8 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 20)

  • Kick legs in anticipation of a diaper change and then quiet down as the parent wipes the child’s bottom. (CDE 2005)

  • Pay attention to her hands as the infant care teacher holds them under running water and helps rub them together with soap. (CDE 2005)

For example, the child may:

  • Go to the sink when the infant care teacher says that it is time to wash hands. (Scaled score of 10 for 17:16–18:15 mos.; Bayley 2006, 90; 12–18 mos.; Lerner and Ciervo 2003; 12 mos.; Coplan 1993, 2; by 24 mos.; American Academy of Pediatrics 2004; 24 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 46)

  • Get a tissue when the infant care teacher says, “Please go get a tissue. We need to wipe your nose.” (18 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 36)

  • Move toward the door to the playground after seeing the infant care teacher put his coat on. (18 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 38)

  • Put snack dishes in the sink and the bib in the hamper after eating.

  • Have trouble settling down for a nap until the infant care teacher reads a story, because that is the naptime routine. (12–18 mos.; Parks 2004, 317)

For example, the child may:

  • Go to the sink and wash hands after seeing snacks being set out on the table. (CDE 2005)

  • Get a tissue to wipe own nose or bring the tissue to the infant care teacher for help when the child feels that his nose needs to be wiped. (CDE 2005)

  • Take a wet shirt off when needing to put on a dry one. (36 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 76)

  • Help set the table for lunchtime. (36 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 77)

Behaviors leading up to the foundation (4 to 7 months)

During this period, the child may:

  • Anticipate being fed upon seeing the infant care teacher approach with a bottle.

  • Hold onto the bottle while being fed by the infant care teacher. (4 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 14)

Behaviors leading up to the foundation (9 to 17 months)

During this period, the child may:

  • Cooperate during a diaper change by lifting her bottom. (10.5–12 mos.; Parks 2004)

  • Grab the spoon as the infant care teacher tries to feed the child. (12 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 31)

  • Raise arms when the infant care teacher tries to put a dry shirt on the child. (12 mos.; Meisels and others 2003)

Behaviors leading up to the foundation (19 to 35 months)

During this period, the child may:

  • Drink from a cup without spilling much. (24 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 52)

  • Try to put on own socks. (24 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 52)

  • Pull her shoes off at naptime. (24 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 52)

References for the Cognitive Development Domain

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Questions:   Early Education and Support Division | itfoundations@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Thursday, June 17, 2021
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