Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) is individualized, responsive care that is just right for the child’s age, cultural context, and personality.   During the first three years, Infants and toddlers are developing at a fast pace. For example,  the physical development of babies-hold up their heads, then sit, crawl, stand, walk, within the first year of life. Brain development is continues as activities used to develop language, social-emotional skills, approaches to learning are explored.. The child’s brain is creating and strengthening connections in response to their experiences.

Caregivers develop trust with child which makes a difference in the child’s life. Young children begin to build relationships with caregivers.  It is important for the caregiver to be responsive  to the child. Responsive care giving is when the adults read the cues infant or toddler and  respond in nurturing ways. Because relationships are so important in the lives of infants and toddlers, having responsive, loving, nurturing relationships are the most important part of developmentally appropriate practice.


When caring for infants and toddlers, continuity of care  is the best practice.  Child Care Programs strive to have the the same teacher or home visitor work with the family for at least a year.  Parents are the first teacher to the child, so thee relationship between the teacher and the family focuses on continuity from home to child care setting.

Primary caregiver supports the ongoing relationship between the caregiver, the child, and the family. The caregiver and the child begin to form a bond. The child may prefer their primary person when they feel distressed. The Families have the opportunity to build relationships with caregivers. As relationships build with the family, they will begin to feel even more comfortable sharing information about their child and themselves.