Responsive Caregiving


Raising a child means not only meeting their basic needs but also being sensitive towards every action of the child. Along with nutrition and good health, love and affection are also very important. The initial stages of the child’s life are extremely crucial in terms of his/ her development. If the child receives love, affection, encouragement, appreciation, it boosts child development. For that, it is very important for the parents to recognize the needs of the child. The child may have many needs, e.g. feeling hungry, to play and talk, receiving affectionate caresses, basic hygiene, sleep, changing wet clothes, and so on. It is a sign of responsive parenting that these needs are sensitively recognized by the caregiver through movements or actions, and also promptly responding.

Responsive parenting is when the parent / caregiver recognizes the child's needs through her/his movements, gestures, eyes and voice, and responds quickly to what the child is trying to say and fulfill her/his needs. For instance, if the little baby is looking at the mother and raising hands, child is trying to say ‘take me closer’; the mother should be able to recognize this and take the baby closer immediately.

Becoming a Responsive Parent…

Since the child’s mind is fickle and curious, they cannot do any single task for a long span of time. The child’s actions change with age; as the child is growing, she/he learns to different activities. Through every task and action, the child learns new skills and gains experience. For this, it is important that parents provide the opportunity to the child so that child should be able to play freely and comfortably. This will help the child come up with newer ideas by thinking or imagining independently.


For this, the parents should observe the actions of the child with patience and help them if necessary. Involving your child in family discussions as a family member, respecting his or her preferences, choices, and opinions helps them develop a sense of independence. Responsive parents talk to baby right from the moment of conception, they respond to child immediately after the birth, they communicate with the child by smiling, mimicking voices and gestures, and so on. It is of crucial importance that the parents give time to child. Spending time with your child does not only mean playing or talking them, but also recognizing the child’s feelings and actions and responding to them. Parents should cuddle, caress, and respond affectionately to every action of child right from birth. The child feels safe when parents hold, kiss, and care. The child feels safer through these touches of affection and it promotes development. 

The cycle of parental reactions to a child's actions

In the figure above, children show different needs through various movements and actions. On identifying the specific needs of the child, the parents respond to it as promptly as possible. When the child’s need is met, the child gives a reaction to it and then, the parents respond appropriately to the response given by the child. This kind of activity takes place constantly between the child and the parent.

Is the caregiver responsive? To know this, ask yourself the following questions:


Does the caregiver provide opportunities for age appropriate child activity?


Does the caregiver is able to recognize the cues for the child's needs?


Do the caregiver ignore the child's wrong doings?


Is the caregiver able to identify the various needs of the child, such as hunger, need to play, need to talk...


Does the caregiver respond sensitively to every action of the child?


Does the caregiver encourage and appreciate child’s activities?


Does the caregiver play and communicate with the child?

The caregiver needs to think by answering above questions and improve to become responsive parent.

The Positive Effects of Responsive Parenting on A Child

In order to create stability, balance and equality in the society, it is very important to be sensitive towards children from today itself!  And for this, it is crucial to adopt and implement this concept of responsive parenting.