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Babies are the stars of the show in a room approach at Rainbow Nursery, Middlestone Moor, where staff plan experiences with a highly individual touch. Karen Crawford and Sheila Gardiner explain it all.

Now part of the Early Years Foundation Stage, Birth to Threes continues to provide a vital focus for ongoing professional development.

Influenced by the principles of heuristic play, staff at Stepping Stones Childcare Centre have developed sand areas that give the under-threes choice and unrestricted access. Manager Jill Tomlinson explains how.

With fertility rates soaring and more new mothers returning to work to boost income during the economic downturn, baby care is in high demand. Karen Faux looks at how nurseries are coping

The youngest children will delight in using their whole bodies to explore water, says Jean Evans.

Movement and dance experiences such as crawling, creeping, rolling, turning, walking, reaching and swinging are essential for babies' brain development.

Even very young children love to explore, and although nature is the key resource here, it can be given a helping hand. Nicole Weinstein reports.

In a tribute to childcare pioneer Elinor Goldschmied, Anita Hughes looks at Treasure Baskets, Heuristic Play and her unique legacy.

Make nappy changing a time to offer reassuring care and stimulating learning, suggests Claire Stevenson.

Finding suitable 'messy play' substances for babies and young children can often prove difficult because of health and safety issues.