Starting Daycare

starting daycare

Starting Daycare?


Sending your child to day care, whether it’s a daycare center or a family care home can be an anxious time for everyone, but there are ways to help make the transition to child care a smoother process for the whole family when starting daycare.

Preparing Toddlers for Daycare.

Preparation is the key for both the child and the Parent(s) when starting daycare.  Before formal care is to begin it is very important to start talking to your toddler early on about where he or she will be going, tell them how fun it will be and what they will do there during the day.  Take the time to explain to your child(ren) what the child care daily routine will be each day and to reassure them that Mommy or Daddy will always be with them to take them to daycare in the morning and there to pick them up in the afternoon.  Parent(s) don’t worry on what to say to your child when starting daycare… there are lots of parenting books available that can help tell stories about going to child care, or preschool daycare and use them as they may be a good introduction start before beginning child care.

Before your toddler begins child care at the daycare, it’s a really good idea to visit the site to spend some time with your son or daughter at the center or family daycare home where they will be going.  Explain that the visit may just be an hour or two, but it will make them more familiar with the child care home or center and that you will be with them.  This visit will also give you a chance to talk to the care professionals about your child(ren)s routine and the little things that may help settle in at the care site.  Before starting daycare, make sure you answer any questions your child may have and if possible, try sending him or her for some shorter days – an hour or two, a half day – to help them settle in to the idea of day care gradually.  There should be NO rush!

Toddlers and Daycare: First Day.

  • Parent(s) on the first day of formal child care, make sure you’re organized so that you are not rushing around to go.
  • Remember to pack a favorite toy or blanket so your child has something familiar with them.
  • Try very hard to arrive early on the first day of daycare so you will have time to settle your toddler(s) in before you leave them.
  • Try very hard to not feeling or look too anxious.  If you are, try hard to hide it the best you can – if you don’t… it’s very likely your child will pick up on this and begin to feel unsettled.
  • It’s important to help your child find an activity he or she really likes on day one and take the time to possibly join in for a few minutes with the activity.
  • When it’s time you to go, make sure to give your child(ren) a confident goodbye and let them know you’ll be back later in the day to pick them up.
  • DO NOT…. sneak out of the daycare family home or child care center without them knowing – this will make him or her very anxious at future drop-offs.

Remember, if your departure from the daycare is traumatic, try to resist the temptation to go back and check on your toddler.  As he or she may have settled in and you only risk upsetting them again. However, if you’re too worried, you can give the daycare a call to see how your child is.  Note: Sometimes a child may have settled in fine and been happy all day long, but will get upset and may have some tears when the parent comes to pick them up.  This is a Normal feeling in most cases.

Toddlers and Daycare:  After the first full day

It’s very important that while your toddler is beginning to settle into his or her new child care routine, try and keep the home life as calm and consistent as possible.  Remember, now is not the time to transition him or her into a big boy/girl bed, or even to begin toilet training as that can wait.  Try and keep your new child care routine the same – on how and when you drop him or her off to daycare. This will give them a better sense of security and child care issues will eventually become smooth and routine.

In some cases however, if the daycare drop-offs continue to be very distressful, your toddler may have showing signs of separation anxiety, and you may need to take steps to address them:

  • One solution may be is to try to have your spouse, partner, parent or even a good family friend can drop your toddler off at daycare.  He or she may be more upset about your departure than the child care center or family daycare home.
  • Talk to your child(ren)s care providers and see if there is anything happening during the day that may be upsetting him or her or what  they may like after you leave.  The care provider(s) may have some helpful suggestions for you to try.
  • Most importantly… talk to your toddler about what is upsetting him or her about child care, the daycare, and make sure you listen and reassure him or her that everything is going to be OK.


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