The Village - 5 ways to prepare your little one for daycare

Helping to raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice and cool finds.
The village: helping raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice, hacks and cool finds
Boy holding his mom's hand on his way to daycare.

FAMILY

5 ways to prepare your little one for daycare

Eryn Chesney

That huge leap from being at home with your baby to sending them to daycare is hard. Really hard.

It’s hard for the child, who’s only ever known being cared for by mama and it’s hard for the mom, who has to carry all the feelings of guilt and worry around their little one’s transition into the new phase of life.

The bad news is, those feelings are going to happen, no matter what. Your baby is probably going to cry and you’re probably going to worry and feel guilty.

But the good news is, there are some things you can do with your child in the lead up to daycare to get them prepared and help them adjust a little bit faster. Here are 5 ways you can prepare your child for group care:

Visit the centre together

Ask the school to arrange a time before your child starts that you can both go and tour the daycare and meet the educators. This will help you both feel safe and comfortable in the space. The first day of daycare can be extremely overwhelming and nerve-wracking for your child and they’ll feel much more comfortable in their new environment if they’ve been there before. If a full inside tour isn’t a possibility at your centre, take your child for a trip to the outside. If there’s a yard where they’ll be having outdoor play, point it out and get them excited for it!

“A favourite stuffy or blankie will remind them of home and help them feel assured in moments they might be feeling homesick.”

Talk about it positively and confidently

Your child looks to you for how they should react, so show them how confident YOU are about daycare! If you talk to them about how sad you’re going to be, they’re going to feel sad. If you seem nervous and apprehensive, they’ll think they need to feel that way, too. Think of yourself as their personal hype man and get them really pumped up for how fun it’s going to be.

Mirror your schedule at home

Ask your daycare provider for a copy of their daily schedule and try to get your child used to it ahead of time. For the weeks leading up to the first day, eat, nap and play at the times they would do so at daycare. Why? Well, if your child is used to eating lunch at home at 11:00 AM but won’t eat until 1:00 PM at daycare, that might be really tough for them. Settling happily into a new place is a lot harder when you hangry! Mirroring the daily rhythm of daycare in your own home is a small step you can take to help make the day-to-day routine feel a little bit more natural to your child.

Pack comforting items

You’ll have a list of essentials that the daycare will ask you to pack, but don’t forget to add something that will give them comfort, too. A favourite stuffy or blankie will remind them of home and help them feel assured in moments they might be feeling homesick. If they are of napping age, a comfort item will also help ensure that they fall asleep easily. Does sending beloved stuffies to daycare scare you (what if they lose it?! It’s not replaceable!) Don’t worry, we get it. Luckily, lost or misplaced stuffies are totally avoidable by labelling them with laundry-safe personalized kids labels!

“The more confidence and certainty you show at drop-off, the less anxiety your child will feel.”

Keep your goodbye short and sweet

Okay, today is the day. Breathe, Mama - it’s going to be okay! Whatever you do, do not let your child see you upset at drop-off and do not drag it out. It’s going to be hard and your child is going to scream and cry that they want to stay with you, but if you try and comfort them and reason with them, it only makes it worse. The reality is that once you leave, your little one will likely calm down fairly quickly! If you’re worried, have the daycare give you an update call a few hours in so you can reassess. The more confidence and certainty you show at drop-off (“Bye sweetie! You’re going to have a great day, I’m so excited for you!”) the less anxiety your child will feel as you won’t be signalling to them that they have a reason to feel unsafe.

Remember to have faith in the process. It will be hard at first, but your little one will quickly learn to love daycare and all the stimulation and social interaction it provides for them! Before you know it, they’ll be forgetting to give you a goodbye wave at drop-off and the stressful, tearful early days of daycare will be a faint memory.

Eryn Chesney is the Content & Creative Manager at Mabel’s Labels and mama of two blonde cherubs. When not living or writing about #momlife, she loves vacations, good food and great wine.

FAMILY

5 ways to prepare your little one for daycare

Eryn Chesney

That huge leap from being at home with your baby to sending them to daycare is hard. Really hard.

It’s hard for the child, who’s only ever known being cared for by mama and it’s hard for the mom, who has to carry all the feelings of guilt and worry around their little one’s transition into the new phase of life.

The bad news is, those feelings are going to happen, no matter what. Your baby is probably going to cry and you’re probably going to worry and feel guilty.

But the good news is, there are some things you can do with your child in the lead up to daycare to get them prepared and help them adjust a little bit faster. Here are 5 ways you can prepare your child for group care:

Visit the centre together

Ask the school to arrange a time before your child starts that you can both go and tour the daycare and meet the educators. This will help you both feel safe and comfortable in the space. The first day of daycare can be extremely overwhelming and nerve-wracking for your child and they’ll feel much more comfortable in their new environment if they’ve been there before. If a full inside tour isn’t a possibility at your centre, take your child for a trip to the outside. If there’s a yard where they’ll be having outdoor play, point it out and get them excited for it!

“A favourite stuffy or blankie will remind them of home and help them feel assured in moments they might be feeling homesick.”

Talk about it positively and confidently

Your child looks to you for how they should react, so show them how confident YOU are about daycare! If you talk to them about how sad you’re going to be, they’re going to feel sad. If you seem nervous and apprehensive, they’ll think they need to feel that way, too. Think of yourself as their personal hype man and get them really pumped up for how fun it’s going to be.

Mirror your schedule at home

Ask your daycare provider for a copy of their daily schedule and try to get your child used to it ahead of time. For the weeks leading up to the first day, eat, nap and play at the times they would do so at daycare. Why? Well, if your child is used to eating lunch at home at 11:00 AM but won’t eat until 1:00 PM at daycare, that might be really tough for them. Settling happily into a new place is a lot harder when you hangry! Mirroring the daily rhythm of daycare in your own home is a small step you can take to help make the day-to-day routine feel a little bit more natural to your child.

Pack comforting items

You’ll have a list of essentials that the daycare will ask you to pack, but don’t forget to add something that will give them comfort, too. A favourite stuffy or blankie will remind them of home and help them feel assured in moments they might be feeling homesick. If they are of napping age, a comfort item will also help ensure that they fall asleep easily. Does sending beloved stuffies to daycare scare you (what if they lose it?! It’s not replaceable!) Don’t worry, we get it. Luckily, lost or misplaced stuffies are totally avoidable by labelling them with laundry-safe personalized kids labels!

“The more confidence and certainty you show at drop-off, the less anxiety your child will feel.”

Keep your goodbye short and sweet

Okay, today is the day. Breathe, Mama - it’s going to be okay! Whatever you do, do not let your child see you upset at drop-off and do not drag it out. It’s going to be hard and your child is going to scream and cry that they want to stay with you, but if you try and comfort them and reason with them, it only makes it worse. The reality is that once you leave, your little one will likely calm down fairly quickly! If you’re worried, have the daycare give you an update call a few hours in so you can reassess. The more confidence and certainty you show at drop-off (“Bye sweetie! You’re going to have a great day, I’m so excited for you!”) the less anxiety your child will feel as you won’t be signalling to them that they have a reason to feel unsafe.

Remember to have faith in the process. It will be hard at first, but your little one will quickly learn to love daycare and all the stimulation and social interaction it provides for them! Before you know it, they’ll be forgetting to give you a goodbye wave at drop-off and the stressful, tearful early days of daycare will be a faint memory.

Eryn Chesney is the Content & Creative Manager at Mabel’s Labels and mama of two blonde cherubs. When not living or writing about #momlife, she loves vacations, good food and great wine.

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