Taking your infant or toddler to daycare for the first time can be overwhelming.
You might wonder:
- “Will the providers stick to my schedule?”
- “How can I help my baby adjust?”
- “How should I handle the weekends?”
I know this can be a challenging transition, so keep reading; today, I’ll share my best daycare transition tips for infants and toddlers!
The Benefits of Daycare
Before we get into the nitty gritty, you might experience some guilt, doubts, or worries about taking your child to daycare for the first time, but I’m here to ease your mind!
Daycare offers some fantastic, and even surprising, benefits:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) reports that “high-quality early education and child care for young children improves physical and cognitive outcomes for the children and can result in enhanced school readiness.”
And a study conducted by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found “children in higher quality non-maternal child care had somewhat better language and cognitive development during the first 4.5 years of life.”
Bottom line: no matter what childcare option you choose, trust your gut and know that you’re making the best decision for you and your family.
So let’s dive into how to make this transition less overwhelming!
Daycare Transition Tip #1: Have a Flexible Mindset
The transition to daycare will be a lot easier if you have a flexible mindset. Your child’s daycare schedule might not be identical to your at-home schedule, and that’s okay!
Understand that most children adapt well and often thrive in non-maternal childcare environments. The key is to choose a childcare provider you can trust.
Daycare Transition Tip #2: Prepare Early
The more time you have to prepare for the daycare transition, the better off you’ll be! Here’s how 👇
Step 1: Learn the Daycare’s Schedule and Procedures
As soon as you choose a daycare for your little one, reach out to the providers and ask what a typical day looks like in your child’s classroom. Be sure to ask about meals, nap times, and nap durations.
Daycares are often mandated by the state, so they can’t offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to schedules. Adjusting your child’s routine to the daycare’s–even just a little bit– will work in your favor.
However, most babies will quickly learn that their daycare schedule isn’t the same as their home schedule, so don’t worry too much if your at-home schedule doesn’t match up perfectly with what your baby does at daycare.
Step 2: Leave Your Child With Friends, Family Members
Flexibility for your child is important, too! It’s important they feel comfortable outside of your care.
So I suggest leaving your little one with a trusted friend or family member for a short period of time leading up to the transition to daycare. (You can gradually increase your time away as the weeks go by).
This will help them adapt to new people and environments and make that transition a little easier for both you and your little one.
Step 3: Have a Daycare “Trial” Week
Send your little one to daycare about a week before you return to work starting with a few hours and then building up to a full day as the week goes on.
This will allow you both to adjust to the new routine without the added stress of returning to work after maternity leave.
Daycare Transition Tip #3: Get the Teachers on Board (But Don’t Expect Too Much)
Good childcare providers want your baby to be happy as much as you do, so they’ll work with you as much as possible.
Make a short list of priorities and run those by your little one’s caretakers one your baby’s first day.
For example, if you’d like your child to only nap for an hour, ask! (Just remember that many daycares are licensed by the state and have to follow local and state rules.)
Daycare Transition Tip #4: Give Yourself Grace
Remember, mama: it takes time to adjust to a new routine and environment. Be kind to yourself, be patient with your little one, and set realistic expectations.
Quality childcare outside of the home can be a wonderful experience for children of all ages, but the transition can be a little overwhelming. Here are a few ways to make the process as stress free as possible:
- Be flexible
- Prep early
- Discuss your priorities with the childcare providers
- Give yourself grace and set realistic expectations
Need some encouragement? I’m always here to help! DM me on Instagram at @kristingiefer.
And if your little one has trouble sleeping no matter where they are, reach out! I’m happy to chat about my sleep coaching plans!