Tips for transitioning to daycare
Transitioning from being at home with your child to sending them to daycare is a huge change for you both. It can be tricky to navigate the emotions of your child (as well as your own!).
I’m (Ayla) in the midst of this transition at the moment and know personally how torrential the first few months can feel. Check out my tips for you below that may help make the transition smoother❤️
If possible, consider a gradual transition by having your child attend daycare for just a few hours at first and gradually increasing the time they spend there. Taking a few weeks to build up to a full day may be beneficial for your child as they settle in. We started with super short days (from around 8am - 11am) and gradually built up to longer days (8am - 3pm). It was tough on us both to start with - we had never been separated for that long before (and, despite him being 16 months, I suddenly had to pump again to relieve engorgement!). But, with time, we both settled into the new routine quite happily.
Choose a high-quality daycare
Look for a daycare that has a good reputation and provides a safe, nurturing environment for children. The last thing you want is to be doubting your decision or second-guessing the abilities of your child’s educators. With my first child, we tried and failed at three (!) centres before we found one we were completely happy with. One of the perks of the second child was that he could just happily sign him up for where his big sister went. Phew!
Prepare your child
Talk to your child about the transition to daycare and what they can expect. You can also read books or watch videos together to help them understand what it will be like. Although babies and younger toddlers may not understand these conversations yet, it’s still helpful to repeatedly talk about daycare in an upbeat and positive tone to them. Over those initial months at daycare, my son definitely started to respond positively when I would say we were “going to see his friends!” in an excited tone of voice. At first he had absolutely no idea what I was on about, of course ;).
Establishing routines, such as having a regular bedtime and waking up time, can help your child feel more secure during the transition. Let the educators know about your child’s daily routine, including nap time and eating times, can be a great help also. I found that my child needed an even earlier bedtime on daycare days than he did before, so having a sense of flexibility may also be helpful.
Pack familiar items
Pack a blanket, stuffed animal, dummy, other familiar item for your child to take with them to daycare. This can provide comfort and a sense of security during the transition. Just be sure to name everything - I was more upset than my bub was when his Benjamin Bunny went missing one day!
Keep in touch
Maintain regular communication with the daycare providers and stay involved in your child's day-to-day experiences. Ask questions and seek feedback on how your child is settling in. I never fear being that parent because open communication ensures everyone is on the same page and I don’t have to worry any extra. Ask all the questions! It was only through asking that I found out that I actually was welcome to drop into the centre to breastfeed my bub during the day.
Have frozen breast milk, bottles and other feeding necessities prepared in advance for your child. There is nothing worse than trying to pump during the morning rush because you’ve realised your baby doesn’t have enough milk for the day. Actually, the realisation that my baby refused my milk at daycare and it was all going down the drain may have been worse, come to think of it!
Remember, the transition to daycare is a process, and it may take time for your child to fully adjust. Be patient and understanding, and know that with support and love, your child will soon be thriving in their new environment. And you will adjust too!