4 Tips for Transitioning to Daycare

Header image of Transitioning to Daycare showing baby playing with adult
Header image of Transitioning to Daycare showing baby playing with adult

WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?

As you’re getting ready to get back to work, the most daunting thing for both you and baby is daycare.

We know, when did this happen?

It seems like just yesterday you were bringing baby home from the hospital, and now it’s time to bring them to school. It’s your job to give them the confidence to be away from you and explore the world, so today we are sharing 4 tips on how to make the transition to daycare easier for everyone.

1. Proactively Prepare

Depending on your kiddos age, tell them stories about your experiences with school or create a story for them. We suggest printing out pictures of their care provider, or even showing them pictures of the toys or the room as a whole, and presenting this to your child before you go.

It can be basic like “This is your school; this is your teacher and, on this day, you’re going to go to preschool. You might feel scared, and if you do, you can ask your teacher for a hug”. The idea of using narration and storytelling can be used to relate to your child in many other scenarios to help your little one find their calm.

2. Talk About the Reunion

Little ones understand a lot more than we give them credit for. Narrate for them what the day could look like. Explain to them that “At the end of the day, mommy or daddy is coming to get you”, so they know what to expect.

You’re not only doing it for them, but also for yourself as a parent. Having this conversation is really preparing them for the change that’s coming. That way, at drop off, they know that you are coming back and that they are safe - making it a little less difficult.

3. Have a Transitional Object

A lot of schools and daycares are open to having a transitional object. They might say that your child can bring an object from home, and they can have that object for a few hours then it will need to be put away.

After a few months, that transitional object will be gradually faded out.

If your daycare doesn’t allow a toy from home due to the COVID_19 pandemic, you can give them a picture of you both that they can look at and hold on to help them get through the day. Consider having TWO of the same stuffy so that one can be kept at school, and the other at home.
FRIENDLY FACES

4. Deal with the Separation Anxiety

Your baby is attached to you and relies on you for everything so we understand the anxiety that comes for both of you when it’s time to have some distance. Keep in mind that your child is learning so much from this experience and it is completely normal for them to be sad about this big change.

They may begin to cry and say “No I don’t want you to go” - so how should you respond? You need to say “I see you’re sad, I’m sad too. I’m going to miss you, but it is time for me to go”.

Your little is going to be sad because change is hard, but, it’s teaching your child trust and the concept of Mommy or Daddy ALWAYS comes back. They are learning that they can move from a negative feeling to a positive feeling (your care provider will also redirect after you leave and they will be fine after a few minutes).

This is when you guide them through your calming techniques.

Take a few deep breaths together, offer one last hug and, just before leaving, remind of them about the reunion! “Mommy’s going to be here at the end of the day, you have everything you need and you have a picture and your toy” - which also becomes the narrative for their care providers to reiterate throughout the day.

YOU'VE GOT THIS

We get it, time is an absolute thief, and this entire transition process may be breaking your Mama heart—but you need to stay strong for your little one. Transitioning is hard and it’s pretty scary for both of you, but you've got this! Keep in mind, these tips don’t just apply for starting daycare but for pre-school, kindergarten, starting an extracurricular activity or even just your little ones first sleep over at Grandma’s house.

So, what’s next?

Check out this article about the 6 Must Have Daycare Essentials to get your little one excited to go! For more information on separation anxiety and dealing with big emotions, check out our Podcast, 40 Weeks to Forever where we speak with the best of the best when it comes to all things parenthood.

*This information was taken from episodes 7 + 8 of the 40 Weeks to Forever Podcast.
Episode 7: Parenting- the Good, the Bad, & Taming Toddler Tantrums
Guest: Michelle Tangman LMFT BCBA
Episode 8: Attachment- Bond, Boundaries, & Bringing up Baby
Guest: Dr. Tanya Cotler PhD
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