The adjustment that children and families go through when moving from their home to a childcare centre may be difficult. As parents, our goal is to make transitions as easy and smooth as possible so that children may feel safe, understood, and cared for in their new surroundings.

You and your child will benefit greatly by making this transition as smooth as possible. In this post, we will provide an overview of how to prepare your toddler for child care. Let’s begin by exploring the reasons why the move to child care may be challenging.

Why daycare can be challenging

It’s an emotional and unique event for every family when their child goes to child care for the first time. The first step to a seamless adjustment for your infant is to understand why this adjustment is tough.

Separation anxiety

Not only is it hard for kids to go from their home to day care, but it’s also hard for parents and families. Children may feel anxious when their parents leave, and new parents may feel stressed and worried about their child.

Some parents may also feel like centres or another caregiver can’t provide the care their child needs when they’re not at home. On top of that, others might also miss the chance to be with their baby everyday.

It’s normal to feel strong emotions during this time, if you take the right steps, you and your child can both feel less anxious.

Mother dropping off child - preparing infant for daycare

New surroundings

Just think about how many new things babies are seeing, smelling and hearing when they go somewhere new. This is why some babies have a hard time in new environments.

The good news is that this early exposure is good for babies and helps them become more resilient and well-adjusted as they get older, becoming an important part of a child or baby’s development.

The best way to help your child get ready for this big change to day care is to ease into it. In the next part of this article, we provide examples of how to prepare for these transitions.

Change or new routine

People, especially babies, need some kind of pattern to feel safe and secure. It can be hard for both parents and babies to get used to a new or unfamiliar schedule. When they leave their comfort zone, it takes them weeks to get used to the new environment.

Many daycares will talk to you about your baby’s routine, such as when your babies sleep, eats, and so forth, to make the transition easier. Below are some tips you can use to help your baby get used to any changes in their schedule.

Preparing infant for daycare and a smooth transition

We need to pay attention to children and their needs as we help them learn from changes whilst continue to make them feel safe and secure in the community they’re in. The chances we give them can have a big impact on their emotional health and their ability to cooperate with friends. Here are some tips to support your child and their transition to daycare. These will also alleviate your worries!

Spend time in the centre

Weeks before the school year starts, consider paying your centre a visit. Babies must be given the chance to become familiar with new surroundings. Use this opportunity to familiarise yourself and your baby with the centre.

Most daycares give introductory tours so you can see where most babies will sleep, play, eat, and nap. You may also enquire about the centre’s methods, describe your child’s schedule, and voice any worries or anxiety.

Form relationships with educators

Building relationships with your baby’s carers, educators, and other children will increase trust and help you feel more confident and secure. 

To learn more about the carers your child will interact with, you need to talk with them so you can ask questions such as:

  • What kind of training do toddlers have in child development?
  • Do they have sleep sacks available during nap time?
  • At any one time, how many children do they watch and care for?
  • How much time have they spent dealing with children before this?
  • What can we expect from a regular week at the centre?
  • How are they going to help your infant adjust to daycare?
  • How do the educators alleviate the worry of the parents and children?

These questions may also aid educators in supporting parents during the first couple of weeks as they transition.

Another good suggestion is to get to know your baby’s new caregivers right away. This procedure will help in relationship building between the educator and the infant, as well as make the transition easier.

Relationship with educators - preparing infant for daycare

Create a routine

Make sure your kid is comfortable with their child care routine before sending them. If your kid’s existing schedule can’t be followed, it’s best to find a middle ground with the educators. It is important to have a consistent feeding schedule.

To begin, try to synchronise your baby’s bedtime and wake-up rituals in the morning to coincide with those of his or her daycare. Also, you may start bottle feeding them and putting them to bed at the same time as the centre, one step at a time.

Expose your child to short separation periods

First-time daycare mothers and baby sometimes struggle. Set up short separations before starting daycare if your baby has anxiety. This helps the child learn how to handle time apart from you and helps prepare a baby for daycare or a child to start childcare.

Play peekaboo with plush animals to practice parting. Next, leave your baby with a trusted relative, friend, or caregiver (half an hour to an hour). You can do this for a few weeks. The baby may cry, but they’ll manage eventually.

Routinely saying “goodbye” might also be helpful – a kiss, hug, goodbye song, or wave may be included. A successful transition depends on consistency.

Prepare medical requirements

Children and babies with specific conditions requiring specific medications or service procedures must only be enrolled in an approved centre. The Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority requires all certified child care facilities to:

  • Have a policy in place for service procedures.
  • Have information about managing any medical conditions.
  • Create a medical management plan with a parent.
  • Develop a risk-minimisation plan and communication plan between parents and carers.

By completing your child’s medical forms and outlining their requirements, you can ensure they will receive the medical care they need in the case of an emergency.

Communicate your child’s needs

Communicating your child’s needs is the greatest approach to guarantee a seamless transition and a pleasant time in child care. Here are a few examples of what you should convey:

  • Your child’s present life circumstances, e.g., preparing for divorce, new siblings, or toilet training
  • Common baby night sleep issues, such as insomnia, difficulty with loud sounds, and apnea
  • The milestones or objectives that a baby or toddler has reached in his or her growth and development
  • Example of current health care issues
  • Specific dietary requirements and preferences in eating or breastfeeding
  • Schedules for naps and playtime.

Have a comfort or transitional object

Many parents use a transitional or ‘comfort’ item to calm the concerns of their baby. A transitional toy helps your baby to feel safe and comfortable in a new environment or child care. A transitional item is usually a child’s favourite doll, toy, blankets, or stuffed animal.

Most children create a link with an item between 4 and 12 months and keep it for years. The familiarity of the item reassures your child when anxieties occur and can help them for their first day in daycare.

Bringing a transitional or comfort item to childcare helps relieve tension and boost confidence. Make sure your child’s caregivers or instructors know about the item and its purpose as it takes about six months for a child to get used to a specific carer.

Attend orientation programs

Orientation introduces you and your kid to child care personnel, answers questions, and ensures seamless adjustment. These sessions may reduce parent and toddlers anxiety, and teach you how the centre works.

If your child is younger in age, ask what they would do if you forgot extra clothes or a bottle, and about education types and childcare guidelines, or how they play and have fun.

The director introduces new parents and children to other carers and explains their duties. You can also see the classrooms and outdoor spaces, and even additional support facilities that aid your baby’s development.

Orientation program - preparing infant for daycare

Be updated about your child’s day

Once your toddler reaches a certain age and starts child care, the family may feel left out. It is helpful to find out what your child does each day and why. Many instructors and caregivers will keep you updated on your child’s education, development, daily activities, achievements, and issues. Most daycares provide a variety of activities to promote core abilities, including:

  • Baby sign language
  • Cuddling and rocking sessions
  • Storytime
  • Attentive talking
  • Singing and rhyming

Check whether a child care offers a digital app, notepad, or health journal for parents.

One example is Home which allows you to keep track of what your child is experiencing and working on during the day. You can get regular updates, photographs, and progress reports on your child’s activities and how many minutes of sleep they get during nap time.

Finding the right child care for your family

It’s easy to find a suitable child care when you have advanced search filters and detailed profiles that suits exact needs of your baby. This is exactly what Space offers – a directory where child cares around Australia can register their details and help you discover your perfect fit.

Register today and start searching. You might even find special offers!

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