Is your baby or toddler headed to daycare this season? If so, you might be feeling a little apprehensive about how your child will handle the move away from the comforts of home — and it's likely you're going through a bit of separation anxiety as well.
Tip 1: Create a goodbye ritual
One great tip is for families create a consistent goodbye ritual to create a fuss-free drop off. That might mean giving a high-five, saying, "I love you," or a kiss on both cheeks — whatever feels natural to the parent and child. Make sure you do the same routine each time, so your child knows what to expect. This daily sendoff helps set a "limit for yourself" as well - so you won't be tempted to linger at the door, making the goodbye harder for you both.
Tip 2: Expect some tears
It can take anywhere from one day to four weeks, depending on their temperament, for a child to adjust to daycare. Until then, you might see a few tears upon pickup. Those tears are also an important milestone for growing children as they learn to adapt to different social situations where there might be different rules than at home. It helps them with flexibility and adaptation, so just let those tears flow.
Tip 3: Try a gradual start
If possible, let your child ease in to daycare by starting him off with a part-time schedule. The ideal transition into daycare is one that is gradual, so maybe you're going with them for an hour one day, and the next day, you'll leave them there for 20 minutes to play while you go get a coffee. Many daycare providers will recommend a similar gradual start, beginning with either a couple of half days or starting on a Thursday, rather than Monday, so the child or baby doesn't immediately plunge into a five-day-a-week, full-time schedule.
Tip 4: Bring something familiar
A reminder of home will make those first few trips to daycare a little easier and provide comfort on difficult days. We recommend "anything that smells and feels like home" for your child. That might be a piece of a blanket, mom or dad's T-shirt, or a small stuffed animal.
Tip 5: Create a night-before checklist
Daycare veterans will likely tell you one of the hardest things is actually just remembering to pack all that stuff! Toddlers need their items labeled, pack spare diapers or pull-ups, wipes, extra sets of clothes and possibly lunches and snacks. Post a daycare checklist near the front door to help remember daily items. Pack everything the night before and you might just minimize a bit of that morning chaos, improving everyone's mood! Not sure what to bring? Check with your director for a list of required items, and then check out our entire preschool and daycare line of products!