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How to Prepare Your Child for Daycare

child daycare

Your child’s first day at daycare shouldn’t come across as an unpleasant surprise. Instead, it should be something they look forward to!

Although infants up to 7 months of age may have an easier time adjusting to daycare, the same may not be true for older infants and toddlers. Remember, daycare would mean spending time with new people in a new environment. To transition into this new world, your child will need additional support. They’ll want to know their environment and their caregiver before they officially start their first day at the center. They’ll also need a good deal of preparation to understand you’ll come pick them up at the end of the day.

Preparing your child weeks in advance is vital to make this new experience easier and supply them with the right tools to cope with separation anxiety.

Your Guide to Prepping Your Child for Daycare

So, you’ve enrolled your child in daycare. How do you ensure their transition into this new journey is super fun? Here’s a 7-step guide to successfully prep your little one for daycare:

Get a Feel for the Location

You don’t want your child to experience a sudden change in environment on their first day at daycare. To ensure this transition doesn’t seem too intense, visit the daycare with them before the first day. Use this visit to introduce your child to their caregivers. Document this journey by taking photos of:

  • The route that leads to the location

  • The entrance

  • The room where your little one will spend the day

Compile these photos into a little storybook and get your child excited about becoming a part of this new world!

Talk to Your Child About Daycare + Get them Excited about Their New Environment

Familiarizing your toddler with daycare is not enough. To ensure their transition is as smooth as possible, you must get them excited about exploring their new environment. Talk about it as often as you can in the weeks leading up to their first day.

Let them know about all the fun activities they’ll be doing there. Tell them how they’ll be making new friends and the things they’ll get to do together.

Boost the fun meter by using daycare pretend play. Use their caregiver’s name, try out new arts and crafts, and have fun with similar toys and learning activities. This will make your little one look forward to their new experience!

Establish a Strong Bond with the Caregiver

Your little one observes every action you take. They’ll form an opinion about their teacher based on how you converse with them. Great caregivers see parents as partners in giving children the best possible learning experience. So invest a few minutes each day to talk to your baby’s caregiver and ultimately form a strong relationship with them. Tell them about your child’s likes and dislikes. How they like to be cared for, fed, and put to sleep. These tips will enable the caregiver to offer the best care.

Build a New Routine

Create a new bedtime and wake-up routine for your child several weeks before daycare starts. The bedtime you pick should ensure a good night’s rest and the morning routine should kickstart early enough, so nothing feels rushed. You can even start a fun tradition of picking out clothes for the next day before bedtime. In the morning, you can have breakfast together! Sticking to this new routine will eventually make that first day a lot smoother.

Encourage Your Baby’s Independence

Spending time at daycare is a perfect opportunity to help your little one learn independence skills. In the days leading up to their first day, let them complete small tasks on their own like letting them pick out their clothes, teaching them helpful chores to do at home, and letting them eat independently. These little tasks will not only help them transition to daycare more easily but also increase their self-confidence!

Celebrate Milestones

Never miss a chance to celebrate the little wins your child experiences at daycare. This could include completing an arts and crafts project, learning a new skill, making new friends, or even spending a day at the center. Let your child know they’re doing well by constantly emphasizing their achievements. This will encourage them to learn new skills and have a great time at daycare!

Coping with Separation Anxiety

Like a little sponge, your baby is constantly absorbing new things and most of that learning comes from watching YOU!

Separation anxiety will be an inevitable part of this process – both for you and your child. So be mindful about your emotions during that first drop-off. The two most effective things you can do to address separation anxiety are:

  • Give your child an object that reminds them of home. Letting your child bring a transitional object like a stuffed animal they love or a laminated photo of your family will serve as a reminder that this new setting is temporary and they’ll be back home soon!

  • Build a fun goodbye ritual. This could include interacting with a toy together, a hug, or a high five. A goodbye ritual will enable your little one to get comfortable with their caregiver when it’s time for you to leave. Regardless of the type of goodbye ritual you choose, be sure to take it slow and talk to your child about what’s happening. Once your little one gets used to their ritual, they’ll be able to calm themself more easily.

You Got This!

Learning to spend time apart isn’t the easiest thing to do for your child and you. But with a little bit of planning, this journey toward formal learning can become super exciting.

Invest as much time as possible in familiarizing your baby with daycare. Get them to look forward to doing fun activities at the center. Build meaningful relationships with caregivers. Let go of the “mom guilt” and teach your little one to cope with separation anxiety.

Most importantly, have faith in yourself and trust that you’re making the best choice for your family. Give your child a few days to transition into their new routine and before you know it – your little rockstar will be busy learning new skills, making new friends, becoming more confident, and having the best time of their life!

Author Bio:

Emily Correa, the Marketing Director at Jackrabbit Technologies, combines her passion for child development with her unique business insights. With a degree in Early Childhood Education and over 15 years in the field, she’s at the forefront of marketing innovative software that supports child-focused services. Emily’s dedication to family and community is evident in everything she does, making her a reliable advisor for parents exploring childcare options.