For every parent who is about to leave their baby in a daycare for the first time:
Dear mama/ papa,
Are you taking your baby to daycare for the first time? A thousand questions must be running through your mind. You are about to leave the baby you created inside you under the care of daycare teachers. Are you scared? That is normal because this milestone you are about to cross is no joke.
The first few days will be the hardest because both you and the little one will be transitioning into uncharted territory. Over time, things will get better, and you will realize that this is the best thing for the two of you. Besides, at some point you’ll have to cut the cord, right?
It’s hard to tell how this will work out, but with a little preparation, taking a baby to daycare will be smoother than you imagined. Here’s how to prepare for your baby’s first time at daycare.
Tips for the parent
Every parent has read a horror story about how a baby was left in daycare and things went south. Leaving your baby in the care of a “stranger” is a hard reality that every mother, father or guardian faces at some point. If you are planning on taking your baby to daycare, these tips will ease the experience.
1. Do your due diligence
Nothing beats preparation than extensive research. Ask the daycare provider as many questions as you can. If you spend sufficient time looking for the best facility, you will be at peace knowing that your child is under proper care. Do not shy away from trusting that gut feeling you have the moment you walk into the daycare.
What factors should you consider when choosing a daycare?
- Low caregiver-child ratio
- Location: it could be close to work or home
- The opening and closing times
- Whether meals are included or not
- Any other priorities you may have
2. Create the night-before checklist
Many daycare veterans will tell you that one of the hardest things about taking a baby to daycare is remembering to pack all the items. Babies need crib sheets, pacifiers, labeled bottles, bibs, and other things. Make a daycare checklist and place it near the door or at the back of your phone.
3. Be optimistic at the drop-off
Children quickly pick up their parent’s mood. If you are depressed and sulky during your baby’s first time at daycare, he or she will notice it. Be intentional with regards to your mood and make sure you project optimism.
4. Do some regular check-ins
Allowing another person to look after your baby might make you feel like you lost your control. It is even hard to go about your daily duties because you keep wondering how they are fairing. After taking your baby to daycare, do some regular check-ins before pick-up time. It will give you a glimpse of how your little one is getting along. Also, create a good rapport with the teachers.
5. Make the pick-up exciting
When collecting your child after taking your baby to daycare, work on connecting with him or her in the evening. Give them a warm hug and a big smile. Your little one will feel loved and will understand that being in daycare is not a bad thing.
Tips for your baby
Regardless of their age, babies also have a difficult time transitioning into daycare. Luckily, there are ways to ease the tension for them, such as these tips.
6. Take the child to a meet-and-greet
Before taking your baby to daycare for the first time, organize for them to meet their teachers in advance. Spending time with his or her new to be family in your presence will help her or him to familiarize with the environment. It will also ease the transition.
7. Give them a familiar object
A little feel of your home will make a baby’s first time at a daycare easy to bear. Anything that smells or feels like home is all they require to get them through their first day. It could be a blanket, a toy or a laminated family portrait.
8. Explain what is happening
Even if your baby has not started speaking yet, you can still talk to him or her about the daycare. Talk about there being other kind aunties who will take care of them. Remember to mention the new playmates because they will love that!
9. Get your baby to sleep early
The night before taking your baby to daycare determines how well they transition into the new phase of their lives. Having adequate sleep ensures that the child is well rested and can tackle the challenges that could be facing them. A tired child will only make things harder than they already are. Make sure that the baby sleeps early every other night.
10. Introduce the concept gradually
After your baby’s first time at daycare goes well, you might be excited and eager to take them the second time. However, this is not an advisable thing to do. For the first few times of taking the baby to daycare, take the child on an alternate basis. Introducing a new concept slowly will allow sufficient time for your little one to get used to the environment. It will also reduce resistance.
Bonus tip: Tears are okay
Your baby’s first time at daycare might not be all flossy and smooth. It might take some time for a child to adapt to daycare. During this time, expect some tears, from both the child and yourself. Sometimes the emotions might heighten during drop off while in other situations, it might be during pick up. Everyone needs to decompress when the situation is seemingly overwhelming, and your baby might not know any other way besides crying. Those tears also mark a significant milestone for your little one, which is why you ought to embrace them.
They might adapt better than you imagined
A baby’s first time at daycare does not have to be difficult. There is a high possibility that your baby will adjust better than you think. Over time, the sadness you are feeling will subside, and you will be glad to have made the decision. Taking your baby to daycare is a fantastic learning experience.