As a parent, you want the best for your child - and that includes finding caring and reliable daycare. It's a big transition for everyone.
Settling in will depend on the age and personality of your child. Some days may go well, and others might be quite stressful.
Remember, your child picks up on your mood, so try to have a calm and happy morning as you prepare for a daycare day.
Here are our top tips from real parents to help the transition to daycare:
- Give your child at least 3 play dates and visits to the centre before starting. On those days, spend just 5-10 minutes in another room and then return, to let your child know you will come back.
- For toddlers and preschoolers, have a calendar on the fridge, so they know which days they are attending daycare.
- Mornings can be busy. Have bags completely packed at the front door the night before.
- Drop offs can be stressful but they do get better. Always say goodbye to your child so they know you are leaving. Talk to the teacher about a calm plan to help with drop offs.
- Labels all belongings - shoes, bottle lids, dummies.
- Many centres have the Storypark App, which can help your child look at photos and learn the names of other children and the teachers.
- For babies and toddlers, they won't be able to "tell" you much about daycare, as their language skills are underdeveloped. By age 3, little ones can communicate their ideas and feelings about many aspects of daycare - the good and the bad!
- Prepare for an overtired child. It is a very stimulating environment and they can be exhausted after a big day. Even if they are good sleepers at daycare, they will still be tired by the end of the day.
- For the first week, start your baby on half days so they can attempt one sleep there but can be brought home to have a good nap to make up for it later that day if needed.
- Take their comforter/blankie to day care. It has the familiar touch and smell that will offer them comfort and help them settle to sleep. Keep an identical "back up" blankie in the car, in case the original one gets left at home or at daycare.
- Consider collecting them early (3.30-4.30pm) so they can have an afternoon “power nap” in the car on the way home which will get them through the dinner, bath, bed routine at night.
- Prepare for sickness. It's inevitable, as their immune system develops: Common Cold, Gastro, RSV, Covid, Hand Foot and Mouth, School Sores and so much more. Daycare is a petri dish for germs. It can feel like your child is constantly sick, especially during Winter.
- Have a contingency plan for days when they are too sick to go to daycare. Work out who is going to take the day off to care for them, or whether you can call on a grandparent to help.
- Have the medicine box stocked with essentials like Panadol to avoid a mad dash to the pharmacy on the way to daycare.
- The most common symptom of sickness is a runny nose. Invest in Snotty Boss - the best battery powered nasal aspirator which safely and easily suctions snot from your child's nose. A clear nose helps them breathe better, which then helps them feel better, feed better and sleep better.
As it removes snot quickly at the source, the mucus cannot fester and lead to a secondary ear, adenoid or respiratory infection. Removing the snot at the onset of the cold can shorten the duration of the virus which may pass through their system in a few days, rather than linger for a week or 2. Click here to read more about Snotty Boss.
It's perfectly normal to feel nervous and worried about your little one at daycare, but a high quality centre has loving staff who create a happy, engaging environment for the children.
Little ones experience new and exciting activities and develop social and emotional skills for life.