Starting child care: Tips for you and your child

These helpful insights should make the transition much easier

I remember the day that my eldest started child carefor the first time. My tummy was filled with butterflies (as I am sure was his) there were tears (from both of us!) and anxious goodbyes.

Sending your child to crèche/ montessori/ day care /family care or with a nanny can be an anxious time for everyone, but there are ways to help make introducing it a smooth process for all of you.
In advance of the big day
As with most tasks in life, preparation is the key. Start talking to your toddler early on about where he/she is going / who‘s coming, how great it is going to be and what they will do there. Explain what the routine will be and reassure them that you'll be there to pick her up later that day.
Before the new routine begins, it's a really good idea to spend some time with them at the facility or the home where she'll be. It may just be a half hour, but it will make him/her more familiar with their new surroundings and they will settle quicker with the safety of you being with him/her.  This will also give you a chance to talk to the carer about your own child’s routine and things that may help them settle. It’s a good idea to try and send him/her for some shorter days to start off with–this will help with their settling in.
Day 1
  • On the first day, make sure you're organised so that you're not in a rush.
  • Pack a favourite item belonging to them so he/she has something familiar with them.
  • Arrive nice and early so you have plenty of time to settle your little one in.
  • Try to relax as best you can. If you are anxious, hide it best you can – they will pick up on this and it will be unsettling for them- brave faces needed!
  • Look for an activity or a toy he/she really likes and play it with them for a few minutes.
  • When it's time to leave, give him/her a big smile, wave goodbye and let her know you'll be back later to collect them.
  • Don't sneak out without them knowing - this will make him/her anxious for tomorrow and the next day and so on.
  • If your departure is traumatic, resist the temptation to return. They will likely have settled in soon after and you only risk upsetting them again. If you're worried, give the carer a call to check on them. Be warned, sometimes a kid may have settled in fine and been chirpy all day, but will melt into tears when you come to collect them.
After the first day
  • While they are settling into their new routine, try and keep their home life as calm and consistent as possible. Don’t make any more big transitions like potty training or taking the sides off the cot for a big boy/girl bed. Try to create a similar routine for drop and collects. This will give them a sense of security.

If the drop-offs are stressful, they might be showing signs of separation anxiety. If they are:

  • Ask your partner, parent or a friend to drop your child off. They may be more upset about your departure than the location.
  • Talk to her minders and see if there is anything in particular that is happening during the day that may be upsetting them. Also ask what they are like 10 minutes after you leave. They may have some helpful suggestions or give you some valuable insights.
  • Talk to your child about what is upsetting them, and make sure you listen and reassure them.

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