Once you’ve decided on the best child-care option, preparing to say goodbye to your child can be emotional (for both of you!). Here are some tips on how to make going to child care as smooth as possible.
Talking about and preparing for going to child care is important. Just as you need to feel confident about where your child is going, your child needs to feel that same sense of security about going there, too. While you’re choosing when and where your child will go to child care, start talking to your child about what child care is and what it will look like. Allow your child time to adjust and think about the new routine. Talk with the child-care provider about ways to help your child with the adjustment. It’s a big change, even for a newborn, so talking about it out loud will be helpful for you and your child.
Walk your child through a typical day at child care. Describe and discuss what the new routine will look like.
Have your child visit the new setting or meet with the new child-care provider ahead of time. Arranging a short playdate can allow your child some time to get to know the new provider and other children.
If possible, gradually introduce your child to the child-care setting. Start by having your child with the provider for an hour or two, and then increase the time over a week’s period. Plan to stay with your child at the new setting on the first day for at least 30 minutes.
For older preschoolers, encourage your child to ask any questions they may have to the child-care provider.
For the first few days, and if the provider allows it, pack your child some favorite foods to have at the new place or with the new provider.
Allow your child to bring a special toy to have while away from you.
When saying goodbye, remind your child of when they will be picked up and by whom.
Lead by example. If you act nervous or worried, your child will likely feel that way too. Be confident and happy at drop-off so your child can feel is assured that the setting is a good, safe place.
Your child (or you!) may cry the first few times at child care or with a provider. Although tough to see, these emotions are normal. So let your children express those feelings while gently reassuring and showing them they will be in good hands with a caregiver you trust.