Tips for transitioning an 11-month-old to daycare: “He’s constantly crying”

Posted in Childcare.

Starting daycare can be a stressful time for both the parents and the child, especially if there’s a lot of tears involved.

“Any tips on how I can transition him to daycare?”

Jenny, a mum of an 11-month-old, asked mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue for advice on transitioning her son to daycare.  

“Any tips on how I can transition him to daycare. He’s constantly crying. He also won’t take formula and is exclusively breastfed. He won’t drink his formula in a bottle or sippy cup, but he eats lots of food. He would wait until I come home for breastmilk. I’m trying to wean him off the breastfeeding during the day and breastfeed only at home and overnight,” explains Jenny.

Listen to Chris Minogue on Feed Play Love:

Chris had some practical and reassuring advice for Jenny and any other parents who are in a similar situation.

“So he’s obviously having difficulties with that transition, and it depends, Jenny, how many days he’s going to daycare and whether you’ve gone back to work. But to answer the question generally, I’d take it in really small windows,” says Chris.

Small windows

If parents have the option, start by sending your child for a few hours at a time to give them time “to attach to someone in that daycare,” says Chris.

“So for an 11-month-old who has two sleeps in the day, I might send him between the sleeps for a day or two. And then the next week, I might send him before the first sleep but pick him up before the big sleep in the afternoon and then do that for a couple of days, and then leave him for a short day.

“I might drop him off at 8:30am and pick him up at 3:30pm before you have to drop him off for whatever your working hours are.”

Chris says spending some time with your child at drop-off and pick-up will also help.

“So when you drop him off, stay a little bit longer. Give yourself ten or 15 minutes to sit on the floor and let him move away from you,” says Chris, “When you pick him up in the afternoon, pick him up and then play with him for a little while there before going home, and that might help him adjust.”

As for the milk …

“Usually at 11 and a half months, I would tell you to breastfeed him before you go to work and breastfeed when you come home. And in the interim, I’d give him a little bit of cow’s milk in a cup. They [the daycare] can offer that two or three times during his stay until he gets used to it,” says Chris.

“He’s got two things going on. He’s left you, and he’s not adjusted for that just yet, plus he’s looking for that breastfeed for comfort. So get them to offer a little bit of cow’s milk every now and again when he seems happy, and eventually, he’ll pick the volume up, and he’ll replace it with a bit of milk at lunch.”

Here’s hoping this great advice helps Jenny, and if you’re a parent in a similar boat, perhaps it might help you too?

Have you got a question for Chris? Submit your questions for Helpline on Feed Play Love by emailing us at or give us a call during the Babyology Facebook live every Friday from 11:30 am on 1800 543 772.


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