There’s precious little that pulls at the heartstrings like the moment you walk away from your child, as they embark on their day care journey. Whether they’re crying big, fat tears with their arms outstretched, or playing happily, it’s a moment that will give you all the feels. There are a few simple things you can do to help your little one, and the whole family, transition into this new phase.
As always when trying to make our children feel comfortable, preparation is key. Most of these tips work best when begun a few weeks before starting day care.
1. Ease into it
Once you’ve found the family care or day care centre for your child, have a chat to the staff and ask if you can start the process with your child in stages. This may mean bringing your child in at a certain time each week for an hour, while you stay and play with them, and allow them to get familiar with the surroundings and staff.
You can build up to leaving them for short periods of time and see how they react. It will give you a good indication of how they’re adapting.
2. Get your child a comforter
If your child doesn’t already have a comforter of some sort, now is a great time to introduce one. It can help your baby have a connection to home, by keeping something familiar with them throughout the day. A really gorgeous option is a super cute Kippin – they’re fabulous comforters that have so many snuggly little corners that children just love to hold and feel. If you introduce a comforter to your baby when they’re really small, it will be a familiar friend by the time they head off to day care.
The organic cotton and water-based inks used in Kippins are chew-friendly, and there are eight styles to choose from (we love Banjo the koala!).
3. Get into routine
If your days are a little out of whack, before starting day care it’s a good idea to get some sort of routine in place. Even if it’s just napping at the same time each day, it will help your baby know what’s coming next. If you ask your day care provider when they have morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and naps, you can loosely base your own routine around similar times.
4. Find comfort in the familiar
In the same way that a familiar toy or comforter can ease a child’s worries, so too can other objects that your little one uses often. This might be sippy cups, utensils, bowls – if your child is particularly insistent on these, it may be a good idea to purchase a second set to have at day care.
Also, make the time to chat to day care staff about the centre’s menu. If your child is particular about what they eat, try and keep things familiar for them. Being a new, unfamiliar situation is not the time to start pushing your child’s boundaries when it comes to eating. Once they’re settled, then you can work on getting them to expand their tastes. In fact, many parents discover their children will try foods at day care that they won’t touch at home!
5. Practise patience and flexibility
Fortunately, these two traits are second nature to most parents. We learn to adapt to situations pretty easily when we have children to think about, and getting them settled into day care is no exception. Be patient with your child. Understand that she may be fussier, sookier and more clingy than usual. And you may have to ask your employer to be a little flexible for the first few weeks. It may involve finishing a bit earlier each day for a while, or working reduced hours until your child has settled into care.
Remember to be patient with yourself. You’re doing everything you can to help your child adjust to a strange situation – don’t forget they’re doing the same. Your child won’t forget your sweet kisses or warm hugs. They will be waiting for more as soon as you pick them up – and you’ll be happy to oblige!
(This is a sponsored post for Kippins)