Five Tips to Prepare Your Child for Daycare



As a home daycare provider and a mother to two young children, I have a unique point of view when it comes to daycare readiness. After searching for a suitable daycare for many months, I made the decision to leave my career in marketing and pursue a career in childcare. I struggled with many difficult emotions when weighing my former career against leaving my baby with another person for the majority of her waking hours. Now, when a family chooses to place their child in my care, I understand what they are trusting me with and how they are feeling. I take that responsibility seriously and integrate their children into my family’s routine, so that my home feels like home to the child, as well.

With all that said, there are going to be moments when we (your provider) are at odds with the children (your child, another child, all of them at once). That’s parenthood, and childcare providers are not exempt from the daily struggles of child-rearing. Some struggles, like tantrums, social skills, or picky eating, just come with normal development. Other struggles are avoidable, if you view your relationship with your daycare provider as a partnership. When the adults in your child’s life work together to provide consistency, your child will be happier as a result. The tips I provide can be the difference between your child having a miserable nap time (even if you’re not the one having to listen to the baby cry – the fact is your baby is crying), and easily falling into a blissful sleep.

1. Take time to prepare your breastfed baby to take a bottle

Babies who are used to eating from only the breast don’t care for change (and why would they?!). There have been babies who will hold out all day and wait for the breast to come home. While they will eventually get used to the bottle and eventually they will eat from it, your efforts to introduce them to the bottle at a younger age (after breastfeeding is established, of course), will allow them to stay sustained throughout the day at daycare, without having to go through a difficult adjustment period.

2. Prepare your infant to fall asleep on his or her back on a flat surface with no blankets or stuffed animals

Child care providers in Colorado are bound by law to provide infants with a flat sleeping surface and no suffocating hazards, such as blankets and stuffed animals. Aside from a pacifier, infants will need to sleep unaided. As much as we would love to rock a baby while he or she naps, that is simply not possible in group care. If you can prepare your infant to sleep as they will need to in daycare, and continue that sleeping environment at home after daycare has started, you will set your family up for much sounder sleep (even at night and on the weekends – which is a bonus for you!). For more information on the rules of safe infant sleep in Colorado child care, you can visit the Qualistar website.

3. Introduce your toddler to the daycare’s daily routine

When you have found your ideal provider, ask them for a copy of their daily routine and begin to introduce your toddler to the daily schedule that will soon become their life. The adaptation period into daycare can be very difficult for parents to observe, but you can curb the length of time it takes for your child to adjust by introducing them to the schedule at home.

4. Continue the daycare routine at home

Toddlers can be flexible with their daily routine, but if you completely disregard the daycare schedule on the weekend, you may find yourself with a completely different child on Sunday night than the one you picked up on Friday afternoon. Children thrive on routine, especially when they are little. After a healthy routine has been established, continuing that routine at home will leave you amazed at how happy your child can be!

5. Make drop off and pick up brief

So many times I wish I could take a video of a child who is crying and pleading with their mother at drop off, only to be happily playing with her friends moments after mom leaves. It’s a stressful situation when you believe your child is unhappy to be separated from you, and you may feel that prolonging your presence is helping your child. Truthfully, your child is simply struggling with transitions (which is a very normal part of development), and if your child were truly struggling to be happy in care, your provider would let you know. Acting out at drop off and pick up is very normal. If you keep this transition period positive and brief, your child will be happily playing in no time!

In reality, adjusting to daycare is truly a short-lived phase and soon children are happy and thriving in their home-away-from-home. I have observed that it is mom and dad who carry the heaviest burden of sadness at watching their child go through the adjustment phase. These steps will help you shorten that phase, if not surpass it altogether!

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Sarah is almost a Colorado native who has been enjoying life on the Front Range since the age of 5. She and her husband are raising a rambunctious 1-year-old girl in Littleton.

Sarah loves travel, family, food, the outdoors, and new experiences. She and her husband were about to move to Chile after having lived in Japan for two years when they were surprised by the news of their first pregnancy. What pleasant surprises parenthood and “settling down” have turned out to be!

She now runs a daycare out of their home, sings in a folk band {Silver String Theater}, and aspires to be a valuable part of this amazing resource for parents in Metro Denver!


  1. This is some really good information about daycare. My sister is going to be needing to get a daycare picked out for my nephew soon. I liked that you pointed out that she should try to get him into a daily routine soon. That does seem like a good way of helping him transition into going to a daycare.

  2. I really like what you said here about preparing your children for daycare. Just as you said, you should introduce your child to the daycare center’s daily routine so that they are not alarmed or nervous on their first day. Because my wife is ready to start working again, we need to find a daycare center that is perfect for our daughter. Thanks again, and we will make sure to do some roleplays with her.

  3. I like that you mention to make drop off and pick up brief. My sister is looking for infant care and wants it to be smooth. I’ll be sure to talk to her about making drop off and pick up quick.

  4. My daughter Ava is about a year and a half and I have recently gotten my hours at work changed so I need someone to watch her while I am gone. You talked about preparing the child before daycare by teaching them to sleep and their back since it is a law that infants with a sleeping surface and no blankets. That is something I will have to remember before I put her in daycare. Thanks for the information.

  5. I am wanting to take my two old to daycare to help him become more social with other children, but am looking for advice on how to make this a successful experience for him. I like how you pointed out that I need to make both drop off and pick up brief, to help make the transition easy for him. It’s good to know that even if he is crying when I leave, that moments later he will be happy.

  6. I like the idea to get your kids used to the daily routine found in daycare. My wife and I have been extremely busy this upcoming month. I definitely think that we should find a daycare that could help to take care of our son’s needs.

  7. That makes sense to continue the daycare routine at home. Children thrive on structure. My wife’s maternity leave is just about up, so we’ll have to keep this in mind.

  8. I hadn’t thought about asking the daycare I want to dork with about a copy of their daily routine so I can help my child get used to it. I can see that taking the time to do your homework can help you find the best place to help your kids learn and socialize with others. It is important to remember that taking the time to compare several locations and touring them can help you find the best you can.

  9. I like that you suggest to make the drop off and pick up brief. I can see why this would help the child not think so much about them being left by their parents. My sister will need to take her daughter to daycare for the first time in a couple weeks. I’ll have to mention this to her to make it less sad.

  10. My sister is looking for a daycare for my niece to go to soon. I like that you talked about how it would be smart to make drop offs brief. My niece is my sister’s first child and she is getting nervous about her daughter going to daycare. Making quick drop offs does seem like a smart thing to do to help with that.

  11. That’s a good tip to get a baby used to sleeping on their back. They won’t have access to lying on a human being all the time in a center. I’ll have to start getting my little one ready for that- I’ll be going back to the job soon.

  12. You stated that the adaptation period into daycare can be very difficult for parents to observe, but you can curb the length of time it takes for your child to adjust by introducing them to the schedule at home. Do most daycare centers have a specific type of schedule that they follow? My cousin recently had to get a second job and is trying to decide what to do with her little children during the day. Finding a reputable daycare center might be the best option.

    • Most child care providers find a consistent routine to be an essential element to a successful and fun day! A reputable daycare that feels right for the family and provider alike is the best solution when child care is necessary!

  13. My brother and his wife are thinking about sending their child to preschool, and weren’t sure how it would help. It sounds like a great idea to ask the daycare for a copy of their daily routine to help you get your toddler ready. I know that it would help them to be able to have their child ready to go right off the bat.

  14. Introducing your children to daycare can be a difficult transition, but once they are settled into their routine they’ll have plenty of fun playing with other kids. I think an important part of this is the brief drop off and pick up you mentioned. It will help your child be at ease much more quickly. Thanks for sharing!


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