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!