It's not always easy preparing your infant for daycare, but you can do it. You just had the most amazing three to six months of maternity leave with your amazing new child and now the time has come to not only go back to work, but drop off the one thing you hold most precious to you in the world into someone else’s hands. So as the days draw nearer, you’re probably wondering how well your child will do. Don’t worry, as an infant teacher for over five years, I will let you know that your child will not only survive, but thrive in their new daycare environment. Here are my best tips for preparing your infant for daycare.
1. Help Them Bond with Their Teacher
When an infant reaches six and a half months, the child’s brain becomes aware of the difference between a stranger’s face and a familiar face. As a result, I recommend that if your child is six months or older, spend the week before your child enrolls in daycare visiting the center for an hour or so every day. If the center allows it, leave your child to bond with the teacher while you step out of the room. That way, by the time their first day arrives, you will be able to drop off your child with a friendly face. If you are not able to do this, be prepared that the child will most likely be crying on their first day after drop off. However, it usually takes the child an hour to make a connection with the teacher and two to three weeks to stop crying at drop off. This is one of the top things to keep in mind when preparing your infant for daycare.
2. Be Prepared for Nap Time
Napping at daycare will be very different than napping at home because their cribs will be in the same room where they play. As a result, the noise volume will be higher than they are accustomed to, causing your child to nap less at school. Therefore, you will really want to try and get them used to sleeping with noise. Talk in a regular tone when they are asleep, leave the TV on at a normal volume, and even play some music. The more accustomed they become to the loud noise, the easier time they will have sleeping at daycare.
3. Show You Trust Their Teacher
The most important thing of all however, is connecting with their teacher. Infants have a great radar for picking up on their parents' emotions. As a result, if you are wary or uncomfortable at drop off, your child will pick on this vibe and resist building a connection with their teacher. So talk to the teacher at drop off for a while with your child in your arms. This helps show them that you trust this person and so should they. You want to make sure that you give the teacher's a schedule of what your child’s day looks like, and do not be afraid to add a lot of detail. As a teacher, the more information a parent gives me, the more resources I have to help make their child happy, like singing their favorite song or making their favorite noise.
Your child and you will be great, and as the days go on, dropping them off at daycare will become second nature. Pack extra bottles and food, stuff their drawers with clothes and diapers, and call the center as much as you need to in order to receive updates on their day. Lastly, take a deep breathe and remember that everything is going to be okay.