Starting Daycare: Easing the Transition
Berkeley Parents Network >
Starting Daycare: Easing the Transition
My 4-month-old son is starting full-time daycare soon, and I will be with him
during his first week (4 days) to ease him into the process adjusting to his
new environment and schedule. I would like advice, both general and
specific, on how other parents have managed to spend their time both with
and away from their children in this particular setting.
Any general advice on how I can allocate my time during his first week to best
transition him into his new environment so that it's not a complete shock to
him and he feels somewhat comfortable taken care of by someone other than
his mommy? The daycare center is extremely flexible and helpful in terms of
my physical presence there, so it's really up to me to figure out how to
gradually (yet effectively) remove myself from him in his new environment.
My specific concern is regarding feeding. My son is exclusively on breast milk
and is not keen on taking a bottle. I am afraid that, when he becomes hungry
and sees me at daycare, I will have no choice but to offer him my breast, so as
to not upset him. This, however, seems to undermine the efforts to ''best
transition'' him because I would not want him to expect to find mommy's
boobies when he is at daycare. Any advice on this conundrum?
I would stick around no more than one day...and maybe just a
half-hour on the subsequent days. If you are comfortable with
your care provider and the nurturing they provide, then it's
less confusing for baby if you just leave. He'll have to learn
how to take a bottle, and he will pretty quickly (crossing
fingers, of course!) if you're not there to nurse him when
he's hungry. And once he's established with bottle feeding,
maybe then you can stop by once a day (provided you work
nearby) for nursing.
Reconsider spending 4 whole days in daycare with your 4-month-old. It might help you to
comfortable with the daycare, but doesn't do that much to transition your child -- If
there with him, from his point of view it's not much different than anyplace else that
you go with
him. Instead, leave him for a couple of hours the first day or two while you run
errands or clean
your house. Spend 30-60 minutes at drop-off time (and breastfeed before you depart), and
as long as you want when you pick him up so you can spend time observing. Then starting
2nd or 3rd day, increase to half-day without you. This gives the daycare provider some
offer a bottle when you are not there with milk on tap, and if he does go on strike, he
hungry for long. I remember that starting my baby in daycare was emotionally difficult
but my child (at age 5 months) was totally fine, especially since he was young enough not
separation anxiety yet. Having a trusted, warm, attentive childcare provider with a ton
experience introduce the bottle while you are not there is a great way to go. This will
not be their first time introducing a bottle. If you are present, your baby may have a
resistance to the bottle, and it will be more wrenching for you.
Do you have any reason to believe that your son will need
you to nearby for the whole week? Has he had a tough time
with other people caring for him? My daughter was watched by
a sitter when she was the same age as your son and then
transitioned to daycare a little later. She adapted very
easily to both the sitter and the daycare. My daughter is
completely fine with other people taking care of her as long
as I am not available. If I am available she only wants me
to feed her, change her, hold her, etc. She cried when
dropped off at daycare at the beginning but always stopped
within 5 minutes of us leaving. Staying with her only
prolonged her separation anxiety. And you are right about
the nursing/bottle feeding. He most likely won't want a
bottle if you are there. It might take him a little while to
accept bottles but he won't starve himself. He will eat when
he gets hungry enough. Hope that didn't come off the wrong
way. I was very worried about my daughter taking bottles.
She would not take them when I was home with her or near
her. But when I finally went back to work she adjusted. She
got hungry enough and decided that a bottle was suddenly not
the worst thing in the world.
Hope everything goes smoothly for you.
I'll be working part-time starting in January, so my then 5-
month old will be in family day care for two days (Mondays and
Wednesdays). I'm concerned about the change in her daily
routine. Any advice on making this a smooth transition for her
(and me)? Thanks!
I just went back to work part time (Mondays, Wednesdays and
Fridays). I was concerned about how my 5 month old son would
handle this change in his routine, but he seems to be taking it
in stride. I've been leaving him at a family day care not far
from where I work. The first day I left him there, he looked
very dubious when I handed him to the day care provider, and
even cried a little bit. However, the provider was not at all
disturbed by this, and decided he might be cranky because he
needed a nap (she was right -- he often takes a short nap at that
time of day). At the end of the day, he seemed quite happy to
see me but didn't look at all upset. Each day since then, he
seems a little less concerned when I leave him in the morning,
and he always seems just fine at the end of the day. Based on
both my experience and what I've heard from others, I think it's
pretty common for babies this age to adapt quite well to day
care, since most 5-month olds haven't yet developed significant
stranger anxiety or separation anxiety. I think the chances are
good that your baby will have a smooth transition without your
taking any special steps to make it so.
My 5 month old also started daycare 3 days a week, about 3
months ago and it went quite smoothly. A couple weeks before he
began in daycare, I started ''disappearing'' in the mornings for
an hour or so and having my husband or mother feed my son as my
husband was going to do the drop off in the mornings. That way
my son was used to me not being his morning person and he got
used to drinking milk and eating some cereal. (and my husband
got used to doing this too!) I also started back to work half
days for a few weeks, and so my son didn't have to stay at
daycare for very long at first. In my experience, this was a
good time to start daycare because my son didn't have separation
anxiety and quickly accepted his new situation. I also have
been allowing him to nurse more often at night. When I come
home with him I try to spend some good time with him in the
evening, and during my days with him. Good luck! I agonized so
much over putting my son in daycare and in the end, it was much
easier to do it than to think about it.
Planning for New Childcare for 2 year old
I'm going to send my little girl to a family day care next month. My girl (Megan)
will be 2 on May 21st. In order to decrease the difficulties for her change,
what should I do to help? My friend said that at beginning, her child could
not sleep in the day care. Things were extremely difficult for the first month.
I guess I didn't pick the right time to send Megan to a day care because I will
be super busy too in May. I will try to do my best to help this transfer.
Any suggestion is very welcomed. Zhang
Why don't you start bringing her this week? Talk to your child-care
provider--if you're staying there with her she shouldn't charge you and it
shouldn't matter if she doesn't have a space this week. Then maybe the last
couple days before you have to start for real you could bring your daughter
and leave her for a few hours. Also, don't assume napping will be a
problem--both my kids always napped at child-care, right from the start,
even though they were never so cooperative with me!
Even though you'll be busy when you start, try to get there 15 min early
and give your daughter the choice of doing ONE activity with you (puzzle,
book, etc). Then when you're done, say good-bye (don't sneak out) and LEAVE
(don't stay for endless hugs, crying, etc). Likewise, when you pick up, try
to allow a few minutes for your daughter to show you what she's been doing
or whatever--don't rush out.
Starting daycare at 3 months
I will be going back to work part time in July, when my daughter is three
months old, and I will need to find at least half day care for her. Has
anybody had some experience with starting day care this early? Mary Carol
I've just started my daughter in day care at St. John's infant Center.
Cara is four months old, but St. John's takes babies as young as 3 months.
Cara loves it there. She likes watching the "older" babies (e.g. the 6 and
7 month olds who can roll over and crawl) and gets lots of extra hugging
from the staff. She usually comes home tired but happy, full of smiles.
Her older sister went through the same baby room, onwards to the "big kids"
area (for one and two year olds) and now, at almost 3, is about to graduate
to preschool. I didn't want the girls in a big preschool with a few babies
thrown in, because I was afraid they'd get kind of lost in the shuffle and
demands of a herd of excited four-year-olds.
There are not many infant-only programs in CA because it is very expensive.
(St. Johns is largely subsidized by the church in which the program is
housed, which helps a lot.) The emphasis in CA for the past 20 years or so
has been "family-day-care" ... small programs in homes with a mix of ages,
including a couple babies. Many babies like that kind of setting too. The
quality of family daycare depends a great deal upon the individual running
that particular place. But in a good setting, I think babies enjoy being
social and being around other children and adults. After all, in many
times and cultures, they would have been around mom, grandma, auntie and a
herd of siblings and cousins all day long.
Our son, Aaron, who is now almost 2, started at a family daycare at a little
less than 3 months. He loves it. Our childcare provider, Robin Fetisoff,
seems to generally prefer taking new kids when they are very little. One
advantage to starting so young is that it seems that separation anxiety, at
least associated with going to childcare, is reduced or absent entirely, as
they are so familiar with the provider before those stages hit.
I waited until my daughter was able to crawl until I
placed her at daycare. I was told by many parents that
children just don't get enough attention at daycare and so,
I figured that my daughter would at least be able to crawl
to the toys and amuse herself without needing constant
attention. I also observed some of the younger babies get
poked at or stepped on by older babies, and I sighed in
relief that Rebecca was old enough to defend herself. (I'm
sure that babies get prodded by other children no matter
which daycare center they're in). Teachers are not always
able to watch everyone closely, specially when there are
many children around, someone's bound to get poked.
this page was last updated: Dec 24, 2012
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network