Are you preparing to send your baby to daycare as an infant? Worried about the process as a whole? We’re here to help.
Before you send your 3-month-old to daycare, you’ll need to prepare for the experience, choose the right center, and prepare your child beforehand.
This article will cover all of those aspects and more so that you’re fully prepared to send your precious child off to school for the first time.
Table of Contents
- Preparing to send your baby to daycare
- How to choose the right daycare
- Prepare your child before daycare
- Remember that it’s a transition
- Reflect on their first day
- Final thoughts
Preparing to send your baby to daycare
Sending your baby to daycare after spending most of your days together is a huge transition that can seem daunting; however, if you and your child are well prepared, this transition can and will go smoothly.
In this article, you will learn which steps to take to feel confident and calm for your child’s first day of daycare, including:
- Choosing the right daycare by researching safety and cleanliness, reputability, and nutrition
- Preparing your child beforehand by visiting the center, talking about daycare, and preparing a routine
- Preparing yourself by viewing the experience as a natural transition
- Processing the experience afterward by reflecting on the first day with your child
How to choose the right daycare
Choosing the right daycare is the most important thing to do to ensure your baby’s happiness and safety and to put your mind at ease. If you enroll in the right daycare, everything else will fall into place. When researching, take into consideration the daycare’s safety, cleanliness, reputability, and nutrition.
A well-run, sanitary daycare will have a sign that spells out its health and sanitation rules and follows them accordingly. This should include:
- The caregiver washing their hands after each diaper change
- Feeding utensils are disposable or washed in a dishwasher
- Bottles are prepared sanitarily
- There is no sharing of pacifiers, washcloths, and teething rings
- All food prep and diaper areas are kept separate and properly cleaned after each use
- Everyone washes their hands upon entering the classroom
- Each child gets a separate toy box and each toy is rinsed with sanitizer
To ensure the daycare is a safe place for your child, make sure the environment matches the standard of safety in your home. This includes having:
- Gates blocking open stairways
- Floors clear of toys
- Marked smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and exits
- No small toys that could be choking hazards
- No fluffy linens or pillows in cribs
- Babies put to sleep on their backs
- Upstairs windows containing guards
- An enclosed outside play place
- A clean bathroom and kitchen
The best way to ensure the daycare displays good safety and cleanliness is to research online, ask friends or family with kids at that daycare, and visit the center in person.
An easy way to determine a daycare’s reputation is to choose an accredited center that meets high care standards. The best group daycare centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the best in-home centers are accredited by National Association for Family Child Care.
Both of these associations offer daycare finders via their website. You can also get advice from your pediatrician, other parents from work, friends, and family, or other moms you meet in the OB/GYN waiting room, playground, or mommy-and-me classes.
At three months old, your baby should be fed on demand and held while given a bottle. Once your child gets older, they must go no more than three hours without getting a snack or meal.
Meals should be prepared to the standards set by the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children. Some centers participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) administered by the USDA to ensure the center is trained in good nutrition practices and provides them to your child.
Prepare your child before daycare
Separation anxiety can affect you and your child, but you can prepare your child by familiarizing them with the center. Visit the center with your child, talk about the daycare in a positive light, and prepare a routine before the big day.
Visit the center
Schedule a time with your center to visit. Allow your child to get used to the environment while you get to know the staff, ask any questions, and check the center for safety and cleanliness.
If possible, leave your child in the room for small increments that increase over time. Give your child a proper goodbye and assure them you will return. With each return, your child will gain the confidence they are safe and will begin to enjoy the environment.
Talk about daycare
Talking about daycare in a positive light will familiarize your child with the center and make it seem like a fun, exciting place they can’t wait to visit. Talk about the new friends your child will make or the games they will play.
Prepare a Routine
A good routine begins at night. Mornings before daycare can be wrought with time-wasting decisions, so prepare bags, clothes, and bottles the night before.
Wake your child up in a calm manner with enough time for an unhurried morning. If you are calm, your child will be calm. Keep the same routine and, eventually, your child will look forward to it and will be prepared for the first full day of daycare.
Remember that it’s a transition
It is normal for children to cry when being left at daycare. Many parents feel guilty about this, but no one is judging you as a parent. Everyone has been there and understands. It is a hard transition, but you and your child will adjust in no time.
Reflect on their first day
After your child’s first day, spend quality time with them doing their favorite activity. Make sure to talk with them about their first day, reassuring them that everything is okay and that daycare is a fun and safe place to be.
Transitioning from being at home with your baby to leaving them at daycare is hard. Luckily, by being well-prepared and getting your child used to the change little by little, daycare can become their favorite destination instead of a dreaded goodbye.