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Tips for Starting Childcare

Written by KATIE SAUNDERS

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Posted on August 02 2023

tips for starting childcare

One of the hardest titans as a parent is deciding when your little one should start childcare and choosing the best option for you. It could be a Day Nursery, Nanny or Childminder whichever you choose, it will be a big adjustment for you and your little one settling into a new routine.

Here are a few ideas that might help. 


Ease into it gently

Most nurseries and childminders will suest having settling in sessions prior to the first full day. This will usually entail you attending the setting with your little one for the first visit and then you little lone staying on their own for a short period of time. It will then usually extend to you little one staying with them over a meal and for nap time if your little one still naps. Then when they are dropped off on the first full day they will have an understanding of the environment and recognise some of the people that look after them there.


Be strong and prepared for tears

Children often get upset, especially to start with, but that isn’t necessarily a sign that something is wrong – it’s more likely their way of communicating that they don’t want you to leave. Separation anxiety and fear of strangers usually starts around 8 - 9 months, which is not ideal considering that’s when many families start to think about starting their child in nursery. Try to have a smile on your face. Even if you’re crying inside at the thought of leaving them all day, try to make sure your little one doesn’t pick up on your distress.


Acknowledge you own feelings

It’s important to acknowledge your own feelings about leaving your little one,  you may well be worried and upset at having to part from them for such a long period of time. You will also no doubt worry about whether you are doing the right thing. It’s important that you acknowledge this and if you can talk about it with family or friends so that you don’t let it get bottled up inside. 


Remember that you know your child the best

You are the expert on your little one so let the people who are caring for them know all the information they can, what time they usually nap, do they have a comforter, what do they like to eat, what toys do they like. Don’t feel that you have to go along with anything that you don’t think will suit your little one. Over time they will no doubt fit into a new routine but for the first few weeks it is important they have some time to adjust.


Keep goodbyes simple

Saying goodbye is always the hardest part but you can be sure, the longer you draw it out you the worse it will be. If you can, get into a routine of giving your little one a hug and a kiss and then leaving with a wave and an “I love you, see you soon”. Even if it’s killing you on the inside, it is easier for them to deal with than lots of long hugs with tears and words like “I’m going to miss you so so so much today” even if that’s the truth.


Trust in the carers expertise

Nursery staff, Childminders and Nannies have been through this transition many times. They know what they’re doing and they want you and your baby to succeed - listen to their advice and work with them to find what works for your little one.


Keep in touch

Don’t be afraid to keep in touch with your little ones' carers throughout the day, they won’t mind at all if you call or text to ask how everything is going. If it puts your mind at ease then go for it! If you have a Nanny they will often send photos of what your little one has been up to during the day and some day nurseries have apps that keep parents up to speed with what happen during the day, meals, naps and photos of activities 


Have reasonable expectations.

This big change rarely comes without any ups and downs, it can take a couple of weeks for your little one to settle into this new routine. You may find that nap times go out of the window for the first few weeks which will impact your evenings without a doubt. Or that your little one doesn’t eat much during their day away from you meaning they’re hungry and upset when you return. Be reasonable with your expectations and keep up good communication and a good relationship with your little one's key worker. Things will settle down eventually.


Settling your baby into childcare can be a rollercoaster for all the family and, unfortunately, tears and worries are a natural part of this. But, rest assured, things will settle down and you will all adjust to this new stage. 

Every child is different and they may also have different reactions to starting childcare at different ages. My 3 started at 10 months, 2 years & 1 year 3 months and all had very different reactions to it. My 10 months olds transition was by far the easiest for the child but the hardest for me. I used to run all the way to pick him up everyday for months.

And, of course, if it’s not working for you or your child, you can always change your mind and look into other arrangements. So try not to worry too much and be kind to yourself during this time of change.

Remember that you’ve chosen this childcare knowing that it will help to broaden your little one’s exposure to new experiences and skills, which in turn, will have a positive impact on their overall wellbeing and development.


Wishing you a smooth journey!

Katie x

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