How to Help an Infant Adjust to Daycare

Baby girl (9-12 months) reaching for origami crane hanging from string, close-up
Infant grabbing at paper airplane. (Image: Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The Babycenter website states that approximately 30 percent of children younger than five years old attend daycare. It can be a reliable, affordable option for parents returning to work after having a baby. Unfortunately, the transition can be difficult for some babies. Even at a young age, your infant is extremely sensitive and emotionally intelligent. When you introduce him to daycare, the security and comfort he felt at home with you is compromised. Luckily, there are many ways to help your baby adjust to his new surroundings.

Step 1

Visit the daycare with your baby several times before the first day you leave her in their care. Let your baby interact with her caregiver and other children. The Family Education website explains that this can help make baby more comfortable and ease the transition.

Step 2

Put your baby on a consistent sleep schedule before starting daycare. Regular sleep times will give him a sense of security as he transitions to daycare.

Step 3

Help your baby to adjust to his new surroundings. The Scholastic website suggests leaving a T-shirt or handkerchief with your smell on it. This will help settle baby at naptime.

Step 4

Cuddle baby as much as possible when you are home from work. Allow her time to just be with you, enjoying the parent who was missed so much during the day.

Tip

Don’t be surprised if your baby begins to wake frequently at night—even if she has consistently slept through the night in the past. According to the Scholastic website, this is all part of your baby’s adjustment to you returning to work. Your infant may awake more frequently to seek your attention or extra affection. Be there for him, knowing that it is just another sign of his developing emotional intelligence.

Sing, read or just talk to your baby at bedtime. The Family Education website states that the dependability of a consistent routine at home will help her cope with any uncertain feelings she has about daycare.

Warning

The Family Education website warns that a baby’s separation anxiety can be extreme. It may last for more than two weeks. Never react to your infant’s anxiety with impatience or by getting upset. Talk to your childcare provider to make sure your baby’s tears stop shortly after you leave. If separation anxiety doesn’t resolve itself after a few weeks, it is important to evaluate the daycare to make sure there is nothing else upsetting your baby.

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