Baby Starting Daycare? Seven Tips for a Smooth Transition

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baby-starting-daycareHeading back to work and nervous about your baby starting daycare? Here are 7 tips for a smooth transition to daycare for both you and your baby. 

1. Get her used to a bottle before starting daycare

If you are breastfeeding, you will want to get your baby used to drinking from a bottle prior to starting daycare if possible. It may help to have dad or another family member/friend feed her the bottle at first because she will expect to breastfeed from you.

2. Ease into the first few days/week 

If possible, it’s helpful to ease into the full day of daycare (perhaps more for you than your baby!). I recommend at least one half-day prior to a full day. Our daycare requires a week-long transition, starting with one hour the first day, then two hours the second, and so on. This worked well for us, so consider this approach if you have the flexibility to do so.

3. Don’t hesitate to check-in

If you are sitting at work worrying about how your baby is adjusting at daycare, don’t be afraid to give them a call if it gives you peace of mind! I did this several times a day the first few days and it really helped ease my anxiety. Don’t worry about bugging the daycare staff – they are used to new-mom worry and, in my case, they were very understanding and helpful (if yours aren’t, look for a new daycare!). Hearing “Liam is doing fine. He just finished his bottle and now Ms. Olga is rocking him to sleep” made me feel so much better because I could picture what was happening.

4. Linger if you need to 

Leaving the first time might be hard, so if you need to stay a while until you feel comfortable leaving, do it. Again, don’t be afraid of bugging the daycare teachers – they understand that the transition to daycare is tough! And if you need to cry in your car for a while before you head into the office, that’s fine too! It’s completely normal to feel this way at first and I promise, it will get easier.

5. Bring familiar things for baby

Don’t forget to bring familiar items that will give your baby comfort while adjusting to a new place. For example, a favorite lovie, pacifier, stuffed animal, etc. A friend of mine’s daughter liked to snuggle with her mom’s shirt (presumably) because it smelled like her. 

6. Prepare for lots of colds

The first year of daycare will be full of snotty noses and occasional calls that your baby is running a fever and needs to be picked up (especially during the winter). You might even experience a case of pink eye and a tummy bug or two. (Spoiler alert – you will likely be getting sick a lot too!) This is normal, as your baby is building up his immune system. As my pediatrician explains it, they either build up their immune system now, or when they start school, so just expect it and prepare. Once your child is 6 months old, get a flu shot. Also, be sure to check with your pediatrician about how to handle fevers. Ours gave us a chart for dosing acetaminophen which came in handy (remember, no ibuprofen until your child is 6 months old and no aspirin). Don’t worry – there is an end in sight! After the first year or so, my son started getting sick much less frequently (and now doesn’t seem to get sick any more frequently than my friends’ kids who aren’t in daycare).

7. Remember that it’s probably harder on you and that it gets easier

Hang in there, mama! The transition to daycare is tough, but every day will get a little easier, and you will find your groove in no time. Daycare has been a wonderful experience for our family. My son has made friends, I’ve made friends with the other parents, and the teachers have become like family. Most of my friends whose kids are in daycare say the same thing. I hope your experience will be equally positive. Good luck!

For tips on transitioning a toddler to a new daycare, check out this post

Do you have any tips to add to these? Leave a comment!

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Mallory is a digital marketer and mom to an energetic toddler. She lives in NW DC with her husband and son. Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Mallory moved to DC in 2007 after graduating from Wake Forest University (go Deacs!). Mallory went to graduate school for Health Communication & Marketing, so she especially enjoys writing about health-related topics. She’s an advocate for all things in moderation, including moderation. Likes: sauv blanc, Netflix, true crime, all things crafty. Dislikes: winter, traffic, non-adherence to the courtesy wave. All of my opinions are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer.