My son has been in daycare for 2 months now. But back in August, I was clueless as to when and how I’d send my son to daycare.
Should I stay with him the first day?
Should I send him full days? Consecutive days?
Should I let him nap there? If not in the first week, when?
I had a lot of questions and searched the web for answers. I came across a few helpful tidbits. They helped me put together my integration calendar and gave me some sort of guidance as to how I should act around my baby when the time would come to leave him with his new caregiver.
1- It is better to send your kids consecutive days as opposed to sending him Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for example. At least, at first. Kids tend to have very a very short memoy span and if you send him one day, then not the next one, he’ll think it was just a fluke and mommy will keep me at home after all. It is easy for the child to know that this daycare think is here to stay and I should get used to it.
2- Mommy will come to pick you up at the end of the day. Always. Before dropping your child, explain to him how the day will go. Even if you think he doesn’t understand. They understand much more than we think. In the next leading to the first day at daycare, I explained to my son that he’d go to daycare, play with friends, and then mommy will come pick him up. I also repeat it to him in the car on the way to the daycare and then again when taking his jacket off at daycare.
A week in, I would explain the day to my son in the car and after saying: “mommy will come to pick you up” he would say: “Dah!” (Yes for him) Like, I get it mom, I know that’s how it’s gonna be! We’re still doing it today.
3- Always say goodbye to your child before leaving him. If you sneak out because you don’t want him to cry, he’ll think that sometimes mommy can disappear! Out of thin air! It’ll make him more anxious and we don’t want that. Make sure you make eye contact with your child, say Bye Bye, and then leave. Resist the urge to come back in if you hear him cry. If you do, he’ll think you’re just outside the door and he can cry to make you come back in. If you want, you can call the caregiver to make sure everything is ok, but don’t go back in. I called mine this week after dropping off my son because he started crying when I left, which never happens anymore. She said he stopped 2-3 minutes after I left. Relief! So yeah, always say goodbye.
4- Talk to the caregiver in the presence of your child. If he sees you talking to this person with ease, he’ll know that he can trust her. Try going with your child to the daycare to visit or sign papers before the first day, stay for 15-20 minutes if possible just so your child has already seen the caregiver once. He’ll see you talk to them, he’ll see is new environment, even maybe started playing with some toys. If your child stays very close to you the whole time, consider having a slow integration because he might have separation anxiety.
5- Sleeping in a new place is hard for us adults, it’s also hard for our children. If possible, try not to make your child nap at his new daycare the first day. If that’s not an option, bring with you an object he sleeps with or something he really loves. He’ll have something to hug and reminds him of home comes nap time. My son sleeps with a blanket I carry with him everyday to the daycare. It’s huge, but my son has great naps because of it. If you can, make your child sleep with a smaller blanket.. Haha.
How was your daycare integration like? What worked, what didn’t? Did you have to switch daycare after a while? How that worked out? I’ll have to change daycare at the end of March and it’s a bit scary to think about!