Making the big step to start your little one at child care as well as finding the right place can be challenging. There is no such thing as the perfect moment to begin child care. You need to consider what suits your family and where you feel comfortable.
To assist in the decision of choosing a child care centre:
- Do some research and speak to the staff about their care culture, policies and procedures. You could go to the centre to observe what they do on a daily basis
- Ask other parents for their recommendations and feedback on child care centres in your area
- Look for a centre which offers you ongoing information about your toddler’s routines, needs and experiences.
Once you choose a child care provider, it’s a good idea to organise enrolment early as there are usually limited spots due to high demand. Having your child in care can be an exciting, overwhelming and emotional time for you and your family.
To make the introduction to child care a more pleasant experience, here are some tips below:
Before the Big Day
- Prepare your toddler for child care by talking about it, tell them when they will be going, what their new routine will be like and the new friends they will meet
- Read some picture books together about starting child care or you could make up some stories about their first day talking about the feelings they might experience, such as excitement, anxiety, fun and tiredness
- Ask the centre for a copy of their daily schedule, so you or can? start doing the same with your toddler at home, for example naps and meals at the same times
- Organise some visits with your toddler to the child care centre so they can become familiar with the new environment and people. Encourage them to join in some of the activities and play with the toys
For the First Day
- Start the day organised: Pack your child’s bag the night before and make sure your morning is not rushed. This can help decrease any stress and reduce anxiety levels. Try not to let your toddler pick up on any anxious feeling you may have – they may notice and begin to feel unsettled
- Help your toddler get settled: When you arrive, help your toddler find an activity that they really like. Sit and play with them until they have time to settle
- Positive goodbyes: When it is time for you to go, don’t sneak out. Say goodbye and always let them know you will be back later to collect them
- Don’t be tempted to go back in: Be firm when saying goodbye, staying around to try and comfort them can sometimes make it even harder for your toddler and prolong their distress. Give the carer a call later in the day to see how they are going
Settling into the New Routine
- Most little ones will settle into their new routine well, but be aware your toddler may be happy for the first few days or weeks of starting child care and when the novelty wears off they get upset when you leave them
- If your toddler isn’t settling into their new routine, stay calm and allow your child to express their feelings. Acknowledge these by listening to what they are saying and reassure them. They may be showing signs of separation anxiety. To read more about Separation Anxiety click here.
- Talk with the child care staff so you know how your little one is settling in. If your toddler is finding it hard, work with the carers on some strategies to make the transition easier and ask about some solutions which have helped other children
- Be prepared for your toddler to be a lot more tired after a busy day of playing. Sometimes, they may even start wetting the bed again but this usually only lasts for a few nights
- Sometimes the child care centre you have chosen won’t be right for your little one e.g. they may seem afraid to go to there. If this is the case, consider finding a different place for them to attend
When your Toddler has a Health Condition
When enrolling your toddler into child care it is important to let the centre know their medical history, particularly if your little one has a health condition. To assist the staff in caring for your child you can create an action plan with your health care professional.
Key things you should discuss are:
- Emergency contact details
- How to recognise when a health condition is getting worse
- Activities that may not be safe
- How to give certain medications if necessary
- How to avoid triggers e.g allergy and asthma.