Preparing for Childcare

Transition to childcare can be a challenging time for everyone!  If you are still considering different options, see our section on Choosing the Right Childcare Option for you.  This section outlines what to watch for when transitioning your child into childcare and how to prepare them.

What to Watch For

Now that your child is a bit older you have a much better idea of their regular needs.  How someone is expected to know this when pregnant with their first child while touring childcare options is beyond me...  Generally with daycares or day homes, the month before care starts you are encouraged to attend with your child for transition days.  The time frame is usually facility dependent, but I would plan for at least 3 half days.  During transition days there area a couple key things I could keep in mind to watch for:


1. Staff and Children Interaction: Do the children all look comfortable with ALL the staff?  Watch for how they handle bad behavior and make sure you are comfortable with it!

2. Nap Routine: What is the nap routine like?  How flexible is it?  Do you need to try and transition your child to one nap at home before attending?  Make sure the room is dark if it is not separated from the main space.  Ask about how long the quiet time lasts, for instance do they prepare snacks in the same room?  Generally children 12 months to 3 years old require approximately 2 hours of quiet time, so how do the staff handle the children that won't sleep, etc...

3. Meal time: Ask to see the menu.  Do they have a kitchen, or are all meals prepared and microwaved on site?  Make sure to watch that the young children are closely supervised while eating to avoid choking hazards.

4. Cleanliness/Hygiene: Do they wash the children's hands before meal time?  Watch to make sure the staff clean their own hands and the changing tables after each diaper change.

Remember this is your child, so if there is something that makes you uncomfortable ask the staff what they can do to accommodate to your concerns! 

Preparing Your Child

Transition days are important to try and get you and your child familiar with the staff.  There is nothing worse than worrying about your child, so take advantage of this time too so you can know they are getting great care.  When starting new care children generally all act out in different ways, this is a big change for them!  Pack them with the items below to ensure a smooth transition.

Get a small backpack: let them carry it around the house before you go, store their favorite toys inside and tell them it's for school!  Then pack the below items inside when childcare starts.

1. Bottle of milk/formula: If you give your child a bottle before nap, make sure they have one when not at home too!

2. Familiar food items: Some children refuse to eat in a new environment at first.  Pack some of their favorite snacks, even granola bars or squeezie packs will do!  It's important to help the staff make sure they have something to offer your child if they refuse what's on the regular menu.  Eventually when they are more comfortable they will eat with the crew...

3. Comfort items: This is especially important for nap time.  Make sure whatever you have at home you keep a duplicate at the childcare facility!

4. Water bottle/cup: Water is beyond important for little people.  So if they have a favorite water bottle or cup at home bring it!

5. 2-3 Changes of clothes: Remember to also include a bag for soiled clothes.

6. Seasonal Clothing: Most childcare facilities include outside time in the daily schedule, ensure your child has adequate clothing to stay warm/dry/cool.

Lastly, remember this is a big change for both of you.  Try not to get upset when you drop off your child, just reassure them you will be back for them at the end of the day.  I always cried in my car for the first three weeks I left my child, but once we got into a routine it got better, and then my child would look forward to seeing all her friends every morning!  I would play on this and talk to her in the car on the way there, "are you excited to go to school today and see your friends?" and every time I would ask I would get a big smile.