Brooke Tucker-Reid, momstown writer
It’s heartbreaking and exciting at the same time. Your baby is growing and developing at a rapid pace. It’s like you blinked and your mat leave was over. Are you returning to work soon? Here are a few tips for a smooth daycare transition.
The early bird gets the worm
Shop around and get on daycare lists early. If you live in a densely populated Canadian city, good daycare spots can be tough to come by. It’s not uncommon for parents to register their kids on top daycare wait lists before they give birth. We registered for three daycares when our daughter was a month old and only got into one by the time my mat leave had ended. Can you say stressful?
Do your homework
Be open to daycare locations close to home, en route to work, or near your office. Schedule a tour before committing to a waitlist so you can get a feel for the facility, daily routine and staff. Ensure the daycare has proper licensing, including all daycare staff. There are plenty of online resources and ratings available depending on where you live.
Attend playgroups to get your youngster used to the environment (and germs). When my daughter was about a month old, I started taking her to playgroups like story time classes at the local library and circle time at Ontario Early Years Centres. In the beginning, I felt like it benefitted my partially existent social life rather than her early development. By the time she was 10-11 months old, she would park herself in front of the facilitator to participate in activities instead of sitting with me. It made me feel like she would be more comfortable in a daycare environment. Some drop-in centres even offer daycare transition services, where they will care for your child for a couple hours.
Think of daycare as a chilly swimming pool. Most people like to dip their toe in to test the waters, then ease the rest of their bodies in. Once you get used to the feeling, you usually have a fun time. Daycare is new, unfamiliar and often frightening for babies. Ease them into the idea in a similar way. Most daycare facilities offer a transition program where you can take them for a visit on day one, leave them for an hour on day two, try out a half day on day three, then by day four they should be more comfortable with the idea.
Germs germs germs
Stock your medicine cabinet because your mini will get sick. Every parent I’ve talked to has the same experience. My daughter was sick with a cold or fever for a whole month after starting daycare. That lead to the whole family getting sick as well. Daycare staff will send your child home if they have a fever. Be proactive and check your boss’ temperature on working from home in case you have to stay home to care for a sick baby. Your sick days will run out.
There will be tears (I cried more than my daughter did). It will cost a lot at first (around the cost of rent in some cities). Eventually, most kids love it and they will learn a ton which will prepare them well for school. Good luck!