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Sending your baby to daycare can be nerve-wracking for both of you. Try some of these solutions for to ease your little one’s fears--and possibly your own.
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Check Out the Daycare
The number one most important step to take when preparing your infant for daycare is to ensure that the daycare situation is safe, loving, and beneficial for your baby. Visit the daycare in advance, preferably with no advance notice, and ask if you can watch the caregivers. Think about the level care that you’d like your infant to receive, and make sure that you feel comfortable with the level of care that the daycare providers seem to be giving the infants.
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If possible, bring your baby to the daycare when you visit, and let her become comfortable with the providers while you are around. Although not all providers will allow this, some will encourage you to do anything possible to help your child transition successfully. If possible, ask the daycare provider to hold your infant or play with her while you are watching. This is especially important for older infants (six months and up) who are experiencing stranger anxiety or separation anxiety.
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Introduce a “Lovey”
Choose a blanket, stuffed animal, or other toy (or allow your child to choose for you), and encourage your child to cuddle with it often. In order to give it the status of “lovey,” make sure to give it to your child often during feedings so that he will associate it with a pleasurable feeling. Then, when you send your infant to daycare, make sure to send along his lovey to give him an extra feeling of security. (Note: You might want to buy several identical loveys and rotate them so that your child will accept any of them, in the case of a lost lovey.)
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Leave Slowly, Then Quickly
Make sure to stay at the daycare center for long enough to ensure that your infant is settled in. At the same time, leave quickly, even if your baby cries when she sees you leaving. Although some infants will cry for a while after their parent leaves, many will stop crying soon afterward and become interested in their new surroundings.
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Communication is Key
Most importantly, communicate with the daycare providers. If your infant prefers a certain hold or is sensitive to certain noises or textures, tell them. If your infant has a certain bedtime routine that he is used to, or if he has any medical conditions (however slight), tell them. Make sure that you hear from the daycare providers each day as well; ask them how much the baby ate, how much he slept, and what his mood was like during the day.
These solutions for infant daycare transition will help you feel more comfortable about sending your infant to a daycare environment. They will also ensure that your baby will have a more comfortable and happy stay at her new daytime location.