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How to Prepare Baby for Daycare: Tips from an Expert

The first day of daycare is just around the corner. Are you ready? Probably not, if we’re talking about feelings. But just because you’ll be an emotional wreck doesn’t mean you can’t be ready in other ways. So, how do you prepare for your baby’s first day at daycare? By going straight to the source.

Meet Renee, a distinguished daycare provider for over 20 years, who got together with us to offer you some insider information to making the big day as smooth as possible. With her help, you’re sure to be so well prepared, you’ll even remember the tissues.

Q: What should a parent look for in a daycare provider?

Renee: Of course, make sure it is someone you feel very comfortable with. My favorite thing about my job was getting a baby at three months old and they would stay until three, four, or even five years old and it was so much fun to watch them grow and become the little person they became. Sometimes, when they got older and got their driver’s license, they would come back and visit with me. This kind of relationship can be so beneficial to your baby and finding a provider you trust and get good feelings from is how you can help make that kind of relationship possible.

Besides someone they feel comfortable with, I always tell people to look for a provider who is licensed, if possible. If they aren’t licensed, that’s okay, just make sure they are CPR and first aid certified. It’s even better if they are infant-CPR certified, as it’s a different CPR experience for little ones than it is adults.

Q: What are some things parents should talk to their daycare provider about before the first day?

Renee: Always feel comfortable telling your provider how you want things done. You know your baby best and we get to know them better through you. Even things you feel are a personal matter, they matter to us. So, for example, if baby is having issues going from breast to bottle or you’re still trying to find a bottle nipple level that works, those kinds of things are very helpful for us to know about because we can work with you to work with baby. Knowing these kinds of ins-and-outs of baby’s daily life prior to spending the day with their provider will make the transition much smoother for everyone – but especially your baby.

Some things to consider talking to your daycare provider about include sleep routines, typical feeding times, and of course any allergies or sensitivities. Don’t be shy in giving your daycare a feeding and snack schedule. For toddlers, it’s also important to know how parents prefer to discipline their child. It can be a really tricky topic but consider this: If your kid bites another child and the daycare provider is unsure how you’d like them to handle the situation, you may not end up liking their personal approach to discipline.

Q: What’s one thing you want parents to know about the transition to daycare?

Renee: The most important thing to remember is that there’s going to be change in baby’s schedule from being with mom or dad during the day and being with their daycare provider. Nap time and play time – even down to the small things like the way you console baby, may be different. For example, if a baby can be calmed by being rocked in one arm while vacuuming with the other, that can’t happen at daycare. Some things have to change and that can be a little stressful for babies, so be prepared for the potential of a fussy baby in the first few days or week until they get adjusted.

While daycare providers don’t make big changes all at once, over time, baby’s daytime routine is going to follow the daycare’s overall routine, so it flows well with every child. If it’s possible, keeping that daytime routine during the weekends can help your little one not be so stressed out come Monday. That doesn’t always happen, so Monday’s can be tough on everyone. By Tuesday, though, it’s always peaches and cream again.

Q: How can parents prepare baby for the change in caregivers?

Renee: If baby is struggling with attachment, I always recommend that particular parent spend longer periods of time away from them so that baby can get used to that parent being gone. In the weeks and days leading up to the first daycare day, stretch the absence to as long as you can to help the transition into a full day.

Q: What should parents bring with baby on the first day?

Renee: Best case scenario, you’ll have two different sets of “stuff.” One bag would be all of the items that need to go home with baby at the end of the day. Like blankets, lovey, pacifiers, teethers – anything that is “personal.”

The second thing to bring is a large tote that holds all of baby’s items that can stay with your provider. Diapers, formula, bottles, baby wipes, medicines, bibs, extra clothes, burp rags – all of the day-to-day things baby uses. Make sure you mark it with baby’s name.

Also, bring important paperwork like physicals, shot records, emergency phone numbers, and names and pictures of any potential caregivers who are allowed to pick up baby from daycare if you can’t, like grandma or a godparent.

Q: What are some tips to help parents make sure they have everything baby will need?

Renee: What I liked people to do is bring enough at one time for at least two weeks. So, in that large tote, bring at least two weeks’ worth of diapers, baby wipes, formula – all the perishable things. And when it comes to formula or breastmilk, bring more than necessary if you can. Sometimes baby will have a really hungry day, so having some extra food around is important. For breastmilk, breastmilk storage bags are great because you can mark them with your baby’s name and I can keep them in the freezer, so they’ll stay good.

Bringing extra sets of items means that you don’t have to drag all of this stuff each day, just the single bag of their personal items that will go back home with them.

The first day of daycare can be stressful and full of feelings. But by having all the details sorted out prior, your time is spent with baby rather than worrying. Just make sure you don’t forget the tissues!

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