Parenting Tips for Transitioning to Daycare/Childcare

For parents of young children, the transition to daycare or babysitting can seem daunting. As someone who has babysat for a few different families, I know that sometimes this transition goes smoothly without issues, and other times it’s hard on both the children and the parents for them to be left in the care of someone else for the first time. However, both daycare and babysitting can be great opportunities for children to build relationships, increase social skills, and experience a bit of independence! I found two articles explaining tips that you can use to help ease children into this new adjustment.

In an article titled “Transitioning Your Baby to a Caregiver,” Lori Mihalich-Levin recommends having a ‘transition week’ in which the amount of time your child spends in childcare increases each day. This allows both of you to adjust to the new schedule. She also advises parents not to linger. It’s easier for you and your child to not have an extended goodbye, even though it will be hard not to. Don’t forget to plan for extra cuddle time with your child at home, especially during that first week!

A Motherly article I found outlines ways for parents to ease their child’s transition to daycare. Christina Clemer, a mother and teacher, spoke of her own experiences starting her child in a baby program. One tip that made this easier for them was to visit the school/daycare center first together if possible. Your child will be able to see this new environment and feel more familiar and comfortable. Clemer suggests that parents should talk to their child about what they can expect when they arrive (the name of their teacher/caregiver, their daily schedule, etc.) to make them feel safer.

If possible, request a copy of your child’s schedule and try to follow it at home. For example, you could adjust your lunch and nap times to match the new daycare schedule. Clemer says this can make the rhythms of the school day feel more natural to your child. She also recommends having a quick, confident goodbye with your child when it’s time to leave. If children can tell you are anxious or upset, they may read that signal and feel anxious themselves.

3 tips for transitioning to childcare:

  • Know what to expect - having details about your child’s daycare and daily schedule will ease some of the anxious feelings you both may feel

  • Adjust your schedule - aligning your home activities, such as naps and meal times, with the new schedule will make daycare feel more natural for your child

  • Keep your goodbye short - have one long hug before you leave, but don’t linger

Every parent knows that starting a daycare program is a huge adjustment, not only for your child but for you as well. All new schedules can feel a bit strange or hectic at times, but just remember to breathe and in a few weeks time, the family will feel adjusted and comfortable with the changes. Soon enough, your child will be making friends, learning new things, and enjoying new experiences!


Lyndsey Watkins is a senior at UNCW. She is majoring in English with a concentration in professional writing and a minor in journalism.

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