Getting day care ready
Sending your baby to day care for the first time creates as many emotional waves for parents as it does kids. It’s exciting to see them venturing out into the world, but surely will be upset and pining for you all day?
Sorry Mumma, but the truth for most kids is no, they won’t. They’ll be far too busy learning, playing with other kids, getting lots of attention and generally having a whale of a time. Which is what matters, right? (We’re not crying, you’re crying).
To combat the emotions, it can help to get organised ahead of time. Here, we ask some parents and a childcare professional how to get your little ducks lined up for day care.
Check vaccinations are up to date
Ensure your child’s vaccinations are up to date in line with the rules of your state. For example, Victoria has a 'No Jab, No Play' legislation that requires all children to be fully vaccinated before being enrolled in childcare or kindergarten, unless they have a medical exemption.
Get some durable play clothes
Beg, borrow or buy clothes that will stand up to the rigours of day care fun, both in and outdoors. According to working Mum Kate White, whose daughter started day care at five-months-old, hard-wearing clothes are essential for curious crawlers.
“My daughter was given so many beautiful dresses, but none of them were suitable for day care. Especially once she started crawling. Now we almost exclusively dress her in clothes from the boys’ section at Kmart or Target, as they tend to be darker in colour and made of tougher fabric.”
Get to know your day care team
Most day care centres will have an orientation program to help parents, children and carers become acquainted prior to your official start date. Be sure to attend all sessions and spend time getting to know the people who will be taking care of your little one.
Childcare centre manager Antoinette Stelitano explains why becoming familiar is so important early on:
“Forming mutual trusting relationships with your child’s educators and their new learning environment will support your child to develop similar relationships too. Ensure that your communication is open so you share information about your child that will help them settle into care and promote their development and learning. This includes their routines, likes and dislikes, your family’s culture and family activities.”
Plan your routine
Young children thrive with routine - and it goes a long way to keeping working parents sane too. Get your household day care ready by putting some thought into how the night before, drop-off and pick-up might work best for you.
From a practical standpoint, little things like packing bubs’ bag the night before go a long way. This means a sleepsuit, nappies, hat or beanie, outdoor jacket, change of clothes (or two), clean bottles and formula or breastmilk if required. Most day care centres provide cups or bottles for water and make it freely available, so a drink bottle shouldn’t be necessary - though you may wish to check.
Beyond the practicalities, it’s also important to have the whole house onboard and involved in the day care routine. This includes older kids and both parents.
Project Manager and mum Elena Sanroman says delegation is the key.
“An important part for me has been learning to let go and allow my partner to help. I think mums tend to want to do it all, but I think it works better if you share the load – even if that means some things won’t be as you like them!”
It’s perfectly normal to experience mixed emotions about sending your baby or toddler to childcare, so it’s important to give yourself and your little one time to adjust. Spending quality time in the evenings (with extra cuddles) can be a good way to reconnect to each other.
Feeling emotional at the first drop-off will inevitably come with the territory. However, mum-of-one Anna Shewan says any surge of parental guilt you feel at drop-off will be balanced out by the excitement of pick-up time.
“It can be hard to leave them, especially for the first few visits, but it gets easier. Also, the wounds from drop-off heal quickly when you pick them up and see them playing and all smiles.”
Keep them healthy on the inside
One of the challenges of the early day care months is that your little ones’ immune system may be given a workout as they are exposed to different germs.
As well as trying to maintain a balanced diet for them, it’s worth investing in a quality probiotic for babies and toddlers. Check out the range of Faulding probiotics for babies and toddlers and supplements for women.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional.