Leaving your baby or toddler at a new program can be very trying — for you and for your child. You want her to be comfortable and happy, but sometimes infants and toddlers have a difficult time adjusting to folks who aren't their parents. Babies tend to cry and fuss when Mom and Dad aren't around, and many toddlers wilt with worry when their parents leave them in the care of others.
Here are some tips to help your little one make the transition and feel more comfortable in group care:
Make drop-off and pick-up time leisurely. Calm, reassuring good-byes in the morning and a warm hug and kiss in the afternoon can be a great comfort. Try not to hurry through drop-off or pick-up time — toddlers don t like to be rushed! They'll stay calmer if you remain low key and loving, so try to schedule ample time.
Bond with the teacher. It's important to show your child that you're comfortable with her teacher. Try to hand her over to the caregiver, rather than simply leaving her in the room. Expressing your trust in the caregiver in this way will make it easier for your child and her caregivers to get along peacefully and comfortably.
Bring photos of your child doing favorite activities. Make a book of familiar scenes — such as your baby playing with a ball on the lawn or dancing in your arms. Your caregiver can share the pictures in this special book with your child whenever she needs special reminders of home.
Let your baby bring a favorite lovey. If your child has a special blanket or soft animal that seems to calm her down magically, she may like having it with her at child care. (Most infant and toddler programs allow loveys.)
Have quiet together time when you get home. Snuggle with your child to give her some calming time after school. A ritual of sharing a favorite picture book can become a source of deep comfort for her. And, of course, be generous in providing lap time, hugs, and loving caresses.
Work with the teacher. The biggest help you can give your child's teacher is to share information about her needs, likes, and routines. Let her know what techniques seem to work when she's fussy or upset. How does she like to be held? Does she prefer being rocked or walked around? At naptime, do you always sing lullabies or play special tapes of sleepy-rime songs.? Also let the teacher know about your child's earning habits. Little differences in child care routines can sometimes bewilder a youngster. The more you share about how you comfort your child, the easier you'll make her transition.