So your child has just started childcare, it’s been a couple of weeks, and they don’t seem to be settling in as well as you might have hoped. Maybe they aren’t sleeping well, refusing to eat, or are just generally upset. While it’s very natural to be concerned, try to understand that for little humans, change can be quite daunting. And starting childcare is a pretty significant change for them.

Here are some factors that affect the settling process, and tips for easing your little one into childcare life.


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Your child’s relationship with their carers

It’s important for your child to quickly start bonding and building a positive relationship with their educators. Once they’re familiar with the people around them, childcare won’t be such an “unknown” place for them anymore.


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How you can help:

Get to know the educators who are looking after your child. Communication is key here. From day one, be very clear and detailed about your little one’s routine, likes, dislikes, and other important details. You can even write it down so they can refer to it when needed! Remember that as much as your child is getting to know the carers, the educators are also getting to know your child. The better they understand your child, the better they will be at meeting your child’s needs and the quicker your child will settle.


Friendship

Just as important as your child’s relationship with their carers are the friendship and connections they have formed with other children in the centre. When they have friends who they enjoy spending time with, they will start thinking about childcare as a fun place where they can spend time with friends.


How you can help:

Find out from the educators who your child likes to play with during the day, and talk about them often. Get them excited about meeting their friends and playing together at daycare. You might also want to introduce yourself to your child’s friend’s parents and possibly set up playdates on the weekends as well.


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How accustomed they are to being around people other than you and your partner

If your child has almost never spent time away from you, it’s only expected that they’ll be a little uncomfortable when they start childcare.

How you can help:

If you feel that the case above best describes your child, you may want to consider taking a step back. Try reducing their days (i.e. from five days a week to three days a week), or doing half days instead of full days in childcare for a few weeks until they settle in better. When they're better settled, you can then gradually leave them in childcare for longer, or start increasing their days again.


Your reactions during drop-off

Drop-off time is undoubtedly hard. It’s tough to keep a happy attitude when your child cries in the morning as you're about to leave. But when you’re stressed out, your child will quickly sense it, and this can worsen their separation anxiety and affect their settling process.

How you can help:

Try to stay optimistic and calm, so your child starts thinking of childcare in a positive light. Keep your goodbyes brief, and have a special ritual or gesture that you have before you leave, to help smoothen the transition. Letting your child bring their favourite toy from home may also help give them a sense of comfort and familiarity.


Is it the centre? Wait it out, but also follow your instinct.

At the end of the day, it’s crucial to remind yourself that every child is different. Some are adaptable, whereas others are more resistant to change and may take a bit longer to settle. In saying that, if your instinct is telling you that, you may want to consider looking at other alternatives.