Is your new baby ready for his or her first day of daycare?
That initial drop-off can be a doozy for parents who might be a little nervous to leave their little one for the first time. And the COVID-19 pandemic certainly doesn’t make things any easier.
So, we talked to two moms who gave us their best daycare tips for new moms and dads.
Keep reading to learn more!
First things first: it’s normal to feel anxious
Jan Elizabeth Ditchfield knows first-hand how hard the first day of daycare can be.
She’s the CEO and founder of Ontario-based RISE Mama; she helps moms find balance at work and home.
When Jan took her daughter to daycare for the first time, she was anxious to leave her with a stranger.
“The first day, for me, was very difficult,” Jan said. “Leaving my daughter with someone who was a stranger at the time and then having to sit in traffic worrying all the way to my office brought on some tears.”
But Jan said she felt fortunate to have a provider who understood how challenging the transition was.
She was thankful they sent videos, photos, and messages throughout the day.
“It’s now 11 months later and our care providers have become family to us,” she said. “I can’t imagine life without these amazing women who love my daughter like she was their own!”
Tip 1: Do the Prep Work
Jan suggests getting hyper-organized before the big day.
“Remember what it was like to get out of the house on time before you had a baby? Now imagine having to do this for you and another human,” she said.
She advised doing everything possible to help yourself get up and out the door each morning with the least amount of stress.
For example, set clothes out (for you and your baby) the night before, she suggested.
Jan also practiced her commute to daycare and work (during rush hour) so she’d know exactly how much time she would have each morning.
Do a Trial Run
Amy Griswold Martin is an associate account director with IBM in Atlanta.
She suggested doing a trial-run, so several days before your first day back to work, take your child to daycare for a few hours each day.
“This will help you figure out the drop off process, allow your kiddo to have a short introduction, and give you some peace of mind about where they’ll be,” she said.
Tip 2: Communication is Key
Jan said in order to feel comfortable with your daycare, it’s important to clearly communicate your wishes and how you want them implemented while your child is at daycare.
“Be clear about your parenting values and how you want those reflected in the manner in which your daycare responds to your baby,” she said. “You know very early on what type of care matters to you and your parenting values, so make sure to voice this to the people you are working with.”
For example, if you prefer attachment-style parenting, be clear so your provider knows not to implement cry-it-out techniques, Jan said.
Get to know your providers
Amy said she made an effort to get to know her son’s teachers, which helped her to feel more comfortable.
“Drop off can be chaotic, so it’s not easy to talk for long,” she said. “But the more of a relationship you build with them, the more at ease you’ll feel.”
Ask About COVID-19 Policies and Procedures
We also suggest frequently checking in with your provider about changes to their COVID-19 policies and procedures, since these can change without a lot of warning.
Here are a few questions to consider asking:
- What plans are in place if a caregiver or child tests positive for COVID-19?
- What are the Center’s sanitation protocols?
- Is the daycare following CDC and Department of Health guidelines?
Also, consider having a backup plan in place in case your daycare needs to close due to the pandemic.
Be a Packing Pro
Check with your childcare provider for a list of items they require parents to bring from home.
Most daycares will ask for diapers, wipes, bottles (with labels), and extra clothes/bibs.
We suggest making a list of daycare essentials to ensure your diaper bag is packed with everything your little will need each day.
Amy said to invest in quality labels and bag tags so that you and your provider can easily identify your child’s items.
And if your child is older, Jan recommended packing a duplicate of your child’s favorite comfort item, such as a blanket or toy.
“It will go a long way in helping to provide comfort to your little one when you are not there,” she said.
The decision to return to work after your baby is born isn’t always easy, but Amy said it’s important to trust yourself.
“It’s hard at first, but it gets easier,” she said. “You do you, and don't listen to people who give unsolicited opinions about your choices!
And to sum up our 3 daycare tips for new moms and dads, remember to:
- do the prep work by getting organized and doing a daycare trial run
- communicate your parenting values and get to know your providers
- check-in with your provider about COVID-19 policies and procedures
- be a packing pro by checking with your daycare to see what each child is required to bring. Also, create a checklist to ensure she’ll have everything she needs.
Seasoned parents, do you have any more tips for moms and dads who are new to the daycare scene?
If so, head to our Instagram and share them with our newer parents!