Helping Your Toddler Transition to Child Care

March 01, 2023
  • Introduction

    It’s a new year. Time to get back to work. Many parents have picked out the child care center, but still, there is a problem with the transition. This is because children get used to habits. They are used to being at home with you. Transitioning from their home where they feel safe to a new place can be difficult for them to process. This is why it takes some time for children to finally settle into their new routines.


    The question is how do you make this process easier for your child? How do you help them process this change? How can you help them see this new location as a safe place too? Here are a few tips to try.

    1. Try a practice daycare

    If it has always been just the two of you, then the transition may prove harder for your child. A good way to start is to try a practice daycare. By this I mean try leaving your child with someone else. Once they trust to be with someone else in their home, it will be easier for them to trust to be with someone else at a child care center. You can leave them with friends or babysitters, and watch how the child responds to this change.

    1. Familiarize with the center beforehand

    As the child gets comfortable without you around, then it is time to visit a child care center together. Children trust their parents and guardian. It is a given. However, it takes time for them to trust a stranger. Therefore, by visiting the school together [a couple of times], you are letting the child know that this is a safe place. It is easier for them to build trust.

    1. Baby steps

    Having visited a couple of times for your child to familiarize with the faces and environment, it is safe to get started with the real deal. Still, I will advise you to do this in phases. This is going to be tough for your child, as such, you should plan to offer as much support as necessary. You may have to start with a few hours and stay back at the child care center some days. Your child will soon get comfort and start seeing the center as a second home.

    1. Get ready for a prep talk

    Let me add that it is always good to paint the right picture. Let your child hear about the experience from you. As much as you want to make it fun, remember it won’t always be fun. Let them know what to expect and what to do. This will prepare them for the reality they will face when they get started.

    1. Say goodbye and mean it

    I say this now so casually but I know it is a big struggle for parents. Dropping off your child is an emotional experience for you and the child. Hearing them cry, reaching for you, makes it harder to say goodbye. You may find yourself crying or reluctant to leave them behind. This is absolutely normal. Like I said, take baby steps. Still, be intentional about the result. Among the steps involve saying goodbye and meaning it. It’s hard but you have to. Remember the goal is to help the child get comfortable in your absence. This won’t happen if you are always there.



    The transition to child care is an emotional process for both parents and children. Hence, I advise parents to ease into this new routine and be ready to provide all the support their children require. The good news is that it gets better as the child gets comfortable. Wait it out!

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