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Once you've found a good daycare center, you'll want to get your child off to a smooth start. Here are some tips to help make this a positive experience all around.
Set a good tone with the caregiver
Remember to pay the fees when they're due and pick up your child on time. You may also want to check in with the center's director about what she expects from parents. (Read more about how to create a good relationship with your daycare providers.)
Ease your child's transition
When you leave your child at a daycare center – even a stellar one – she may still long for you. If your child is around 7 to 12 months old, she may have an especially hard time adjusting to being away from you because stranger anxiety is common at this age. You may have to take a little extra time to get her settled before you leave.
To make the transition a little easier, create a small album of family photos and leave it at the center for her to look at whenever she likes. If dropoffs are traumatic every day, consider asking a staff member to cuddle or play with your child while you depart. Or think of a daily ritual, like leaving a brief love note behind for her to open later in the day.
Make it a positive change
Set aside some time at the end of the day to reconnect with your child. (This is important no matter what type of childcare you choose.)
Ask your child to tell you about the things she did that day so she'll remember that time away from you can be fun, too. If she brings home artwork or a project, spend time looking at it with her and ask questions about how she made it.
Let her know that you missed her and wished you could be with her during the day. Hold her close and tell her how much you love her. Babies will feel your love and sincerity, and toddlers will appreciate your words.
Work with caregivers to solve problems
Some parents discover that their child isn't sleeping well at nap time. If your child is used to sleeping in a crib at home, she may not be able to fall asleep on a cot or mat in the middle of a crowded room.
If this is the case, ask whether any other sleeping arrangements are available. Perhaps she could sleep with the younger children in a different room, or you could offer to bring in a portable crib.
When it's time for toilet training, you may need to make special arrangements as well. Some kids are afraid to use full-size toilets at the daycare center, but do just fine with a portable potty like the one used at home.
If you feel that your child isn't happy or that the daycare staff isn't caring for your child as you wish, schedule a conference to speak with her caregivers about it. A few simple changes in routine or a little extra attention from the staff could make all the difference for your child.
But if your child doesn't seem to be flourishing and is consistently unhappy, it could be time to find a different daycare.