Q: My baby is very attached to her caregivers at daycare. Is this normal? I'm worried about what might happen if the women at her childcare center leave.
A: For starters, it's great that your daughter has built such a strong relationship with her caregivers. But your concern is valid: It's important for your child to willingly accept care from others as well. First, make sure the rest of the staff understands your concerns. They've probably had experience dealing with similar issues in the past and can offer ideas for how to improve the situation. Basically what they'll need to do is shake up (ever so gently) the status quo. They may, for example, make a point to integrate the other caregivers into your daughter's daily routine, slowly and one at a time, instead of allowing her favorite to always lead the way. The other staffers can talk to your daughter while her preferred caregiver changes her diaper or feeds her, or they can participate in her favorite morning activities. Simple, minor adjustments such as these will help your baby accept care from other adults.Do not, however, insist that your daughter's favored caregiver keep her distance for a while. This will not help your child develop relationships with the rest of the staff. On the contrary, such a tactic is bewildering and painful for children, and it weakens their ability to build other healthy relationships. Just make sure your daughter feels safe and loved as she develops bonds with the classroom's other teachers. In time, she'll form close relationships with new, trustworthy people.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, January 2008.