How do I get my toddler to adjust to daycare?
My 27-month old started daycare for the first time a week ago. She hates it, yells, cries and wines every morning from the time we wake up until I drop her off. How do I help her get adjusted to the change?
Separation can be very difficult for toddlers. Children should be eased into a separation with parents gradually spending less and less time at the daycare center in order for the child to feel a sense of security and safety. There are a few things you can do to help her adjust.
- Let your child get familiar with other children in the center by planning a playgroup or playdate on the weekends.
- If possible, have the child-care provider come to your house for a visit.
- Talk with your child about her feelings.
- Avoid big changes at home, such as getting a new pet, having visitors, starting potty training, switching to a big bed, or redecorating your child’s room.
- Let your child bring a transitional object like a lovey, pacifier, blanket, or stuffed animal.
- Give your child a book of family photos to take with her.
- If you cannot stay around until your child is comfortable in the new daycare, see if you can get another family member to go in your place.
- Make sure to let your child know when you are coming back, when she will go home, who will feed her, who will take care of her, and so on.
- Read lots of books about day care and transitions.
- Always say good-bye. Never sneak away from your child!
- Once you do say good-bye, leave right away. Do not hover anxiously by the door. Show your child that you have confidence in the care providers.
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.