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The First Day at Day Care: How to Prepare Your Toddler (And Yourself)

Sending your little one to infant day care for the first time is a big step for both you and your child. As parents, it's only natural to feel a mix of emotions — excitement, nervousness, and perhaps a hint of separation anxiety. At Sitrin, we understand the importance of this milestone, and we're here to guide you through the process of preparing for your child's first day at day care.

 Group of parents with their children at daycare.

Preparing for the Big Day

If your child is at an age where they are talking you can help bridge the transition by speaking with your toddler about day care in advance so they have an idea what to expect. Another great way to introduce your child to day care is to show not tell, reading books together to get them excited about this new transition.

Other important steps include:

  • Plan a visit to your new day care together — Familiarity can work wonders in easing those first-day jitters. Take some time to visit the infant day care center with your child before the actual start date. Let them explore the new environment, meet their caregivers, and get a sense of the routine.

  • Talk to your provider —Share your child's schedule, feeding preferences, and any special needs they might have. This helps create a smooth transition and ensures your child's comfort. For example, Sitrin’s Child Care Center offers a full-time cook who works with a registered dietician to prepare healthy snacks and lunches and can work with dietary restrictions. 

  • Bring items from home — Send your child to day care with their favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or any other comfort item that soothes them. Having a familiar item nearby can offer a sense of security in the new environment.

Infographic showing the steps to prepare for the first day of daycare.

The First Day at Day Care

On the first day of day care, aim for a calm and unhurried morning routine. This will help both you and your child start the day on a positive note. A peaceful morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. It also helps to:

  • Arrive early — Arriving a little early gives your child the chance to settle in before the day officially begins. This can also provide an opportunity for you to have a quick chat with the caregivers and address any last-minute concerns. It might also give your child a chance to connect with another child at day care.

  • Stay positive— Children are sensitive to their parents' emotions. If you're feeling anxious, your child might pick up on it. Stay positive, and cheerful, and reassure your child that you'll be back to pick them up.

  • Say goodbye with confidence — When it's time to say goodbye, keep it short and sweet and avoid lingering. A confident goodbye helps your child understand that day care is a safe and enjoyable place.

A dad high-fiving his toddler.

 The Second Day and Beyond

Hopefully, the second day will be easier. And the day after that, and the day after that. But during the first week, it’s important to ask for feedback from the caregivers and continue to talk about day care with your child.

  • Listen and communicate — When you pick up your child, take a few moments to talk to the caregivers. They can provide insights into how your child's day went, what activities they enjoyed, and any challenges they faced.

  • Be patient — Adjusting to a new routine takes time. Be patient with both yourself and your child as you navigate this transition. And don’t panic if you see tears! It's normal for there to be some initial ups and downs.

  • Celebrate achievements — Celebrate every little achievement whether it's completing a craft, making a new friend, or even just having a good nap. Positive reinforcement helps your child associate day care with positive experiences.

Three small children playing together at daycare.

Sending your child to infant day care for the first time is a significant milestone, and at Sitrin, we're here to make this journey as smooth as possible. By preparing ahead of time, staying positive, and communicating with caregivers, you're setting the stage for a positive and enriching day care experience for your child. Remember, the first day is just the beginning of a new chapter filled with growth, learning, and beautiful memories.

At Sitrin, our dedicated team is here to help. If you or someone you know is looking for infant child care, learn more about Sitrin’s Child Day Care Program today. Call us at (315) 733-1900 to request information.


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