Starting Daycare

Returning to work and abandoning my baby at day care was not something that I was looking forward to, and in fact delayed by a month.  I have now been back at work for 2 weeks, our daughter has been at day care for 3 weeks and luckily it has been a relatively smooth transition.  Here are some observations, pointers and thoughts on the experience so far.

Preparation

  • Familiarisation and orientation sessions – This is a really important one.  We were lucky enough to start off with about four 1-3 hour familiarisation sessions with me in the room, and with me outside the room.  This helped both baby and mother feel more comfortable about the change in routine and the idea of being separated.  Then there were a couple of full days before I went back to work, just like a dress rehearsal.  This way you can make sure or at least trial your little one is able to eat and sleep at day care.
  • Ask questions – If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask.  The staff are used to it, it will give you better peace of mind, and you will be ore prepared.
  • Feeding/Bottles – Have a plan for what you plan to do for milk feeds and preferably put it into action at least a few weeks beforehand.  Will you express or use formula, and will your child take it from a bottle?  How will your milk supply handle the change?  I keen to not have to express at work, so after much persistence we managed to get our bubby drinking formula from a bottle.  On the three days I work, I feed her first thing in the morning and at bedtime, and she gets two bottles at day care.  There is some engorgement, but mostly not the the point of being painful.  The other days of the week I breast feed all feeds and hope this is enough to keep my supply going.
  • Clothing – We went out and splurged on a set of clothes from Target, Big W and K-mart.  Kids get messy at day care (I saw one child literally covered from head to toe in food at lunchtime), so we wanted a set of robust clothes that could be messed up with food, dirt, paint, etc.
  • Labels – Label all clothing, bottles and anything else you pack for day care.  We were given a day care set of labels from Bright Star Kids and purchased an extra set of clothing labels.

At Day Care

  • Sickness – It is a pretty well known fact that your kids will pick up all sorts of germs from day care and will get sick.  After the orientation, our daughter came down with a cold, which then developed into an ear infection.  As a result mum and dad got colds too.  In the short time we have been going, there have also been notices of chicken pox, lice and conjunctivitis going around the centre.
  • Sleeping – I have been told it can take a month or so for our babies to get used to sleeping at day care.  It is a new environment, there is so much going on and other crying babies to contend with.  I figure, if she is really tired she will sleep, and if she doesn’t sleep so well at day care, it means she will sleep really well at night.
  • Learning – Your baby will get exposure to new toys, new people, other babies and activities that you don’t get a chance to do at home.  Surely this is a good thing.  The other day she was found in the sand pit at the end of the day.  I am sure some sand must have been ingested.  She has also just begun crawling.  Perhaps it is co-incidence, or maybe seeing other children do it gave her some encouragement.
  • Food – They get fed very well at day care!  Breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon snack and optional dinner.  I think our daughter also eats better at day care because she sees the other children eating which encourages her to do the same.  She also gets to try some new foods which we haven’t given her at home and possibly also helps with the development of her eating by getting new textures.

Thoughts

  • Separation – Surprisingly we haven’t found the experience and separation too traumatic.  We have always encouraged our baby to play independently which may have helped.  And for my own peace of mind I remind myself that the people looking after her have a lot more experience with children than I do, they are professional and know what they are doing.  I like to think that the variety and new experiences she is getting help with her development.
  • The hardest part – I have found the hardest part of the day care experience is that on the days I work I really only get to see her maybe two hours a day.  It does make me sad and there is a bit of guilt that goes with it, but on the other hand it makes me really enjoy and appreciate the days that I do get to spend with my little munchkin.
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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Literary Feline
    May 17, 2011 @ 13:55:10

    I went back to work today and although my little girl will be with her father for the next few weeks, she will soon be going to daycare. I’m confident in our choice of daycare providers and like you mention, feel that the experiences she will get at daycare will help with her development–in fact, that was one of the factors I specifically looked for in a daycare provider and asked about at length during the interview process.

    My biggest hurdle now is dealing with my own separation anxiety. And like you, only seeing my daughter a very short amount of time on work days. It isn’t going to be an easy adjustment for sure, but your post gives me hope that it’s doable. Thank you.

    Reply

  2. caspette
    May 17, 2011 @ 18:53:42

    I agree the only seeing them for a short time when working a full day is hard. Its also doubly hard because your tired and just want to sit in your bum. I have found a way around that is laying on the floor and let the little monkey play around/over me, then I get play time and sit on my bum time 🙂

    Your advice is good, and the adjustment period before you return to work is vital I think as well.

    Great post thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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