The transition to childcare is difficult for both parents and children. You might not be sure about leaving your baby with a stranger, while your baby prefers you to strangers and is sad to see you leave.
First of all, be sure you take as much time as you can to research childcare. You might already have a facility or childcare option in mind — do research on it, talk to others who have used it, and explore alternatives. There are many choices for different types of childcare, from having someone come to your home to care for your baby to dropping off your baby at a center, group care facility, or babysitter. Interviews, reference checks, site visits, and complaints filed or reviews posted online will all help you find a reputable provider.
When you think you have found a childcare option that will work well for you, try it out first. If someone will be visiting your home to care for your baby, make sure they do so at least two or three times while you stay around so your baby is less insecure and gets to know their new caregiver. If it’s a care facility, visit with your baby the first few times, and then gradually ease away — leave the baby there for an hour at first, then perhaps two hours, a little longer at a time.
Leaving for the first time is very hard! After weeks or months of constantly caring for your baby, you might feel alarmed, scared, guilty, or even panicky about leaving your baby with people you don’t know well. If you have properly researched and tried out the childcare, however, this worry will at least be eased. If your baby will not stop crying, you may just have to steel yourself and leave for an hour — they’ll settle again and realize that you’ll come back and get them again soon.
Tell the childcare giver everything you can about your baby’s preferences and needs — favorite foods, habits, comfort items, routines, etc. This will help the caregiver care for your baby without too much difficulty wondering what they’re used to and trying not to disrupt their routines, and soothe the baby when they have something they are familiar with to comfort them.
Even after you have found a childcare provider and both you and baby are comfortable with them, check in periodically to make sure there are no issues with adjustment, and that you can still rely on them to provide your baby with top-quality care. If possible, drop by on a lunch break or unannounced to see that your baby is being taken good care of, and a reputable facility shouldn’t have a problem with this. Before you do this, however, remember that you shouldn’t let your baby see you, as they may become upset and it might make leaving again even harder.
No matter what, the transition to childcare will be difficult, but you can at least make it a little easier on yourself, your baby, and your new childcare provider.