There doesn’t seem to be much advice around for parents on their baby’s first day at nursery, and yet we know from our own experiences that this can be a worry for some people. So here are our top tips for those preparing for their little one’s first day.
Tips on helping your baby to settle
- At your first showround, try to look round the nursery with your baby. Although a baby-less visit might be easier to arrange, there is no substitute for seeing first hand how the staff will interact with your little one and it will help to familiarise your baby with the nursery.
- Arrange for pre-start visits. These might be referred to as “Trials” or “Stay-and-Plays.” If your baby is unused to the nursery environment, these visits will reassure you both.
- Use these “Stay-and-Plays” as a way of communicating your baby’s routine to the staff. The staff should gather information such as nap-times and bottle feeds at this point.
- On the first proper nursery day, show your baby how excited you are about their chance to have this experience. Try not to show your own anxiety. It’s stressful (for you!) when you leave your baby at nursery for the first few times, but put your happy face on if you can. Your baby will settle better if they know that you are comfortable with the situation.
- Bring with you any comfort items from home that your child is used to having around, such as a favourite toy or cuddle blanket.
- When you arrive, have a little chat with your child’s key person or room leader but try not to draw out the hand-over process.
- If your child should be distressed, tell them very clearly that you will be back later to pick them up. This is the most important lesson that your baby will learn – that you will always, always come back.
- And if your baby settles to playing straight away, try not to be offended! A nursery is a new and exciting place, and many children thrive here from the beginning. It doesn’t mean that they don’t love you or miss you – it means that you are a fantastic parent who’s raising a confident little person!
- Call the nursery after an hour or so, to check how your baby has settled. Ask them to call you if they are concerned at all.
A few extra tips for parents
- If you need to have a little weep, remember that the manager’s office is usually well-stocked with tissues. You won’t be the first or last parent to find the first day at nursery difficult, even if your baby loves it!
- Plan to have something to do after your first drop-off: if you aren’t going straight to work, then perhaps arrange to meet a friend for a coffee, or head to the gym.
- At pick up time, appreciate that your baby may be experiencing a range of emotions when he or she sees you, from excitement through to tiredness. Young children may express this with tears, as they won’t have the language to communicate all their feelings – don’t assume that this means they’ve been upset all day. Trust what the staff are telling you.
- Don’t be worried about keeping in close contact with the nursery over the first few weeks. This is a period of change for both you and your baby, and any good nursery will do their best to help you with the transition. Remember that the staff are very experienced in helping new babies to settle, and your little one is in good hands.