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Starting Daycare: Tips and Tricks

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Because the day may soon approach for your child to start daycare, we compiled our best tips for starting daycare to prepare both you and your child! Lucky for you, though, for most kiddos, it’s a breeze and is actually harder on you, the parent.

We’re here to offer a bit of advice and some tips for helping your family prepare for the transition to daycare.

Do your research.

Before you decide where your child is going to start daycare, do your diligence – visit a few facilities, meet with the directors, and maybe even attempt to meet the staff who would be caring for your child. And don’t feel like asking to meet is being pushy – this is YOUR CHILD we’re talking about.

Those who work in childcare know that this is your baby, the most precious thing in your life, and it is normal to interview, ask questions, and learn all you can before deciding to put your child in their care.

Different states have different rules and regulations for childcare facilities, so make sure you look into this for your state. You might find some helpful information that will narrow down your search based on ratings, scores, or reviews.

When you do meet with someone, make sure you have a list of questions that are important to you when it comes to caring for your child.


  • What are the hours the daycare center is open?

  • Will I be charged extra if I drop off early or pick up late?

  • Is there a maximum or a minimum number of days my child can come or must attend per week?

  • What is your philosophy when it comes to caring for children?

  • What is your company’s mission?

  • What does a day look like in the room where my child would be? Is there a schedule?

  • How many children are in the room my child would be in? How many adults work in the room my child would be in?

  • How does the daycare center communicate with parents?

  • Are formula, snacks, or meals provided? Can I send in the preferred formula, snacks, meals, etc.?

  • Am I able to come in and nurse my baby during my lunch break? Is there an area for me to do that? How will breastmilk be stored?

  • How are naps handled? Can I send in a sleep sack? Can I send in a portable white noise machine? Can my toddler have their lovey with them for nap time?

  • Are the children taken outside at all? Is there a certain age this starts? Do you use sunscreen?

  • What type of programming do you offer for different ages? Is a curriculum used at all?

After you’ve heard the answers and met some of the staff at a few different facilities, it’s time to make your decision. We’d strongly recommend following your maternal instincts. If something felt off in any way, do not send your child there. If you got a really positive vibe or really connected with one of the caregivers, that option might be a strong contender.

Also, depending on how they answered some of the {sleep} questions, double-check with the rules/laws of your state. If they said “no white noise machines allowed” but there’s nothing per your state that says otherwise, you can challenge and advocate what you think is most beneficial for your child. Always ask to speak to the director! You may even be able to get a doctor’s note for appropriate accomodations.

Prepping for the first day.

Starting daycare may feel like prepping for the Olympics 🥴

You’ll want to make sure you have everything you *think* your baby might need at daycare packed in the diaper bag…plus a few extras! Babies get messy. Most daycares will have a list of items for you to send in but obviously plan for feeding, diapering, and sleep. Some places will provide diapers and wipes so ask in advance if there is a list for you to refer to.

We’d also recommend giving a quick reference sheet for your child – after all, you know your child best. You have to remember that your child isn’t the only child in the room anymore, so the easier you can make it for them, the better. A reference sheet with quick tips can be helpful!

For example, you can include information like, “usually naps around 9:30-11 and 2:30-4, loves to be held on her side, hates tummy time, burps after about 2 minutes, paced bottle feeding please, I’ll be in to nurse around 11:00 every day, etc.”

If your baby follows awake windows, make sure you give them timed ranges of when naps might occur – it’s easier to do this than to expect them to track the time…remember, they likely have other babies or children they’re caring for as well.

You can also give these tips verbally from day to day and as needed, but having them written out will be super helpful.

For an older child, roleplaying is a powerful tool to help prepare your child to start anything new, daycare included. Practice using their backpack, and going to sleep on a cot. Pretend and practice dropping your child off, saying goodbye, and maybe even come up with a fun little ritual for saying goodbye and hello at daycare! Visual cues such as charts or social stories can be incredibly helpful too. Write a story (bonus if you can include real photos of your child) that you can outline a run-through of their day, beginning with getting up and getting ready for daycare, then going to daycare and all the fun they will have there, and finally, getting picked up by mommy or daddy from daycare and going home.

Starting daycare tips.

Now that your baby is officially starting daycare, it’s time to let go of some control. We know, this is easier said than done. This is just your gentle reminder that this is part of growing up, something that inevitably happens with all children! You have done your research and made your decision. You’ve prepared your child as best you can. It’s time to trust that your child will be just fine.

If you’re needing to drop your child off fairly early in the morning, there’s a good chance you might have to wake them up in the morning. No one really likes being woken up, so make sure you do it gently. Try to make some environmental noise and maybe crack the door to the nursery open so it’s not so abrupt. Open the window shades and let the sun shine in. Get your child ready and head out the door!

It’s vital to communicate with your child’s caregiver. Just as you would want to know how their day went so you know what to do next, your caregiver will want to know these things as well. For example, if you drop your child off and they slept in the car on the way there, make sure you tell them that your little one just woke up from a 15-minute car nap…then they can plan on starting with a feed or whatever is next.

If your baby just had vaccines, make sure you communicate this as well! They’d probably like to know in advance if your little one is going to need some extra cuddles or snuggles that day.

There is no such thing as overcommunication when it comes to your child.

Make sure to ask for a daily report too! It’s important to know how much your baby ate and when, how much your baby slept and when, etc. so that you can pick up right where they left off when you take your baby home at the end of each day. If naps were crappy that day (and trust me, they might be until your baby gets into a rhythm and routine at daycare), you know to offer an early bedtime. If your baby ate more than usual that day, you might expect that they won’t be as hungry that evening.

Starting daycare doesn’t have to be scary!

It truly takes a village to raise a child, doesn’t it?! Let your daycare be part of your village. And, come be part of our village! In our paid monthly membership, you can get your sleep questions answered the same day by a certified sleep consultant. Check it out here.


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