Tips to Face the First Day of Daycare

The first day of daycare represents a challenge for parents and, above all, children. Don't miss these tips to make this new stage easier.
Tips to Face the First Day of Daycare
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Written by Naí Botello

Last update: 27 December, 2022

The first day of daycare can be one of the hardest days of the whole year. This new stage represents the first separation between parent and child. Both can feel sad, worried, and for some kids, abandoned.

Before that first day arrives, it’s important to know the possible reactions your child might have. That way, you can act accordingly, taking into account his or her age and personality. 

It’s common for parents to feel anxious and nervous on their children’s first day of daycare. In fact, parents often feel more nervous than children when they first stand at the doors to the nursery.

You should know that separation anxiety only lasts one or two hours maximum for children. However, if the child and parents have a very close relationship, uncomfortable situations can last for a while. The child may even be reluctant to go to daycare.

Attachment between parents and children

Before we can give you advice on the first day of daycare, it’s necessary to start talking about the attachment between parents and children. If you don’t understand this bond, it’ll be hard to control yourself and help transition your child and yourself into this new stage.

Separation anxiety can make children cry, fight and have a tantrum when they need to separate from their parents. This happens because they don’t have the independence and confidence to keep calm without their presence or with other adults and caregivers.

Tips to Face the First Day of Daycare

Therefore, you need to start preparing your child for daycare in advance. Of course, you need to take his or her age into account.

If your baby is able to crawl, it’s good to let him move around freely in an established area. Then, he can start to feel autonomy and self-confidence.

If your child can speak and understand some conversation, it’s important to tell him about how important daycare is so he can learn and make new friends. In this way, your child will feel more comfortable and even excited to attend.

“Separation anxiety can make children cry, fight and have a tantrum when they need to separate from their parents.”

Tips to face the first day of daycare

Once it’s established that your child must go to daycare, you need to start paving the way for the first day of classes. However, keep in mind that it all depends on how old your child is:

For children up to three years old

At these ages, children can adapt more easily. This is because they don’t really understand the situation very well. However, at least one or two months before the first day, parents must develop a secure attachment with their children. 

To do this, you can do the following things:

  • Allow other adults to carry or play with them. Also, take them to their grandparents’ or relatives’ house for a few hours. That way, they can understand what momentary separation is.
  • Say goodbye before leaving. This way, they’ll associate the gesture with temporary separations.
  • Do the same routines to wake up and eat that your child will follow at the nursery.
Tips to Face the First Day of Daycare

For children ages four and up

When children can already talk and understand a conversation, it’s crucial that parents take several times a day to talk about daycare. Also, show them pictures and take them there a few times so they start to feel familiar with the place.

On the other hand, you can also teach your child everything he should take to the nursery, like a change of clothes, snacks, crayons or toys. Additionally, you need to get him used to his new schedules to wake up, bathe and eat. As a result, he’ll also learn about daily routines and responsibilities.

As a final recommendation, remember that the most difficult moment of that first day of school will be saying goodbye. It’s very important that you don’t run away or sneak off. You need to say goodbye to your child with a kiss goodbye. 

Also, explain that you’ll be back to get him at the time you promised.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Clarke-Stewart, A. (1984). Guarderías y cuidado infantil (Vol. 15). Ediciones Morata.
  • De la Torre Naranjo, D. K. (2011). Guardería para niños de 6 meses hasta 4 años de edad, enfocada al desarrollo creativo e innato de cada niño (Bachelor’s thesis, Quito: Universidad de las Américas, 2011).

The contents of You Are Mom is for educational and informational purposes only. At no time do they replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. If in doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.