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Baby’s First Days (and Months) in Daycare

Baby’s First Days (and Months) in Daycare

It’s been three months since Owen started daycare and I feel like we are finally establishing a routine (you may remember my post from February where I was a wreck after my first month). This realization came earlier this week when we arrived at the center and the little guy had a massive diaper blow out. Making it worse was the fact that he had only one pair of “too small for him” pajamas in his extra clothes bag. Two months ago and this incident would have ruined my whole morning and added a couple more gray hairs.

His infant teacher came to the rescue – once again – shuffling through the extra clothes bag and finding something for him to wear. I didn’t even know about this secret stash!

I have to admit that this is just one of many things that I’ve had to figure out about having an infant at child care. Olivia started Bright Horizons when she was 2.

Owen’s teachers have been great about helping me logistically get up to speed but emotionally I wished someone was there to guide me along. So I thought I would pay it forward for those of you who may be finding yourself in this predicament.

Here are my secrets to surviving baby’s first days and months in daycare:

  • Calculate the amount of time you need to get ready and get to work on time…then add an extra 30-minutes. Allowing time to deal with things like diaper blow-outs and other unexpected events makes for a less frantic morning. You can always use the extra time for a few minutes of play time with your baby.
  • Prepare as much as you can the night before – bottles, diapers, extra clothes, etc. – and pack them in the car (when appropriate). I even do my hair at night and wear a shower cap (who cares if I look like an 80-year-old woman?!?) to give myself an extra 15 minutes of sleep.
  • Spend time getting to know your baby’s teachers. This is the best advice I can give you. I take full advantage of the Bright Horizons drop-in policy on my work from home days. Spending time with the teachers as they are interacting with the babies eases my mind on those days when I am in the office. And the inevitable chit chat has allowed me to really get to know the teachers and makes me more comfortable asking their advice or sharing my own care instructions with them.
  • Establish a routine but be flexible when it gets blown apart. Honestly, I am still working on this one because Owen continues to wake up at a different time each morning. But we do have a natural order of activities (which is critical for my 5-year-old who has always needed a little more structure to her life) to get us all out the door by 7:30.
  • Whether you have an hour commute like me or a 10-minute drive to work, take advantage of the alone time. Sing in the car or listen to your favorite podcast – do something to detox from the stress of the morning or prepare for the craziness of the evening.
  • Smile even when you don’t feel like it. Inevitably someone will smile back at you (like the nice lady that pours my coffee in the morning) and you will be uplifted (for at least a millisecond but hopefully longer).


I’m still navigating in the dark most days but I’m starting to see a shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I’m sure going to enjoy the sunshine until the next tunnel arrives – transitioning to the toddler program! What advice do you have to share with me and other parents about starting daycare?

More on Infants and Child Care



  1. News Mom April 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I feel your pain! We’ve just moved out of the infant room and into toddlers, and I echo all your advice. I’d just add one thing: When you’re done filling out the daily sheet and unpacking the bottles, food, etc. into the cubby/fridge, eye the teacher to make sure she has free hands to pry your baby away if necessary, give big hugs and kisses, and then leave with a smile and wave no matter how your baby is reacting and how you feel inside. Whether your child is suffering from separation anxiety or not, this is the best thing for you and for them. Lingering in the morning can set up a tough routine that is bound to get you to work late, stress you out, and actually makes things more confusing and difficult for your child. This is admittedly easier said than done, but it’s worth it if you can do it. I flipped my routine so that I allowed myself time to hang out in the infant room with my son at the end of the day, which is when we have more flexibility, and it worked nicely.

  2. lisa April 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Your advice is great! It was a hard adjustment for us too, but he’s been at BH for 4 months now and doing great.

    Like the last poster said, I really enjoy spending a few minutes there when I pick him up to chat with the caretakers and get to know the other kids. Usually, my husband is the one who does drop off and pick up, but I try to do it as much as I can so I feel more comfortable.

  3. Tracy April 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Your advice is spot on as far as packing the night before and getting out the door 30 minutes early (or plan to anyway). It took me a few weeks to figure those out and it has helped tremendously.
    In addition, the transition to the new one is one to look at too. Going from infant to toddler – right in the middle of the LO learning to walk/run, move objects, toss items and the “older” ones in the room who have been doing it for months — hard to get used to. Are the kids a bad influence b/c they climb on chairs or bite? Will my kid take on bad habits. Talking to the teachers & the directors helps to solve those issues. Especially with a 1st time parent 🙂

  4. Amy April 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Great advice from everyone – thanks for weighing in. I definitely need to get better about the “drop off and go.” I got myself into a pickle with Olivia when she was young by lingering too long. And I can’t even put my brain around transitioning to toddlers though there are a handful of children moving up this week at my center so I’m definitely going to take notes.

    I just posted on the community about this post so others can benefit from everyone’s advice (and also weigh in there!).

  5. how to run a home daycare August 24, 2012 at 12:23 am

    I loved your suggestions! So many of my daycare clients need this advice when they start bringing their babies to daycare. Thanks for being so frank and sharing.

  6. diana October 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    im taking my toddler to daycare for the first time next week and I am kind of nervous because either her dad or i would be taking care of her but now we are both working any advise on how to handle the first day of day care for a toddler who is so used to her parents?

  7. Amy October 27, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Hi Diana! Starting a toddler child care program comes with its own unique challenges. Bright Horizons as some good resources on this topic in our e-family news room. Here are a few to check out: Transitioning into Toddlers ( and How to Adjust to Child Care as a Parent ( Like I wrote in this article, the best thing you can do is getting to know the teachers and always voicing your concerns or asking questions – build a partnership. And good luck – I’ll be thinking of you.

  8. Tara Tompson October 15, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    I have to put my little boy in daycare. I’m going back to work part time next month. I would love to get him used to it before I go though. Thanks for all the great information!

  9. Nurseries Gloucester July 6, 2015 at 6:56 am

    The perfect tips you have given. I am passing from the same situations.:)


  10. Stacy Fugerson January 7, 2016 at 6:28 am

    Sending your baby to daycare can be really scary. However, there are so many good workers out there that can take good care of your kids. I think that day cares are especially useful for working moms. They help allow your kids to learn and grow while you are at work.

  11. Jessie Harrison March 10, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    My baby has always been good with letting others watch him. I, on the other hand, am not very good at leaving him with someone else. He is constantly on my mind and I don’t know how to separate from him. However, I can’t exactly take him to work, so I need other arrangements. I need what you have a routine, to take him to daycare in the morning and pick him up in the afternoon.

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