Getting Your Baby Ready for Nursery
Getting Your Baby Ready for Nursery
We understand the fear, anxiety and dread that can come as you end your maternity leave and face the difficult decision of choosing a nursery for your baby. It seems you were leaving the hospital with them only moments ago, ready to embrace the 9 months ahead of you.
Across our nurseries, we have babies who age from 3 months. With the growing demand for places in younger age groups, we feel it’s essential to provide some inside information about what you can do at home to support your baby’s transition to life at nursery.
The following areas often pose the most challenge for our youngest children. They can often be the difference in children settling in at nursery quicker and adjusting to their new environments faster.
Allowing Time for Them to Settle
It’s vital that you allow enough time for you and your baby to settle in at nursery. It may be the first time they have separated from you, which can be daunting for you and your baby. Your Nursery Manager will advise on the number of “settling-in” sessions you should take. However, we generally recommend a minimum of 2-3 weeks for settling-in sessions before your baby starts nursery regularly.
When you take this approach, you allow your baby time to get to know their new environment and build relationships with those caring for them and their peers. Settling-in sessions involve time spent with your child and time spent away to assess how well your child copes. If babies struggle to settle, then further sessions may be needed.
Did you know: Our Tommies Guarantee enables parents to have unlimited settling-in sessions to ensure you and your child are comfortable?
For those parents choosing to breastfeed their babies, there are several preparations you may wish to consider in supporting your child’s transition to nursery.
Time spent on the breast offers the opportunity to feed and comfort your baby. Breastfeeding can bring some children as much comfort as a dummy or blanket. But you won’t be there to breastfeed them when they embark on their nursery journey. Babies will still need milk at the nursery, of course, and while we can store breast milk, it will be given in a bottle.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to ensure your baby has had the opportunity to feed from a bottle so that this does not seem strange or distressing when fed this way at nursery.
Most babies will have a comforter of some kind. It may be a dummy, a teddy, or a blanket. It may be worth purchasing additional comforters to leave one permanently at the nursery for them. This also saves you from forgetting to collect comforters and facing bedtime without your baby’s favourite item.
Depending on the nursery you choose, your baby may or may not have access to a sleep room. It’s essential to prepare your child for the environment for sleep when at nursery. Sleep for our youngest children is as vital as food, and when babies can’t sleep, it can cause them to become overtired and very upset. This also creates problems for parents as an overtired baby can impact your routines and bedtimes at home.
In the main, babies at the nursery will sleep in either a cot or a mat bed on the floor (a discussion will be had with you to decide what would be best). Children will often be in a room with other children, and while we do have binds, the room may not mimic the darkness they are used to at home. There will also be fewer opportunities for children to be rocked and held while sleeping, as there are other children to care for. Therefore, ensuring that your child has been exposed to some of the things they will experience at nursery will help to support them.
When you bring your baby home, you want to spend hours holding them, looking at them and embracing the journey of parenting you have embarked upon. While we wouldn’t advocate that this is something you should avoid, you should consider how long you plan to be off with your baby and how soon they need to start at nursery.
While we work hard with parents to continue routines embedded at home, a nursery is a very different environment shared with other children and multiple staff. For those children who have been used to a level of age-appropriate independence, the transition happens with ease.
However, the transition to nursery can be challenging for a baby who has spent most of their time being held by a parent either in their arms or in a sling. Of course, there will be times when the baby is picked up, hugged, and comforted; however, this has to be shared across several babies, so your baby must be used to having time on the floor to explore the environment around them.