Getting Your Child Emotionally Ready For Nursery
Getting Your Child Emotionally Ready For Nursery
Being pregnant is a massive milestone in any parent’s life. As you look towards your maternity leave, there is no further thought in your mind than the day your baby starts nursery. Before you know it, however, your maternity leave will be over, and you’ll be preparing for your baby’s first day at nursery.
But how do you ensure that your child is ready for nursery?
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Having a baby is, naturally, a highly emotional time. You’ll face the tricky combination of feeling delighted about your newborn and the difficulties of sleepless nights and a range of hormones that seem to dictate how you feel each day. As the end of your maternity/paternity leave approaches, you will likely feel further heightened emotions and anxiety about the idea of leaving your baby in the hands of your chosen nursery.
It can’t be overstated that the way you feel is entirely normal. Parents should not feel embarrassed by the anxiety which is often felt at this time. You and your family face a significant change, so feeling upset or concerned is a normal part of your situation.
Tackling Separation Anxiety
During the first 9-12 month of your child’s life, you have probably been their primary carer and, therefore, the person with whom they feel the strongest attachment. Early attachment in babies can happen anywhere from 6 months to 3 years and is a normal part of their development. Your baby may cry when you leave the room or feel very upset when held by people other than you.
When children experience separation anxiety, parents can find it hard to leave their child at a nursery. there are some steps that you can take to support your child during their first separation from you and when they start at the nursery:
- Try short separations from your child initially (this could be with extended family members).
- Leave a comforter with your child, i.e. a dummy, teddy bear, or a blanket.
- Make saying goodbye a positive experience by smiling and waving (babies can often pick up negative emotions such as tension or anxiety).
Ratios – Moving From 1:1 To 1:3
When at home, you will often be able to give your baby 1:1 time, or you may have to share this time with their siblings.
Nursery environments, however, are very different to those at home. With ratios to adhere to, our lowest ratio for the youngest children is 1:3, meaning that it is not always possible for children to have a similar 1:1 relationship that they are used to at home. For most babies, this poses no problem as they show curiosity in exploring their new environment. For some children who have only been with their primary carer, though, they may feel unsettled at first.
As a parent writing this blog, I know from personal experience that maintaining my little boy’s sleeping arrangements at his nursery was vital to the transition from home to nursery life. Whilst our nursery teams will support existing sleep routines, you should be prepared for some adaptations to ensure that sleeping works at both home and the nursery.
When children are at home, they tend to sleep alone in an uninterrupted space. They may even sleep on you. When they start at nursery, though, this can be one of those tasks that takes a little while to fine-tune. When at nursery, children are often sleeping in a shared space with other children, which can be a big adjustment for some children as they learn to adapt to their new surroundings.
For health and safety and ratio reasons, children will sleep in a coat or mat-bed (age-dependent) to sleep. For children who do not sleep well in their cot or bed at home, this can be another change that they will need to adapt to when at nursery. We encourage parents to prepare their children for this by starting at home first to make the transition easier to manage at the nursery.
Using Comforters To Settle Your Child
Comforters provide children with the security they need to feel safe and relaxed. A comforter can be particularly important for children when transitioning into a new environment, such as a nursery. At our nurseries, we support the need for comforters, but it can be helpful to know more about the types of comforters you might consider:
Dummies are a typical comforter used to reassure and settle children. Contrary to what you may have heard about dummies, there is no evidence to suggest that they are detrimental to children’s development (that is until their teeth start to come through).
You may find it helpful to read our blog about dummies: “Should I Give My Child A Dummy?“
As children start to gain teeth and use language to communicate, we encourage them to have their dummies at sleep time only. If your child is over the age of one and has a dummy on demand, this may be something you want to consider working on at home.
If your child has a favourite blanket or cuddly toy that they cannot sleep without, please ensure that you provide this to the nursery for them. You may wish to purchase an additional blanket/cuddly toy that can remain at the nursery permanently. The last thing you would want to realise is that the blanket/cuddly toy has been left at the nursery when your child needs it at home!
Breastfeeding your child is encouraged and supported by health professionals during your child’s earliest years. It is a popular choice for many parents to breastfeed their child. Here at Tommies Childcare, we support any parent’s choice to breastfeed their child and welcome parents to provide breastmilk when required for their child to have at the nursery.
However, children will need to take their milk from a bottle when at nursery. If your child is not used to having a bottle, this can be a strange experience for children if used to having their milk from the breast only. We encourage parents to try bottle feeding (whether breastmilk or formula milk) their baby before them starting at nursery to ensure that we can manage the transition smoothly.
As part of the Tommies Guarantee, we offer parents unlimited settling-in sessions. Settling-in sessions provide parents and children with as much time as needed to feel comfortable in the nursery environment.
Parents must allow their child enough time to allow their child to settle into nursery life. Some children find this more straightforward than others, with some children settling almost instantly and others needed 1-2 weeks.
At Tommies, we aim to work in partnership with parents to ensure that the transition from the home to the nursery is as seamless as possible. Keeping communication open and frequent with parents and their child’s Key Worker is a critical part of us getting it right, so please feel comfortable sharing any information needed to support your child during their first few weeks at their new nursery.
If you found this blog helpful, you may also gain some insights from our blog about settling in at nursery: