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Preparing your child (and yourself!) for starting childcare

When it comes to starting childcare, if you take some time to prepare children before they begin, they will find the change in routine easier to manage. Depending on their age, there are a few simple but important things you can do.


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Preparing a baby for starting childcare

Decide well ahead of time how you plan to feed your baby and settle them into feeding routines before they start in child care. This could be expressing milk, visiting the centre to breastfeed, formula feeding, or weaning them off milk. Babies may not like the feel of the plastic teat, as it is different from the breast. Allow time for this change to occur and settle.

Ensure your baby can sit and play (if old enough to sit) for 5-15 minutes with toys around them, rather than always be carried or played with by you. It is important to practice this at home and help them learn they can engage with toys without your presence.

Teach your baby to settle to sleep without being rocked and held or breastfed to sleep.


Preparing a toddler for childcare

Ensure toddlers can walk steadily during play so they can confidently be active with other children without falling over and being upset. This takes practice like any other skill so let them run and play at home to refine this skill and build their confidence.

Encourage your little one to learn some simple first words so they can communicate with educators. Key words like ‘drink’, ‘food’, ‘sleep’, ‘bed’, ‘nappy’, ‘cuddle’, and so on. This also applies if your child speaks a language other than English. Educators at Out & About Care & Education like to learn these simple words. It helps to offer comfort to your child in the new setting in a language they are familiar with.

Starting your toddler off with self-feeding using finger foods or spoons also helps them manage their day. Educators will still help them with spoons, but children feel more confident if they can manage these things on their own to some degree.

Have toddlers practice wearing hats when outdoors. They will certainly have to do so when in care as part of the sun-safe program.

Encourage your child to have their own cup with a secure lid and have them always use it, even at home, when they are thirsty. Children will use this in care too, so it is another skill they can already manage. This boosts their confidence.

Toddler Running in Garden

Toddler running in the garden

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If your child is three years or older

Children who are three years or older are often already wonderful at playing with others. However, they will still need some assistance. Playing with other young children in playgroup settings can help them enormously, which is beneficial when starting child care.

Children in this age group should already be fully toilet trained before starting childcare. This is expected in any Kindy age setting. Accidents still happen, but at this age, the care ratio in each room shifts. There is one adult to 11 children, therefore it becomes a bigger safety issue to manage daily toilet mishaps.

Turn-taking, sharing and being part of the group are challenging for young children, so it is important to help them acquire some of these skills before starting childcare. They will need these skills throughout their formal schooling too. The more natural they are, the easier it is for children to manage their day positively. Three-year-olds often need gentle reminders when playing with others so they learn to manage social situations.

Children who are three or older can walk in and out of care, carry their own bags and put them away, taking their water bottles to the correct place and putting their hats away. These are organisational skills they need to manage their day well, and to feel confident and capable. They know where to go for their belongings and where they should be put. Taking responsibility for their own belongings is an important element in confidence and resilience building.

You want your children to blossom into lovely human beings who manage their days well and achieve success. As parents, you can help them start this process by preparing them for the challenges of being away from you for extended periods of time. This shows them you have confidence in their ability to navigate their way through each day with skill.

For more information about Out & About Care & Education, visit the website or call 07 5413 8099.


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