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Our infant, with whom we practice AP, will have to go to daycare soon. He does not sleep alone during the day and needs to be rocked to sleep. Will daycare greatly affect him, and what can we do to make this transition smoother?

You know your son best and probably have the best sense of how a daycare situation will affect him. No two children's situations are the same, and each responds differently to new arrangements. Consistency of care is a significant issue for young babies. Babies can make attachments to caregivers in addition to their parents, but frequent changes in caregivers can keep a child from developing these attachments. You should inquire about the turnover rate for caregivers with the daycare facility. If the facility has multiple caregivers for your baby's group, you might request that one of the staff be designated as his primary caregiver. If you find that the turnover rate for caregivers is high, you might wish to look into another facility.

To smooth the transition to a daycare, many parents spend time introducing the baby to his new caregivers, while still with the parents. A gradual transition can ease the process. You could go to the daycare with your child for a portion of the day the first few days and gradually work up to the full-time daycare hours that you plan. During these introductory meetings, you can also share with your baby's caregivers some of the parenting methods that you are using (such as rocking, singing, and carrying) and ask that they try some of these as well. However, babies can develop different routines with different caregivers. Your baby may surprise you by learning to sleep in a bed on his own when in a daycare.

Babies have an intense need for their mother's presence. Using Attachment Parenting nurturing methods when you are together will continue to build your baby's attachment to you. Many babies respond to regular separations by sleeping more when you are apart and wanting to spend time with you (such as playing, breastfeeding, and touching) when you are together. Being present with your baby, holding, feeding with love, and cuddling all help you and your baby reconnect after time apart.

Many parents find the first separations very difficult. However, if the transition and caregiver situation works well, the family will adjust to the new routine within a reasonable amount of time. During the transition you can observe your child's behavior when you leave and when you are reunited. Unusual crying or clinginess and other changes in his behavior may be signs that he is very stressed by the childcare situation. Babies communicate their needs and feelings in many ways. Being responsive to your baby's needs and emotions and making adjustments if necessary will reinforce his trust in you. Your attention to your baby's emotional needs now will help build the strong lifelong attachment that will help your child develop secure and enduring relationships with others.

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