What's the best way to switch childcare providers?
Finding childcare for your baby is hard enough the first time around, but if you have to change her childcare situation, whether it’s because of a move, concerns about her care in her current set-up, or for any other reason, it can bring a new set of challenges right on top of the first ones. On the other hand, your baby could transition so easily to her new caregiver that you forget she hasn’t been there the whole time. It can be hard to tell how your baby will respond to a new situation, but there are steps that you can take to ease the transition, whether your baby takes to the new place like a duck to water or she needs to learn to swim all over again.
- Give warning
If you’re moving, your baby probably already has an idea that there are some big changes coming, but if you’re switching childcare providers for any other reason, the change can take her by surprise. While it might feel easier at the time to avoid the chance of making her upset before you need to, it probably won’t help your baby’s transition to keep her from getting the closure of saying goodbye to a place or to people she has probably spent a significant amount of time with. Since your baby is pretty young, and is still developing her sense of time, too much warning may not be helpful, but starting to talk to your baby about the change at least a few days ahead of time can give your baby a little time to adjust, and even time to start to get excited about the new provider. If you wait until not long before the transition to talk to your baby about switching childcare providers, don’t forget to let your current provider know that you’re waiting to talk to your baby about it, so that he or she doesn’t tell your baby before you get the chance to by accident. Reading your baby books and telling her stories about characters facing big changes in their lives can also help give your baby a frame for how to think about the shift, especially if she is closer to a year old.
- Dress rehearsal
Before bringing your baby to the new place for real, it can help to bring her with you on a tour of the new place a few days before she starts there, so that she won’t be completely unfamiliar with the area, or with the provider, before her big first day.
- Mark the occasion
On your baby’s last day with her old provider, consider doing something to make the day feel a little special, like sharing her favorite snack with her provider and any classmates or friends she might have there, and walking her through the space to say goodbye to the places and people who have been such a big part of her life for so long.
- Be there
On your baby’s first day, if you can, arrange your day so that you can stay there with her for a little while as she gets used to the new environment. With you there to help her feel secure, she may be more ready to explore, to be social, and by doing so, to find things she likes about the new location.
- Send your baby in prepared
If your baby has a lovey or comfort object, its presence can help her feel comfortable in the new place. In the same vein, if she has a favorite toy or object associated with her old daycare or provider, and you’re in a position where you feel comfortable asking the provider if your baby can take it with her if you get the center or provider a replacement, having a piece of her old routine with her could help your baby adjust.
- Brace yourself
Even if your baby is a basically happy, secure, social child who has never had a problem with childcare before, there may be an adjustment period as she gets used to the new center or provider. If your baby has not started to settle more comfortably into a routine after around a week or two, consider talking to your provider about any problems with the way your baby and the center are fitting, or ways to improve the transition.
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