Getting ready for daycare

You will soon be dropping your baby off at daycare for the first time and are reluctant to leave your little one in a stranger’s hands? Here are a few tips for you.

You may also not want to go back to work or, to the contrary, can’t wait to get back on the job and thus think it makes you a bad mother.

In any case, you feel guilty. Don’t worry, your baby is in good hands. If he feels that you’re relaxed and peaceful, he will adapt easily. To find this inner peace, you need to identify what’s causing you this guilt.


It often comes from a feeling of anger, an anger linked to frustration, anxiety and the inability to controlyour life. An anger against a society that imposes its standards ("A mother must care for her children"). To find solace, identify the causes of this anger and express it. Explain to your child that you are sad to leave him, but that it's your choice, or, conversely, that you have no choice! You can tell him that you are happy to see your colleagues, and then be reunited with him at the end of the day. He won’t understand the words, but he will feel your inner calm. Even if he’s not old enough to be socialized, your child will be safe at daycare. He will be in caring, professional and 100% available hands, which is not the case at the home.

Be active

To get rid of this feeling of guilt, be active : visit the establishment before enrolling your child, talk to the staff, make sure that your educational criteria are respected, etc.

All daycares offer an adaptation period: one hour on the first day, then two, etc. In the beginning, stay with your baby to show him that you trust the educators, which will make him feel safe when you leave. You could also leave him a piece of clothing that you have worn... Your smell will reassure him and help him fall asleep faster when naptime comes.

Don’t be afraid of traumatising your baby by crying on the big day. Tears relieve the stress and sadness that he had already seen in you anyway. For the same reason, don’t worry if he cries when you go pick him up. It doesn’t mean he’s unhappy or not well taken care of; he’s just releasing the day’s tensions. If he does it in your presence, it’s only because he feels safe with you.

Mistakes to avoid

1. Not saying anything to your child and « dropping » him at daycare, without any kind of explanation because you think he’s simply too young to understand anyway. It’s very important to put words on every new situation to him (and it doesn’t only apply to starting daycare).

2. Leaving the daycare in a hurry to avoid his cries It’s risky, because to your child, it means that you could disappear at any moment. It can become a source of anxiety that will keep him up at night, because he’ll want to make sure that you’re still there. Say your goodbyes to your baby and tell him that you will be back for him at the end of the day... and accept that he might cry out of disappointment. In most cases, he will calm down as soon as the door closes behind you!

3. Making « false departures », meaning that you come back in after having said your goodbyes. Your child will think that you will always come back or stay behind the door all day!

4. Forbidding the pacifier or security blanket for anything else than naptime, « because that’s the way it is at home ». If these objects help him deal with the separation better and reassure him, all the better.

Martine Jouffroy Valton

Martine studied clinical psychotherapy in 1995, earning a diploma from the Gestalt Intervention Centre of Montreal, followed by five years of practicing therapy in the city. She has accompanied people on the road to death, and has helped families affected by genetic illnesses or AIDS. Today, she works as a coach for a communications and marketing company, helping to recruit international experts for the European Commission in Brussels. She also has a private practice and greatly enjoys one-on-one time with her patients. For more info, email her at or give her a call at +32-485-614-234.

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