QUESTION: I’m returning to work after being home with my baby for 6 months. He is clingy and doesn’t like anyone but me to hold him. What can I do to prepare him for day care?
ANSWER: You can’t change your son’s personality or preferences. It’s in his nature to like being with you.
Getting used to another caregiver during the day will be difficult, but he will get used to it. (The first days will probably be harder on you!) There are some things you can do to ease the discomfort:
Find a consistent caregiver you can trust. You’ll want someone who’s nurturing and experienced with young children—the same person caring for him most of the time will make the transition so much easier. Find a group center with the same teacher every day or a family provider with not too many children.
Ease him into the situation as slowly as possible. Start by visiting the place a few times while he stays close to you. Don’t expect him to leave your hip the first few times, but gradually put him down and stay close. Little by little, allow the caregiver to interact with him.
Eventually, you’ll have to leave him for a short time. Prepare for him to cry (you might, too). He will get used to the environment and another caregiver sooner or later, and he’ll even start enjoying the other people around him. Do give him time to get used to this new experience and love him extra much when you’re together.
Jeanne Labana is a PCI certified parent coach and has been a Milwaukee educator for over 25 years. With four grown children and eight grandchildren, she’s experienced it all.
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