What’s the best way to switch childcare providers?

Finding childcare for Baby is hard enough the first time around, but if you have to change his childcare situation, whether it’s because of a move, concerns about his care in his 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, Baby could transition so easily to his new caregiver that you forget he hasn’t been there the whole time. It can be hard to tell how Baby will respond to a new situation, but there are steps that you can take to ease the transition, whether Baby takes to the new place like a duck to water or he needs to learn to swim all over again.

  1. Give warning
    If you’re moving, 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 him by surprise. While it might feel easier at the time to avoid the chance of making him upset before you need to, it probably won’t help Baby’s transition to keep him from getting the closure of saying goodbye to a place or to people he has probably spent a significant amount of time with. Since Baby is pretty young, and is still developing his sense of time, too much warning may not be helpful, but starting to talk to Baby about the change at least a few days ahead of time can give 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 Baby about switching childcare providers, don’t forget to let your current provider know that you’re waiting to talk to Baby about it, so that he or she doesn’t tell Baby before you get the chance to by accident. Reading Baby books and telling him stories about characters facing big changes in their lives can also help give Baby a frame for how to think about the shift, especially if he is closer to a year old.
  2. Dress rehearsal
    Before bringing Baby to the new place for real, it can help to bring him with you on a tour of the new place a few days before he starts there, so that he won’t be completely unfamiliar with the area, or with the provider, before his big first day.
  3. Mark the occasion
    On Baby’s last day with his old provider, consider doing something to make the day feel a little special, like sharing his favorite snack with his provider and any classmates or friends he might have there, and walking him through the space to say goodbye to the places and people who have been such a big part of his life for so long.
  4. Be there
    On Baby’s first day, if you can, arrange your day so that you can stay there with him for a little while as he gets used to the new environment. With you there to help him feel secure, he may be more ready to explore, to be social, and by doing so, to find things he likes about the new location.
  5. Send Baby in prepared
    If Baby has a lovey or comfort object, its presence can help him feel comfortable in the new place. In the same vein, if he has a favorite toy or object associated with his old daycare or provider, and you’re in a position where you feel comfortable asking the provider if Baby can take it with him if you get the center or provider a replacement, having a piece of his old routine with him could help Baby adjust.
  6. Brace yourself
    Even if Baby is a basically happy, secure, social child who has never had a problem with childcare before, there may be an adjustment period as he gets used to the new center or provider. If 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 Baby and the center are fitting, or ways to improve the transition.

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