The day has finally come. Your little one is off to nursery. It’s a new and exciting phase and one that will bring many rewards. Of course, starting nursery can also be challenging and it’s perfectly normal for your tot to experience fear, upset and anxiety during those first few weeks. Fortunately there are a few things you can do to help munchkin stay as calm and confident as possible. We sat down with Chantal Ariens, Director of Growth at Blossom Children’s Nursery to get her top tips on how to settle your toddler into nursery. Here’s what she had to say.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #1: Maintain their schedule
Ask the nursery to stick to your child’s usual patterns of eating, sleeping and playing through the day. Those first few weeks at nursery can be very overwhelming and maintaining that routine will give your child the peace of mind they need to be able to deal with what’s happening around them. They can then gradually be moved onto the nursery’s routine, but only once they’re familiar with their surroundings.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #2: Bring a comfort toy
Children have an amazing sense of smell, so to give your little one a bit of comfort bring a familiar toy or blanket that has your smell on it. If you’re still breastfeeding, a little bit of breast milk on their blanket works wonders. My top tip would be to buy five of exactly the same toy or blanket. That way, if something gets lost, you have a replacement. Also, make sure you rotate them, so you don’t end up with one used comfort toy and four brand new ones.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #3: Be positive about nursery
Talk to your child in a happy voice about what they are going to do at nursery and how much fun they are going to have. Also, try to be specific about when you are coming to pick them up. In the early days little ones tend to be very upset when their mummies leave, so putting a time frame on it, such as ‘I will be back after lunch’, helps reassure them that this isn’t forever and that you are coming back for them.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #4: Do a trial
Even us adults get shy around new people and places, so imagine how daunting it is for a toddler going into a new nursery for the first time. At Blossom we offer a two-hour free trial, which is a chance for mum and baby to see if they like the place.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #5: Give yourself reassurance
If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your child alone at nursery ask the staff if you can wait in the reception area. Bring a book and a coffee and watch the CCTV every now and then to give yourself a bit of reassurance. At Blossom we have an open-door policy and parents are welcome anytime of the day.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #6: Keep smiling
The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child will be. If you arrive at the nursery panicked and stressed out your little one will pick up on those anxieties.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #7: Ensure your child has a key worker
This is one dedicated person who knows your child and is familiar with their likes and dislikes, routine, and how to soothe them if they get upset. All the staff should be familiar with these things, but the key worker is the go-to person who bonds with them and is there to greet them each morning.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #8: Build up nursery timings
Don’t leave your child too long for the first few days. We recommend one hour on day one, two hours on day two, gradually working up from there. It’s worth noting that in the beginning children are often exhausted after an hour because they are not used to being surrounded by so many big and little people.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #9: Familiar words
If your child’s first language isn’t English, write down the 10 or 20 words you use most frequently when communicating with them and then the nursery staff can use those words to help calm them if they get upset.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #10: Brief the staff
It’s really important to talk to the staff about your child’s rituals. Explain their likes and dislikes, how they like to be dealt with, eating preference, favourite song and favourite way of comforting.
Ways to settle your toddler into nursery #11: Plenty of sleep
Children who sleep well are happier and more confident. I recommend 12 hours sleep a night, as this enables them to wake up the next day feeling happy, rested and ready to face the day.
For more details visit Blossom Children’s Nurseryy or call 055 NURSERY.
Chantal Ariens is the Director of Growth of Blossom Children’s Nursery and Centre Director of Blossom Burj. She has been with Blossom for almost six years and knows her centre inside out. To get in touch, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org