The First-Time Parent's Guide to the Start of Infant Daycare

How should you prepare for your baby's first daycare experience? Unlike a toddler or preschooler, your infant won't understand the change in scenery. Instead of focusing on how to help your child cope with their new care environment, turn your attention to the logistics and self-care aspects of this major transition.

Organize Everything Before the First Day

Make the first day easier with a completely organized stash of baby-care items. Start with the child care center's list of must-haves. These vary by center but typically include diapers, wipes, diaper cream (if needed), bottles/feeding items, breast milk/formula, extra clothing, and anything your child needs for naps.

After you gather everything on your list, organize it by day, use, or another category that makes sense to you. Group like-items into bags and label everything with your child's name. If you've already chosen a week's worth of clothes for your child to wear or take to daycare, stack the items in day order — starting with Monday and ending with Friday.

Plan Your Route

If you're not used to the morning rush, it's possible you could run into unexpected traffic. This could make you late for daycare drop-off and work. Before the first day of care arrives, drive the route to the center at the same time you'll leave for work. This will help you to plan your route, giving you the most time possible on your baby's first day of out-of-home care.

Talk to a Friend

Your baby may not know they're going to daycare — but you do. If you're more stressed about the transition than your child, you need someone to talk to. It's completely normal for parents to feel some degree of separation anxiety. While you might not throw a tantrum or cry in front of the child care center staff, you might have strong feelings of sadness or stress from the situation.

A friend who has already gone through the first day of care experience can help you to handle powerful emotions. Talk to another parent about what they felt on the all-important first day back to work and child care and how they made the experience easier. If you don't have a friend nearby to talk to, reach out to family members or connect with the parents of other children at your baby's new care center.

Along with ways to handle the emotions surrounding this transition, a friend or family member can provide you with insider tips for everything from an easy drop-off/pick-up to must-have items you need to bring.