Q&A: Attachment parenting to daycare transition

Adriana writes:

"I am currently a stay-at-home mom to my almost 11-month old son. I was blessed with a year off in between finishing up one long-term workassignment and beginning another this September. By way of instinct, I
ended up caring for my son using many "attachment parenting"
approaches  (co-sleeping, baby-wearing, etc.). No surprises, attachment
parenting works in creating attachment! So now, with only the brief
summer months standing in between being full-time at home with J and
leaving him in daycare (7 hours a day, 5 days a week), my heart is
literally breaking as I fearfully anticipate the unknown. I love the
daycare we have chosen. It's a formal/institutional setting, but it
seemed like a warm, loving, and incredibly well-run place where the
children were joyful and the staff both professional and kind.
Nonetheless, as attached as J and I are to each other, I'm scared of him
losing trust in me as I abandon him daily (sob, this one is the
worst… perhaps I'm being over-dramatic but that's how it feels), of
missing his growing-up moments, of his being fearful and lost in this
new situation, of our entire routine changing… AND of somehow hurting
him in the long run. I've been a pretty laid-back mom so far, but this
has gotten me into an absolute tizzy. 

J also tends towards a more inhibited, cautious, and
sensitive personality type right from the beginning which has made me
feel even more over-protective of him (what if he has a hard time
adjusting socially or spends his day miserable because he doesn't want
to be there). As you can see, I'm stuck in a cycle of anxiety-producing
what-ifs! Finally, I come from a cultural and family background where
daycare is not the norm. My family is providing no reassurances due to
their own reservations (ie not "believing" in daycare or nannies). My
mom stayed home with us when my brother and I were babies, and when life
circumstances no longer made that possible, she and my dad organized
their schedules so that at least one of them was home with us, even
though this was incredibly difficult and meant someone working a night
shift to make it possible. As a child, I never once had a babysitter
(besides my grandmother) and was never in a daycare situation. So I have
no personal experience on which to reassure myself that all will be
okay.

I'm definitely excited to go back to work and have
been wishing for the best of both worlds. So my question is, how do I
ease this transition for the both of us? My wish is that both J and I
have happy, fulfilling days when apart as well as together, that he'll
flourish in daycare and have fun, and then also be happy to be at home.
It's possible, right? J will be 13.5 months when starting daycare. I
would love to hear different people's experiences, especially those who
practiced attachment parenting."

Bad news first: I think the first couple of weeks might be rough for you. But mostly because there's a sleep regression/developmental spurt that happens right around 13 months. In some kids it's barely noticeable, but in others it hits like a Mac truck. So it's possible that your son will be going through that and that everything going on will be rough, including the transition to daycare.

Now, the good news: Since your son is so securely attached, he's got a great base to be secure enough to adjust to daycare. Assuming the daycare is a safe place with a consistent routine and consistent, loving caregivers, he will be fine once he's past that developmental leap.

If possible, both of you will be eased into the process if you could do a week of half-days before you start full-time. It'll get your son used to the routine of drop-off and pick-up, and knowing that the people there are nice and the other kids are fun, and that you always come get him at the end of the day. And it'll get *you* used to getting everything packed up and ready to go in the morning (do NOT underestimate the stress of that) and letting your sweet little thing go for a few hours with the caregivers before you have to add being present mentally at work into the mix.

It will, of course, work out. Maybe not in the first day or even the first month. But if you trust the caregivers, your son will adjust and probably even love it. (If you don't trust the caregivers, look for a different situation. Trust your instincts. You know when something's wrong, and don't feel guilty about acting in your instincts.) Good caregivers will want to know as much as you can tell them about your child, so if they know from the first day that your son is cautious, they'll be happy to know that and work with it.

I think one of the best surprises you're going to get from this experience is having other smart adults who know a lot about little kids give you feedback about your son. They'll also become good partners in helping you troubleshoot things that come up as he grows.

Now, the lack of support from your family is a completely different issue. (Aside: I love when people say they don't "believe" in things like daycare or extended nursing or anything else that exists independent of our belief in it. It's like saying you don't "believe" in gravity. Um, OK.) You already know this, but unless they're willing to come and care for him all day for you, they don't get a say. But the flip side is that your choice to use daycare might be making them question their own choices (or lack of choice, as the case may be). So I'd try to avoid confrontation about it, and just let your happy, healthy son be the proof that daycare is fine, just as babysitters are fine, just as all-day momcare or all-day dadcare or all-day grandparentcare or whatever configuration of daycare we come up with is fine. As long as it works for you and your son, it works. And if it doesn't work any more, you change it.

Readers? Who's gone through the SAHparent-to-daycare transition? What do you have to help? Either actual tips, or moral support?

65 thoughts on “Q&A: Attachment parenting to daycare transition”

  1. I found that doing part time care at first really helped the transition for both of us. As hard as it was for me, my daughter (who was 8 months at the time) came home exhausted every night because there were so many new things to explore and keep her buys. She has been in full time daycare for about 3 months now and is flourishing. She is developing wonderful social skills by interacting with other children that she never would have had if I had stayed home caring for her. She loves her caregivers and gets so excited when she sees them.It is a rough transition, but has proved to be the best solution for us.

  2. We accidently stumbled into a lot of AP actions with ShortStack but daycare was always part of our plan as well.He was young when he went to daycare but we started mid-week when I was not back at work. That gave us a few days where if we needed to get back together we could.
    Also at 13 months you can talk to him about it even if he can’t ask questions back. It is an adventure, you’ll miss him but get to see him later in the day, etc.
    One of the things that Moxie taught me that is SOOOOO helpful is that the first 10 minutes in the door is all about baby – talking and touching and smiling and kissin. I would love to put my stuff down and put away the groceries but if I don’t give ShortStack that first 10 minutes we don’t synch back into each other and it is a needy whiny evening.
    Good luck.

  3. Wow….did I write this in my sleep or something, or are Adriana and I in the exact same situation?? I am crying just reading this post…I totally get the anxiety. I have wasted so much time worrying about how awful September will be, and how much time I have left at home with him, and how my babe will handle it, and how I will deal with the guilt. The extended family and my own upbringing are contributing to making me feel worse, because same as Adriana, my mom was home raising us, because “that’s what mother’s are supposed to do.”Aaaahhhh – I feel your pain my friend.
    Looking forward to more responses telling us that it will be ok, and then in September I’ll just read them over every day.
    🙁

  4. Just know there will be a lot of crying – from both parties. It will take a few weeks of adjustment. He also may get sick a lot at first from exposure to all the new “germs”. It does get better. It gets to be actually fantastic. One day, you will drop him off and he will run in the room and not even turn back to say goodbye. (This actually is a good thing!) I was a wreck about leaving my son at daycare. Until I did it. It’s awesome! Daycare provides a social and academic setting that I could never provide at home. They have activities all day long! Not just him playing on the floor all alone while I try and clean the house around him. And, they learn how to share! And be kind to other chidren and other adults. Just think how much easier the transition will be when he starts pre-school or kindergarten? And, my son loves coming home too. It just becomes their “normal”. It will be fine.

  5. I’m the parent of a kid who was in daycare starting at 4 months, and I saw 4-5 kids who came in around the year-old age. I’m not going to sugar-coat it–they did cry all day for a few days. But after a week or so, they were totally well-adjusted and happy. No joke, the same kid who was screaming and sad one week was the happiest little camper you ever saw a few weeks later. The adjustment will be rough, but manageable.I agree that a week or even two of part time before your baby goes full-time is ideal. Even if it cuts into your pre-work time, that’s better than just no time to full time. I’d be surprised if the daycare didn’t insist on at least a few “test” part-time days.
    Good luck!

  6. My kiddos were both in daycare since they were 3 months old – first a family daycare, then as small center (now 2 and 5) – it’s been a great experience for them and for me! But in my experience drop offs can go in cycles – so your child may be fine the first day, but then not for a week, then okay for a month but suddenly crying again.a few tips for goodbyes:
    – have a bit of routine (this is something you can try now, when leaving your child with anyone else) – blowing kisses, and extra big hug, something easy and non-place specific
    – be quick! staying longer makes it worse
    – enlist the teacher’s help to engage the child in an activity. for my daughter (age 15 months when she started at the center), that was going to the window to wave to us as we left, or picking out a book to read, or “helping” with some task like feeding the fish.
    – other kids can also help engage your child when they first come in
    – you can ALWAYS call 10 minutes or so later to see how your child is – this is very important to go ahead and do a few times, as it gives you the peace of mind to actually have a good day at work.
    But really the most important thing you want is reassurance that you’re making the right choice – I think daycare has been great for my children – I wish I could do it more part-time (eg work only 3 or 4 days per week) but as it is I don’t have the time to do my job during the 5 days of the week and wind up working at night after they go to bed. So I do my best to keep the weekends fun and relaxed and we all eat dinner together almost every night. Kids adapt to the new normal faster than we do! (that said, I’m more nervous about my son starting Kindergarten this fall than he is right now!)

  7. This was basically my situation with my now 5 year old. I took a year off at home and returned to law school exactly when my son turned one.Emotionally the transition to daycare was fine. Henry loved the baby room and the baby room teachers loved him. One of his babyroom teachers still sends him cards and keeps up with my blog to see how he’s doing!
    Health issues were our trouble. Henry had never had so much as a sniffle before starting daycare and he got EVERY illness that went around. Pink eye, ear infections, colds, flues, rashes, everything hit him so fast. Therefore he was on and off antibiotics and started getting terrible bleeding yeast infection diaper rashes. I missed a lot of school staying home with him.
    Henry started the baby room at 12 months and then moved to the toddler room at 15 months and that was a tough emotional transition. Lots more children, lots more illnesses, lots of clinging and crying. That was probably the worst transition.
    Something to watch out for: does the daycare provider know how to take care of an uncirc’d boy? Ours didn’t and I figured it out the hard way since he couldn’t talk, but he could scream his head off during diaper changes. So I took in a Dr. Sears book to each room and flagged & highlighted the info on uncirc’d boys and told teachers what it said and asked them to read it themselves.

  8. Here’s a logistical suggestion: try to get everything ready the night before. My son has a lunchbag with his bottles and food that I get together before bed and leave in the fridge overnight. I put whatever supplies I need to take in with him in a bag so I can just grab it and go. We have less frantic rushing around in the morning, leading to a more cheerful drive to daycare and work for both of us.Also, I wasn’t sad the first few days of daycare, but when it became our ‘new normal’ I had a rough time. Be prepared for an extra wave of sadness once you aren’t sad anymore, if that makes sense.

  9. As a mom with a 13-month-old boy in daycare, I just want to reassure you that your bond with your baby will never go away.Though my baby was in daycare earlier than your son will be, I still have a connection with him that feels strong and secure. I know he trusts me, and he turns to me before anyone else when he’s upset or hurt.
    Daycare is great for socialization and learning new things, but you will always be the Mommy.
    One tip: Don’t make a big production during drop off time, and don’t sneak out the door when he’s distracted. Make it quick, say goodbye, and tell him you’ll be back later. He’ll learn to trust that you WILL come back.

  10. What tk_zk said. Some kids will take up to a month to stop being sad about it. One thing that helps is to send a lovey with them and also something they know that you will come back for — like a watch or a ring you wear all the time. Children don’t always get that you’ll come back for THEM, but they know you’ll come back for that thing you wear all the time.Half-days are a really good idea.

  11. First: Your bond will be fine. Your face will light up when you see him after daycare and you’ll cuddle and if you co-sleep you’ll have all those hours physically in the same space too. And if you don’t that’s fine too.My experience: My son and I were together 24/7 basically for his first year, and at 16 months I got a nanny part time while I worked from home and then at 22 months I got a FT job and he went into daycare. The transition was rough and for us it took a long time. What helped:
    – setting up a goodbye/hello routine that is brief (this is key) but meaningful (at 4.5 we stuff kisses in my son’s pockets – not the candy kind :)).
    – I did send him with a necklace of mine
    – having staff that were willing to hold/rock my son when he was upset
    – dropping a lot of other things (I got a cleaner for a brief period of time; we ate a lot of soup and grilled cheese) in order to focus on time together BUT ALSO
    – respecting that my son needed some downtime to just be at the end of the day and not be all “mummy WUVS WOOO” in his face for too many minutes
    I also was very neurotic and sent a 3-page guide about my son to the daycare which I think they laughed at a little but it made me feel better. 🙂
    It will be okay, truly.

  12. What Susan said, totally. The attachment you’ve created will serve you well, and will serve your child well as he navigates the world without you. (As children must, eventually, do.) This must be the case, otherwise, why would people practice AP? If it made it harder for the child to be in the world without you? Mama always comes back. It’s wonderful you’re excited about the new job and the daycare setting. This sounds like an exciting, wonderful change that will lead to tons of development and new experiences. Good luck!

  13. I was really anxious about the transition to daycare (at 10 months old). It sounds like our situation was very similar to yours (attachment, cautious child etc). And I was completely taken aback by how well he transitioned. There were some adjustments for sure, but I was the one who had more difficulty with it – he was just fine. I think it’s like Moxie said, you’ve given him a great base and that makes all the difference. The key for us was having a great daycare with amazing staff who I felt 100% confident in, so I knew he was getting as much love and good care there as he would be getting at home. We also did gradual entry, on a schedule the daycare staff helped us with, so he started at first for an hour with me there, then an hour on his own, then two, then a morning with his nap, etc, until we worked up to a full day. That helped a lot.Our guy is 2.5 now and I can assure you that he is JUST as attached to me (and his dad) as he was the day we started daycare. I think we have a really strong bond and I don’t think daycare has harmed that at all. Actually I think daycare has helped the bond, if anything, because I am a happier mom when I am with him and I really, really cherish our time together and focus on it being quality time, something I wasn’t really consciously focusing on before I went back to work. And he has flourished in the daycare setting; it’s been really good for him.
    Hope that helps!

  14. My daughter was about 14 months old when I started work and my husband became a stay-at-home dad — and I, too, struggled with not having a family precedent for this. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, and so is my sister-in-law, and I’ve internalized lots of skepticism about other choices because of our religious and cultural background. But: all is well for us and will be for you too — and if it isn’t, you’ll change things.The one lesson I have had to learn and continue to learn is that preemptive worrying is an enormous drain on my sanity. just speaking practically, the fact is that a few months in a baby’s life mean lots of changes, so no matter how much energy you devote to anticipating the transition to daycare, it’s likely to be different than you imagine (not necessarily better or worse, just different). And Moxie and other folks here have great suggestions for a few ways you can manage that transition when it draws nearer, but for now you could try just letting this post be a placeholder for your anxiety: it’s here, on the internet, and you can visit it if need be, but when the anxiety eats at you during the day or while you’re lying in bed, just tell yourself that you’ve dealt with it. I’ve discovered that the months of anxiety preceding many transitions with my daughter were invariably as much or more of a strain than the transitions themselves, even when those transitions were bumpy. Worrying about how I would possibly go on job interviews with a six month old who was still breastfeeding constantly kept me up many many nights; actually doing it was challenging but not nearly as soul-depleting as the worry.

  15. This is why I don’t write Moxie my questions or problems: She inevitably posts someone’s that so similar to mine right when I’m starting to freak out! And you Moxites always know just what to say!Not exactly the same situation, but I’m starting my son (second child) at daycare next week, after spending the first year with a nanny at our house. We are doing a trial day tomorrow (ACK! TOMORROW!), and he’ll start full time next Wednesday. I picked Wednesday to give him a half week to start the adjustment, just as others have said, though I can’t do half-days at work right now. My daughter had the nanny until she was 2.5, and then she started at pre-school, so this feels like a brand new experience, and I’m trying to keep the anxiety at bay.
    But having seen my daughter adjust to pre-school last fall, I know that it will be okay. I also know that having two in (different) daycares/pre-schools will make our mornings will be more hectic, and bedtime will be more chaotic. But that’s okay too. We will all adjust. And being an AP-leaning parent, I know that we are firmly attached and that will give him the base of support to handle more independence, just like it did with my daughter.
    Side note: I wish I could go back to cosleeping with my son, but he just wants to play when I try it. If you are cosleeping, you will have that special time with your child to re-connect, which will be nice.
    I have a tip for mothers going back to work: Bring a picture with you (or keep one digitally on your computer) of your child smiling or sleeping sweetly or something like that. I used to stare at those pictures while pumping, and they made me feel close to my children while I was away from them. I still look at pics digitally even now that I’ve stopped pumping!
    @Rayne of Terror – I hadn’t even thought of that about the uncirc’ed boy! I will be sure to ask tomorrow morning! Thanks.

  16. I agree about the relatively brief, ritualized drop off (but NO sneaking away without saying goodbye).Another important bit, though, is allowing for transition time at the pick-up because it is very likely that your son won’t feel like coming home with you right when he’s busy having fun with his friends. You will probably feel a bit hurt about that (I know I did) but if you remember that you actually want him to enjoy daycare then you’ll realize that he needs some time to finish what he was doing and say bye-bye to his friends before leaving with you. Plan on staying half an hour before leaving with him, and then if it turns out you can leave earlier, all the better. But having to physically carry him away, screaming about how he doesn’t want to leave, is something you really want to avoid (for both your sakes).

  17. I second the suggestions above, especially Susan’s about making your exit. Babies/kids pick up on any lingering or hesitation as a sign that you’re not so sure about the situation. Yes, they will cry. I’ve sat on the front step of my DCP’s house for a few minutes just to make sure my princess does indeed calm down.Just another thing to think about – around 1 year old/walking age, they start to become more independent anyways, so the OP might start seeing some signs of detachment that have NOTHING to do with daycare. That can be confusing and guilt-inducing until you realize that they are just enjoying being their own little person.
    And my suggestion is to make 2 packing lists – one for you, one for your kiddo. Leave space at the bottom, because you’re going to need to add things. Post it on whatever door you use to go out, and make your run down the list before you go. You won’t be sorry. Also, we went through a stage of not wanting to get dressed in the morning (no, REALLY, don’t want to get dressed) so we started putting her to bed in the next day’s clothes. Barring diaper leak, we were ready to rock in the morning, saved me 15 minutes of frustration at a time of day when I don’t handle things very well.

  18. I consider myself an attachment parent, but I also work full-time outside the home and my 2.5 yr old son has been in daycare since he was 3 months old.It will be hard! Especially that first week or two. Cut both of you some slack. It is ok to be sad that a wonderful time of being together all day every day is coming to an end.
    BUT. Find and focus on the positive things. Your son will make friends! He will be exposed to different people with different thoughts and ideas and learn to love an trust other adults and children. You will have a sense of fulfillment (hopefully) from your own work. And when you see each other at the end of each day, it will be just like Christmas- a beautiful moment to look forward to all day long.
    Some tips that have worked for us: Make your goodbye in the morning EXACTLY THE SAME EVERY MORNING. Whatever you come up with that works, stick to it. Hanging up jacket, a big hug, the same words (Our script: “I love you so much!! You’re going to have a really fun day at school! I’ll see you after work. I love you!), a kiss and then hand him into someones’s ARMS- not just on the floor.
    The end of the day can be really tough- you want to just play snuggle and cuddle and stare into eachother’s eyes and nurse (if you are breastfeeding)- definitely DO THAT for as long as you can. But at some point you’ll probably have to make dinner/do chores/get ready for the next day. Pop that little guy in a sling or baby carrier while you do these things! The closeness to you will maximize the hours you have together at the end of the day and most likely make bedtime a smoother transition.
    Good luck and just remember that many, many mommas and babes have been in your situation and it is doable. Follow your instincts and be gentle on yourself.

  19. I think a lot depends on your child’s personality. My daughter, who went to daycare starting at about 8 months old, loves her friends, but still would rather be home. My son, who started at 10 weeks old, loves going every day. Both of them are equally bonded with me and happy to see me each day. They go three days a week, about 7 hours, but both my husband and I work full-time. We have different days off so we can use less daycare, but I honestly think daycare has made my daughter a more social, well-rounded kid. If she were home, I think I could do the things that she does at daycare with her, but I know I wouldn’t do it as much. I would be occupied with other things — cleaning, gardening, etc. as well. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I take comfort in knowing that when I can’t be there, my child is with someone who has no other focus than the children she is caring for. Her work is teaching and comforting children, not laundry, household chores, etc. My daughter was signing words at 8 months, and now, at 3, she can recognize some words in a book, and knows what her letters and numbers look like on a page. It’s not because she’s super-smart — all of the kids in her class know these things. She calls all of the other kids her friends, and gets really excited when she sees them outside of daycare.It also helps that I have understanding caregivers and co-workers. It’s an on-site daycare, so I was able to breastfeed twice a day during work. They didn’t give me looks when I continued to come once during the day until he was 14 months old (he’s 15 months old now, and just nursing in the evening before bed). They have been kind, open and honest with me, and I have no qualms about either child’s care when they aren’t with me.

  20. My son, who is now 3.5 yo, went to full-time daycare (institutional, but well-run and very warm and loving) when he was 11 mo. The shock wasn’t at the beginning, since the baby room was so full of interesting toys and other babies to interact with, that he was really happy to be there most of the time. For him, the difficulties were in the return to the daycare routine after a long weekend, vacation or any extended absence, so on those mornings, he cried (and I’d cry, if I was doing dropoff, but only after our SHORT goodbye). This crying would never last very long and he’d be happily playing within 20 minutes or so.My son was also more introverted and cautious up until the beginning of this school year. The transition from baby room to toddler class was rough for nap reasons (he just wouldn’t), but the current class is now the golden year, where he and the teachers have really wonderful chemistry and he’s now one of the oldest in the class, which contributed to his boost in physical and social confidence.
    Re: your lack of family support: my mother was just like that, too–she didn’t “believe” in daycare or babysitters and would have preferred to stay at home to do all child rearing duties herself (martyr alert!). (Note: My paternal grandmother stayed home with me while my mother, for financial reasons, had to work outside the home, for which she is eternally resentful.)
    I’d like to think that my personal happiness has long been severed from my mother’s approval (since she has long disapproved of most choices I’ve made) and I honestly can say her lack of support has not bothered me. Daycare has been a godsend for our family and staying at home just wasn’t in the cards for me (nor did I ever aspire to it). There was even some sounds of disapproval when I sent my daughter at 3mo to the same daycare this year (my mother offered to quit her job to take care of the kids full-time–for lots of reasons, this was a bad idea). My daughter LOVES the caregivers, LOVES being dropped off (and LOVES being picked up at the end of the day), LOVES every minute of being there. (She’s now 11 mo.) Daycare has been such an enriching experience for both of our kids.

  21. Never forget that you will STILL spend more time with your child than the daycare providers. Believe me, I understand the fear of “missing” milestones…but you will still know and love your child better than anyone else.

  22. My daughter started in child care (just half-days) after spending her first 14 months with just me or her dad. The first couple weeks were hard. She cried a lot at drop-off, but she never wanted to leave when we came to get her. We knew she was having a good time, was safe, and was learning important social skills, and the tears were just part of the huge shift in routine for her. It got a lot better after she had a couple weeks to settle in.If you are nursing, that can be a wonderful way to reconnect at the end of the day, and helps somewhat with the new exposures to infectious diseases. If you are doing the drop off or pick-up, try to make sure you go into the room and touch the toys and other kids–that way your body will start making antibodies to the germs he is being exposed to there.
    I never felt like my bond with her was compromised by child care. You’re his mama, and that won’t change just because he is in someone else’s care for part of the week. Your fears are all completely normal, but it really will work out.

  23. Everyone is giving you such excellent advice.I have one practical tip, on the health front. Yes, your child will get sick a lot more during the first exposure to all those germs (but if you don’t do it now, you’ll do it when you start school… it is going to come no matter- we develop immunity by getting exposed to the germs, and unless there is a vaccine, there is no short cut).
    Anyway- ask your doctor about vitamin D. Our pediatrician is a firm proponent of vitamin D supplementation (the AAP recommends it, too) and one of the reasons is for immune function. We started when my eldest was about a year old- the entire family takes vitamin D. We are sick much less often, and my younger child’s transition to day care has so far involved a lot fewer illnesses than my older child’s transition did. There is even a recent paper out with data showing a probable mechanism for how vitamin D supports immune function.
    On the emotional front, it will be hard, but you’ll get through it. My husband does drop off partly because it tore me up when my baby would cry when I left. I do pick up, and just get the big smiles! You are starting at a hard time for the transition, but at a good time in that I think that day care actually becomes enriching at about a year old. At least it was in our case- they started doing art projects and music and honestly, when I showed up to pick her up she was always having so much fun and doing things that would never have occurred to me to do.
    As for your family- google “Mothers and Others” by Sarah Hrdy for an anthropologist’s take on how humans are a “collaborative breeding” species. It will give you some talking points. If you just want a summary, I had a post on this a while back, but don’t have time to go dig it up right now. But as luck would have it, I think I link to it in the post that is up right now.
    In general, I get that my decision to be a working mom can make someone who chose differently feel defensive. But I think that is crazy. I made a decision based on what was right for my family at this time. The other mother made a decision based on what was right for her family at the time. Neither decision is a judgment on the other!

  24. I agree with everyone and felt similarly to the original poster–the anxiety was awful. On the first day I dropped my then 10 month old off, she obviously cried and I got into the car feeling horrible. It didn’t help that my mother-in-law called a few hours later to tell me I was making a mistake and that my daughter needed a one-on-one caregiver in order to thrive. Needless to say, this put me completely over the edge, but I held my ground. Now my daughter is almost three and her experience at the same daycare has been wonderful (also an “institutional” setting–sounds so clinical but so professionally run and full of loving people who want to be there).If I’ve learned anything these last three years it’s that crying doesn’t mean your child will be scarred or be eternally miserable. I see now that sometimes learning to separate is a positive thing. It makes me so happy to see my girl leave the house with my husband, a neighbor, a babysitter, whoever, and just give me a kiss and happily skip out the door! (Doesn’t always happen–she can still be clingy, especially now with a newborn in the house, but it happens sometimes).
    One other thing to second here–the illnesses. Nothing was severe, but my daughter was sick the entire first year and still picks up something every few weeks. My husband and I missed weeks worth of work that first year. If at all possible, line up a babysitter or family member who can fill in at times if the illnesses become frequent, especially in the winter. Last year we did that and we were able to miss far less work. Cost us a fortune, but at least we could function at our jobs.
    Best of luck, Adriana and others. I know that anxiety can just eat away at you, but it will pass. Sometimes the anticipatory anxiety is worse than the real experience . . . (wish my body could hear my brain saying that more often!)

  25. Ah. So sorry that this is all so stressful. But all my experiences are that it is a transition but there is really wonderful, wonderful childcare around, and that it will all be OK in the end.Here are my datapoints.
    We are part of babysitting co-op so I am used to dropping off my kids and having children be left with us. And even with children I have know for years, they sometimes have a hard-time and cry, yet literally a few minutes later, as soon as the door is closed, they are fine! Agh! Not good for parental stress levels if you are leaving your child.
    Child 1 cried with the nanny for a few months, but I called as often as I wanted to check everything was OK. Child 2 took longer than I expected to be fine at drop-offs, but ALL of my friends who bumped into them at the park (as well as the nanny) confirmed with me that he was happy as larry whenever they saw him.
    Child 2 transitioned from nanny-share to ‘pre-school’ at 2.5, and we went about 8 times for 2 hours when I stayed and played with him. It was good for him, and it was even better for me. I saw how great the teachers were at dealing with drop-offs. I saw how nice they were with all the kids. And I got a chance to chat with them informally and ask them about how they handled transitions. And it made me feel confident about how completely accepting they were of me turning up and hanging out.
    Another friend went twice a week for about 3 months, staying with her for the whole morning. She was going back to an intense, intense work situation, and just felt that she could not deal with worrying about a drop-off. Again, the staff at her childcare were very supportive.
    Asking the teachers about how they handle it, and what they have observed works best for kids, helped me.
    The only thing that really, really helped me was when someone described it as learning a new parenting skill. If you want to work and you are using childcare, then you will be dealing with childcare (in various different guises) for years. So tackle it as a new skill to be learned, just like breastfeeding etc.

  26. I never intended to put a child of mine in daycare. My mom was a SAHM, my sister is a SAHM, everyone in my family is a SAHM. I quit my full-time engineering job after I got married and started a PhD, and a main reason for the change was flexibility in my schedule to start a family.Between me and my husband, we stayed home with our son for 18 months. And it got to the point where we couldn’t do it (unless I wanted to quit my PhD, which I didn’t) and needed to put Ian in daycare. I was sick over this. But we found an awesome center with wonderful facilities, caring teachers, and friendly kids.
    Our son has thrived. He’s now nearly 3 years old, so we’re coming up on a year and a half of daycare. He really has done well there. It has really benefited his social skills (he’s a champion sharer) in particular.
    Like you, Ian does 7 hour days, 5 days a week. For me, I feel like it is a long day for a kid. But they play all morning, eat lunch, take a 2-hour nap, and then he plays for an hour or two before I pick him up. It works for us. He is happy. We are happy. I still fight with mommy guilt sometimes….but I know this was the right choice for us. Much to my surprise!!
    Good luck. I think your anxiety is normal. But if your child is anything like mine, he will LOVE having friends to play with every day, he’ll love his teachers, he will learn important skills (like sharing, and that he can have fun with other people too, not just mommy, and to be a little more independent) that will benefit him for years to come. In my experience, the *thought* of daycare was way scarier than the actual practice.

  27. @Cloud: Yes to “Mothers and Others”. The notion of a Mom happily taking care of the kids and house all day *by herself* is a nutty 20th Century notion that seems to have been invented for the sole purpose of making women feel guilty. It does take a village and we’re all better off for that.I was prepared to hate daycare and was convinced that it would inevitably be inferior to the care I could provide. We did a slow transitions, with multiple visits and short stays before full time care started. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much both my son and I liked his daycare and how happy he was there. As tough as it may be to transition to daycare, be open to the possibility that your child may thrive in an environment where he can interact with other children and other caring adults. Ultimately, the goal of having a secure attachment to parents and caregivers is to enable the child to be confident and independent and able to trust himself and others. Attachment does not equal dependence– a kid securely attached to his mom will ultimately develop the confidence to be able to function well outside her presence.
    Ditto to those who advocate transition rituals and a quick but direct goodbye. Totally worked for us. At 3 y.o. my son, who has been in daycare since 6 mos., has got transitions down-pat and is a confident, happy-go-lucky kid. Probably largely his nature, but I like to think it’s also a sign of secure attachment to his parents and caregivers.

  28. One thing that was suggested to me (and my little dude started daycare at 4 months) that I found extremely helpful was to go and spend a couple of hours there with your son during that first week. So he and I went at around the time he would be going and stayed for the morning (my husband dropped us off and picked us up). It was really helpful to see what the babies did while they were there, to talk to the teachers a little and get to know them, too. It made me a lot less anxious to know exactly what he’d be doing while I was away.I also second the others’ advice of getting out of there quickly, having a routine, etc. There’s a lot of fabulous advice up there.
    Good luck! You’ll be fine. 🙂

  29. I have two other tips/comments:-Time your dropoffs to be the best fit for you child. It works better for my daughter to be dropped off prior to circle time, while the kids are still running around playing. If we get there at circle time, she has NO interest in leaving my side… unless a teacher can get her “help” doing something. My sister’s daughter transitioned best during her pre-school’s circle time, when everyone was relatively peaceful and quiet.
    -Although a quick goodbye routine is best, don’t feel like you have to tear your child off of you and escape them if your child is really clinging to you and hanging on you as you head to the door. (It does happen, but they do get over these phases… and sometimes go back through them.) I don’t care what anyone says. If my child is screaming for me and desperate to stay in my arms, I’m going to stay with her until she is ready to move away. I will encourage her to do something else, I will enlist a teacher’s help, I will do what I can. But there have been many mornings when I’ve been real late to work so I could sit down with her in my lap for circle time until she was comfortable enough to go to a teacher. And these times didn’t happen the first week either, but more at times of high seperation anxiety.

  30. I started my daughter in daycare when she was 16 months old. I was worried about how she’d react but she was totally fine. On the first day, she saw the new toys and kids and just wandered off to explore. I was expecting more of a good-bye and tears. I was definitely more distraught than she was!It could be her personality, but I want to share a story of an easy transition that worked — if nothing else, just to lift your spirit.
    One thing that may have helped the transition is that I joined a gym with free childcare just before she turned 1. We went twice a week and stayed an hour or so. Perhaps having some experience with “strangers” caring for her in small doses for several months leading up to daycare’s start helped her adjustment?

  31. My son started 1/2 days at daycare around the same age, and it was great for him. Definitely plan some partial days to start, before you have to go to work, and if possible, have a few days even before that where you and he go together for a few hours, so he gets you to introduce him to all the fun stuff there.Only other warning is that if he’s still nursing, the first month or so that you’re back at work he’ll try to keep you up all night nursing because he missed you in the day. Good times.

  32. No time to read all the comments today, so please forgive me if I’m repetitive. Here’s my experience:DS had very part-time care starting around 4 months — a baby sitter 3 hours/day, twice a week. That lasted until about 8 months, when he got very needy and the babysitter wasn’t up to dealing with that compassionately, and I let her go. Then we started a mother’s morning out program (2x/week, four hours each time) around 10/11 months. All this time, DS was a very needy little boy. (No special needs, just very demanding and we did a lot of AP parenting — and he’s not a good sleeper.) We started out slow there: two hour stints the first week or two. I found later that the teacher held him the entire time for the first couple of months, which impressed the hell out of me. Even though it wasn’t easy for him, it was, I’ll admit, hella easy for me because I was DESPERATE for a little mommy time, and really needed to get going with my dissertation (Ha. Ha. Ha.)
    About 13 months, we added a morning nanny share to the mix, for half-time care 4 days/week. That was okay. But what was really good? Was when a slot finally opened in daycare at about 19 months. He was in the same place every day, and the schedule was known ahead of time, and I no longer had to do naps (grueling with a poor sleeper — the biggest tease ever). The consistency was a godsend.
    It sounds like a lot of care, but really wasn’t until daycare kicked in, and the bonding we did in the first year really did make a difference. I think having some experience with outside care helped too, because DS’s transition was smooth.
    What helped? Taking the first couple of weeks to myself to adjust. Letting my husband drop DS off. And most of all, working with the daycare workers. At our center, they have a great drop-off/pick-up routine that’s actually a part of the socialization curriculum. (DS goes to a school for children on the autistic spectrum, whose therapy includes daycare with typically developing children, so they have social routines well developed and in place.)
    What I’ve found, as I’ve had serious health problems the last year, is that daycare can’t replace mommy or daddy, but it does become another source of stability in a child’s life. And thank God for that. Childhood needs all the stabilizing forces it can get.
    I still have mixed feelings about daycare. I come from a more supportive family than the OP, but they don’t do daycare, unless it’s taking in other people’s kids, and it doesn’t quite compute with them or me. I know it’s changed how I develop as a parent — I used to be able to see myself growing along with my son, and now I struggle with that, and struggle to stay connected and not just have my head entirely in my work. (And then I struggle to focus on my work.) It’s not ideal, but neither is the alternative for me. I’m not sure I could ever be completely happy, to be honest, but that’s probably got more to do with my wanting to have it all and that being impossible. I’ve found parenting is not so much a juggling act as a situation in which you put some of the juggling balls down while you juggle the others, and then switch.
    I’ve also found it confusing to try to figure out, as DS grows more independent, what is just normal baby-to-toddler growth and what is daycare. It’s hard to “lose” my baby, and harder still because with colic and clinginess and sleep deprivation, I often wonder if I ever actually had a baby — the experience was not the one I thought I was signing up for.
    DS is THRIVING in daycare. He’s learning a lot of things that I didn’t wind up showing him, and getting a hell of a lot of attention. He’s playing with other kids, and getting outside daily. He has awesome developmentally appropriate activities. He sometimes wants to be home more, and I often wish I could pick him up a little earlier than I can. FWIW, I think 7 hours is just about perfect, if it’s enough time for mom. When I could swing it, it was a great amount of time for DS.
    To sum up: see what the daycare center recommends for the adjustment period. Keep in touch with them. Hang on for the first couple of weeks. Good luck — I think it won’t be perfect, since nothing in parenting or life is, but I think it will be really, really great.

  33. I can very much feel your pain. While you’ve received several excellent comments with suggestions, life experience and tips or tricks, I don’t have any more that I can offer, except saying that I’ve been there too. Sometimes that helps more than anything. They do say it gets better. It’s been 4 months for me, and I can tell that it has improved somewhat, but it’s not really better yet.The worst were the days when my son didn’t want to kiss me or hug me or say goodbye. I found that if I kissed him before I took him in, that worked better and he’d hug me and say goodbye. Apparently at almost 2 he’s still too cool to be cutsey with Mommy in front of his peeps. I also make up funny stories like that to tell myself when I’m feeling bad. It’s kind of a survival instinct, and hopefully you’ll find one that works for you too.
    Good luck, and there are many of us out here who know how you feel.

  34. And ditto to the notion that early attachment helps children adjust to daycare. Without a doubt, all that AP stuff early on paid off.

  35. The first few days will blow, there’s really no getting around that. There will be tears (in our case from both of us). But after a week or so, my son really started to have fun. I think he’s more resilent than I am. What really saved me was the amazing communication from his teachers. In addition to daily notes from a teacher, his school also schedules a weekly talk time where his teacher calls me at work to discuss his week. Even though it’s only 15 minutes every Friday, it does wonders to help me feel more connected to his life at school. If your school/daycare doesn’t offer this, ask and see if they can arrange it at least for a few months after he starts.

  36. I am coming back with another suggestion to help you feel connected with your son’s day at day care- schedule a fun outing and invite the whole class.No, really.
    We did a beach trip. A group of three of us moms who had become friends picked a date that worked for all of us, and then we put notes in everyone’s folders and invited everyone. That was the extent of the organization. On the day, it was so fun to watch our kids get excited as more and more of their little friends showed up. And it was fun to watch them interact with their friends.
    Plus, we got to know more of the parents. We’re planning to do it again this year.
    Obviously, not everyone has a beach nearby, but I think a playground trip would work well, too.
    If that seems too overwhelming, try to pick one or two kids you son seems to like (or whose parents you think you’d like) and organize a play date some weekend. It is nice to see your child interact with friends, and it gives you a little more context about what’s going on at day care.

  37. I was getting an older (2.9y) kid transitioned to preschool, and we found that sending him Mondays and Wednesdays lead to angst at both ends of the gap, which settled down when we added Fridays to the schedule.A long weekend, or a day with a scheduled early-release from school still tends to throw him for a loop – usually resulting in drop-off/pickup tantrums.
    The original two day per week plan was intended to let him get some of the germs coped with before paying for more days that he’d miss due to being sick. That turned out to be a non-issue.

  38. So many words of experience and wisdom. I offer only moral support and a reminder to trust that attachment that you have made. Now it is time for your baby to become more independent, and it will all be ok. Just wait until he is a teenager…

  39. Thanks to everyone for all of the ideas & advice. I’m going back to work at the end of August, when my baby is about 6 months old. Your advice really helps me get my head around the idea of leaving him, which has been really freaking me out lately. There’s a week overlap between when I’m starting work and when the daycare is available, so I think I’ll take your advice and do a few half days that first week so we can start adjusting.

  40. My daughter is/was this kid. She had a really difficult time with the transition into (almost-)full-time care, and she was 3.It sounds to me like your instincts are right on for your kid (surprise!), but here’s my specific advice, having been there.
    1. Most important AND hardest. You have GOT to make peace with it. If circumstances dictate that you have to go back to work and you’ve found a childcare that you love, you’ve done what you can control and the rest is making the best of it. I don’t care how well you think you’re hiding it — YOUR KID WILL KNOW if you’re in a tizzy, miserable, feeling like you’ve abandoned him every day. You’ve got to get to a place where you believe he’ll be fine. If you don’t believe it, he won’t believe it and you’ll both have so much harder a time with it. I know it’s hard, but it’s worth the effort.
    2. Make the drop-off transition as FAST and consistent as possible. Do whatever you have to to never, ever go back in a second time. If you forget your purse, ask a stranger to retrieve it for you. Everyone will understand why.
    3. It helped my daughter a lot to have a quick fun activity that happened immediately after I left every day. For her, a little job was great — she fed the class fish right after I left (with the teacher’s help). It just gave her something else to focus on.
    4. The more consistent your pick-up time is, the better. Tempting as it is to run to the daycare the second you get out of the office, consider running a quick errand first if you happen to get out 1/2 hour earlier. It really is better in the long run.
    5. Pictures of you and a bunch of family members can be nice. My younger kid liked his laminated and hanging in his cubby, but my daughter liked hers in a little book she could carry around.
    6. Tell the daycare providers (the director/office person AND the individual responsible for your child’s class — they always intend to communicate, but sometimes it falls through the cracks) about your concerns. Keep it factual: ‘J has trouble with separation’ rather than emotional: ‘I just know he’s going to feel abandoned and be scarred for life!’
    7. Do a trial run or six. Our daycare was just fine with me coming in a few times and spending a couple of hours there with my kids. Not so much that they thought this was a place we’d go together, but enough so it was a familiar and they knew the routine a little. (This helped me, too, since it meant that I knew the routine, too, and could look at my watch and know it was snack time, or nap time, or circle time, or whatever.)
    8. Ask the provider when it’s appropriate to call and check in. They have a pretty good idea how long it takes kids to settle in. If they are reluctant to say, I suggest an hour.
    9. I hesitate to write this one, but I think it’s important. Prepare yourself for the possibility that the crying-at-drop-off could last awhile. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised, but I have absolute confidence in the place I took my daughter, and she loved it there (and still, a year after she left, talks about how she misses it), but it took months before she stopped crying at drop-off. Her teachers were great about helping me manage it as best we could, and it got to be pretty short, but she still struggled. And I had to accept that. Which brings me to …
    10. Know that if you’re doing what you have to do, the crying is not the end of the world. If your kid cried because you made him ride in a car seat, or because you wouldn’t let him ride on the back of his cousin’s motorcycle or because you wouldn’t let him stay up until 11 to watch Magnum P.I. reruns or [insert parental boundaries here], you wouldn’t feel guilty, would you? This is the same thing. Your child is an important part of your world, but he is not the only member of it, and there are needs other than his own that have to be met. It’s OK for him to “suffer” (again, you’ve chosen a place you think is great — we aren’t talking about leaving him on the corner in a basket here) for the sake of those needs.
    Best of luck to you. Try try not to let the dreading of it spoil the remaining time you do have.
    For whatever it’s worth, my daughter, who cried for the better part of a month when she started daycare, and every morning for the better part of a year, skipped happily off to kindergarten on her own this past year and loved every minute of it. She is a happy, well-adjusted social little girl who still loves to be with her mommy more than anything else in the world.

  41. @Kim- both of my kids started day care at 5 months old. IMO the 5-7 month time is a relatively easy time to do it. They haven’t hit separation anxiety yet, but they are bigger and a bit more mobile (although mine didn’t crawl until 7.5 and 8.5 months), so can play with things, etc during the inevitable times when the day care provider needs to be caring for a different kid.To all of you looking ahead to this transition with a bit of angst and fear- it WILL get easier. Try to block out the guilt vibes that come from the rest of society. You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.

  42. 1. Most important AND hardest. You have GOT to make peace with it. If circumstances dictate that you have to go back to work and you’ve found a childcare that you love, you’ve done what you can control and the rest is making the best of it. I don’t care how well you think you’re hiding it — YOUR KID WILL KNOW if you’re in a tizzy, miserable, feeling like you’ve abandoned him every day. You’ve got to get to a place where you believe he’ll be fine. If you don’t believe it, he won’t believe it and you’ll both have so much harder a time with it. I know it’s hard, but it’s worth the effort.THIS, my god, THIS.

  43. My kid didn’t start daycare until he was over two, but what really helped both him and I, was me staying with him while he was there for the first few weeks.Initially he only went one day a week, and we would go and hang out there together in the morning, and then go home at lunch time. After a couple of weeks, we then started going back again in the afternoons.
    After a few weeks of that, I left him for the first time, only for 10 minutes (I had to duck home and grab the washing off the line). Eventually I was able to leave him for longer periods, reminding him that “Mama always comes back”.
    Now, he loves it, and doesn’t want to come home at the end of the day. It was a tough few months getting him settled, but I am so glad I did it that way instead of leaving him to cry.

  44. My little one sounds very similar, and I had exactly the same fears. After different care arrangements, he went to daycare at 2 years. We took the beginning slowly, sometimes I stayed an hour or two until he was happy playing with something and then I gave him a hug and said goodbye. He was okay for the first week or two, then leaving him got harder for a few weeks. There was even one day when we both left in tears – the regular carers were both sick and there were several crying new kids and I just didn’t feel there was anyone who could comfort him properly, so we left. After that, his dad dropped him off for a few weeks, we didn’t want him to have to deal with my ambivalence and anxiety. Now he goes (usually) happily and seems to really enjoy it.It has also helped that we have a strong routine for drop offs. On the way there we talk about all the fun things he’ll do that day. We arrive and he hangs his bag on the hook, I sign him in, we rub his sun cream in together, then give him a stamp on his hand, then I give him a cuddle and kiss and pass him into a carer’s arms for another cuddle (this is a really important step for him, even now after 6 months).
    Daycare hasn’t harmed our relationship at all. It took a good month for both of us to adjust but now it’s fine. I still get occasional pangs of guilt, but that’s being a mama.

  45. To make your peace with it — which is important as Lisa and Jan noted — combine the very logical arguments made by rubyinparis and caliboo to understand that what you’re doing is not at all incompatible with AP. (And remember, AP is just a label. If you get to caught up in labels and doctrine you’re setting yourself up for a world of hurt.). You know your child, and you’ll know if there’s a real problem with another caregiver. If my Bear has eaten voraciously and slept a lot during time with another adult, I know he’s not happy and secure in their presence and is looking for comfort substitutes.

  46. I can relate to this one! I was home with my daughter until she was 15 mos and then she went into full time childcare. It took about a month and then it got better and better. 2 years later, she often doesn’t want to leave when I pick her up, she’s thrived, she’s attached, she’s learned amazing skills and new social interactions. Also – her teachers are a major parenting lifeline for me. Getting their input, thoughts and insights about my child is amazing. Feels like a team effort. Good luck! It’ll be ok.

  47. (It’s so exciting to be offering my own experience here — how amazing, to feel like I have expertise!)My son is almost seven months old and started daycare at six months, so we’re arguably still in the transition. Until six months, he was home with me all the time; now he’s in daycare three days a week so I can finish grad school. My experience so far has been that he seems to enjoy the attention and interaction of daycare (there are a few older kids to watch, which I think is exciting for him, and I like the way our DCP talks to him and holds him and treats him.) His sleep schedule has been a bit disordered, and he has his first sore throat now (sigh), but on the whole, I get the sense that because we’re pretty well attached to one another, he’s able to weather my departure and then my return without undue stress. My hope is that as he gets older, he’ll enjoy being around the bigger kids even more, and he’ll find daycare fun — so he can enjoy his time there, and then he can enjoy his time with me and his dad and the rest of our clan.

  48. I can’t relate to the new childcare routine but my son is also a quiet, shy, reserved kind of kid. I was worried once he started preschool he would miss out on the fun because he wouldn’t talk or engage much but rather look in from the outside. But he comes home raving about this book or this art project or whatever they did that day. He barely speaks a word to anyone at school but clearly he is learning and having fun. Good luck, I’m sure your son will thrive too!

  49. My daughter is 15 months and I went back to work 3 months ago.Trust me, so long as you are comfortable with your care givers, it will work out. Here are some tips/ things to think about:
    1) Be prepared for crying at drop off to last a while. It will be okay and eventually he will stop.
    2) Be prepared for him to be really cranky when you get him home for the first couple weeks. You would think he would be happy to see you (which he will be) but actually until he feels comfortable with the daycare, he will just bottle up stress until he feels safe with you and then he will just let it all out. So you end up with cranky baby. That too will pass.
    3) Your mood/attitude is key. If you drop him off and are clearly anxious or upset, he will be more anxious and upset. Now since you are human you might not be able to do much about this one for a while, but if you can try to stay as positive as possible, it will make his transition easier. Babies and Toddlers are like little mood sponges and they are VERY perspective.
    Lastly, IT WILL BE OKAY. Good luck!!

  50. I feel your pain and second (third, fourth?) what others have said, especially the half day transitions if possible. I went back when my daughter was eight months old and I remember counting the months, then the weeks and finally the days. I can tell you that it was always MUCH harder for me than for her. Last year after spending the summer home with her (I’m a teacher) I went through the same thing again. The first day she ran over to her teacher to play and I went out crying. I can tell you that she now loves the social aspect of school and is pretty vocal this summer about missing it when she is stuck here at home with me. It does teach them great social skills, gives them a chance to learn to share and bond with other adults – and it gives you a time to exercise that other part of who you are aside from being a mom. I have really learned to enjoy that part over the past year.I wrote a letter to a friend who was going through the same thing a few months ago. She is also a teacher. I posted it on my blog (you’ll see it on the side panel as a favorite post), though I think everyone here has certainly covered everything already.

  51. It will be hard at first. Transitions are always hard. But as an attached parent(I breastfed my son until he was almost 2 years old, we still share a family bed, and aside from daycare, he has never had a babysitter other than my mother) I can tell you that daycare and attachment parenting can live happily together.My son is also very cautious and quiet, but he has always been happy at “school,” and even more, he is the one who befriends the children who cry easily and who need extra comfort at daycare. It’s almost as if his security from our attached relationship spills over into his friendships, and he has that extra bit of nurturing to offer to others.
    What Moxie mentions about having educated partners in nurturing your child is so true. It’s a gift to have other people who share a love for your child and who are working daily to help him develop and grow.
    Good luck. It won’t be easy at first. It WILL be ok, though, and eventually, it will be great.

  52. Yeah for you and your son that you were able to spend so much time together!I only had 12 weeks off with the birth of both of my boys (2.5 years apart) so its not quite the same situation but I thought you should know a few things:
    1. We are an attached, nursing, co-sleeping, babywearing, etc family.
    2. My first child was (and is) SUPER intense. Nursed until I was 5 months pregnant when my milk ran dry (he was over 2yo) and he REFUSED the bottle at daycare until he was 5 months old. He nursed all night for quite some time.
    3. We are great!
    4. We had a rough patch from about 9 months until over 18 months with daycare drop offs. Brutal. I went to work crying several times. He loved it at daycare, it was a home daycare of a friend of mine who loves him like her son.
    5. The transition will suck but you will get through it.
    6. DO NOT listen to anyone who tries to make you prep your son by separating yourself from him “early”. The biggest thing I’ve learned from my two boys is that worrying about it doesn’t make it any easier. Transitions suck. If you love each other, you will make it through on the other side wonderfully!
    7. You are a fabulous mother and there is nothing wrong with wanting the best of both worlds.
    8. I have no idea where I was going with this numbering thing. The hubby is holding the baby and expecting me to take him now. Good luck!

  53. I took about 8 months off for leave, and we did (do?) many attachment-parenting type things, like baby wearing, etc.1. I fully support the easing-into-it with half-days or two or three days for the first week.
    2. My son is 22 months old, and we all love daycare. He has actual friends he enjoys seeing, he’s developed relationships with his teachers there, and he’s learned so much. I really think it’s helped with his verbal development and of course, all the usual social development advantages (learning to share and to get along with kids his age).
    3. It makes the time we do have together seem more precious. Nothing is better than a lazy morning just the two of us after a couple of long shifts at work. My son is my new BFF.
    The only drawbacks are: passing around viruses/colds. I know it’s better for him in the long run, but there are times that the green mucus seems unending. Also, learning negative things from his peers, like “MINE!”. Otherwise, I love our situation. My husband and I get to work and grow professionally and still have valuable time with our son.

  54. I’m with Cloud on Mothers and Others. It’s a great read.As for advice, I pretty much got none as I put my son in daycare at 2 months and never looked back. Full disclosure: He’s in a paid setting in (someone else’s) home 2 days/week, with my mom 2 days/week, and with me or his dad the other 3. So we’re absurdly lucky, and beyond that, by starting at 2 months we avoided all the stranger anxiety stuff, because he knew all his caregivers by the time he reached that phase. Thus my inability to offer advice. But here’s why I’m posting anyway: honestly, he’s a delightfully (at times annoyingly) attached kid. I (his mom) am actually the only person in our household WOH; his dad is home (and not working for pay), but note that we still use childcare. It’s because we like it. It allows us the parents to be more present with our son when we are with him, and him the kid to get interactions with other kids (and adults) that would otherwise be sadly lacking or at least take a lot more work for us to pull together.
    None of which is intended to invalidate your to-date approach or your concerns. I don’t doubt that the transition will be difficult and I’m sorry that anticipating it is driving you nuts — and that you don’t have family support. But really, there can be big upsides, and I hope you will find these, in time, also.

  55. You are still an excellent mother, even if your baby is in daycare part or all day.I started my son in daycare at 10 months — so so hard on both of us. But, in a few weeks, he was doing well — loving his daycare providers and loving us when we picked him up.
    My only advice is to give it a couple weeks for adjustment, and then, if it’s not working, listen to your gut and your kid and make changes as necessary.
    Good luck!

  56. Agree with everything already said.Also:
    Give *yourself* some transition time between work and pick-up. If your schedule permits a bit of exercise then, that’s the perfect time! Even if it is a five-minute sit with deep breathing in a parked car. Switch off the blackberry. Drink some water, Change to comfy shoes in the car. Whatever.
    Don’t underestimate the effort it takes *for you* to shift gears and pace from work to home. No matter how much you missed your sweet child, if you’re lucky enough that your job fully occupies your mind and/or body, you’ll need a transition routine for yourself to be able to be fully present for your child and help with their transition stresses
    And, you’ll need to work harder at taking care of yourself. It’s easier to do that “around the edges” when you’re at home. Far harder not to skip meals etc when you are shifting spaces and gears yourself twice a day.
    Good luck and keep us posted!

  57. Oh! I forgot to say that one ritual that my son’s daycare kids ALL did after one child started it, was to push their parents out the door. That way, they are the ones controlling their parents departure.It helps also because both the parent and child part laughing.

  58. I totally agree with the all the advice given above. Here are my disjointed thoughts:*be prepared for cranky, clingy evenings for a while. We had a shower together each night for a while to wash off the day.
    *if breastfeeding, be prepared for the after hours feeding frenzy.
    *if breastfeeding, go to daycare and be exposed to all the germs there. Do the drop-offs and pick-ups for a while
    *don’t try and do anything else for two months. Come home each night, shower, jammies,sling him, make dinner, snuggle on couch, go to bed.
    *both you and he will be tired. GO TO BED!
    *go to the toilet before you leave work. It’s one of the best things about putting your kid in care!
    *I changed out of work clothes before I left work so I could get down on the floor and play at daycare, and also so I could spend those precious first moments at home just being with him.
    *completely empty your car each night, bring the bags in, wash everything, re-pack the bags, put them back in the car. Have a separate lunch bag for breast milk and put it in the fridge and your car keys on top.
    *tell your Mum to come clean your house while you reconnect with your kid (or don’t they believe in housework either!)
    *if you have a crappy sleeper like I do, then enjoy the bliss that is not spending your whole day trying to get them to sleep.
    *SLEEP is important for the first two months. Everyone will be tired, everyone’s immune systems will be adjusting. Don’t sleep train in the first few months, and do WHATEVER IT TAKES for the whole family to sleep. For us, it mean the queen mattress on the floor, and baby in with us at first wake-up.
    *lay your clothes and breakfast out the night before. Makes a huge difference to the day.
    *if you are running late, send baby to daycare in jammies with a change of clothes. The kids think it is a really cool treat!

  59. I have a very attached daughter (now 3) who started daycare at 7 months. Many commenters have given great advice about what to expect and what helps. I just want to add that my daughter is very sensitive and somewhat inhibited with adults outside the family, and daycare has been very helpful with that. We still have some issues (she only wants Mommy to take her to the potty, but Mommy’s not at daycare), but it’s clear that she loves her teachers and that they help her to understand that there are safe people and places outside her home. It means the world to me to know that she’s not only safe, but that her teachers care for *and about* her every day and that she learns important social skills that I alone could not teach her. It really will be okay, even, in time, actually good.

  60. It’s also important to keep in mind that not every child feels anxiety about new situations/ transitioning to daycare or new care. My son has had to put up with a lot of transitions in his little life, and he doesn’t cry or fuss. He’s very independent and just runs from our arms to a new situation. This isn’t a sign he isn’t well-attached. On the contrary. Everyone was always telling stories about how difficult it was for their kids to transition and we were like, Umm he doesn’t even notice when we leave. My point is that there are many different kinds of attachment, and many different triggers for anxiety . Your child might love the new day care – new toys, new children, new environment. At the same time, I still find his transitions hard for *me* – I worry endlessly about how well he will adjust, will he be upset, does he miss his old friends, will the new provider love him etc etc etc. And he’s *always* fine. (I cried the first time he “spent the entire day with a STRANGER” – as I wailed it to my husband.) So it’s important not to let your own anxiety interfere with your child’s reactions. And of course parental confidence that whatever new situation will be fine is an important step to making it fine for the child as well.But word on the crankiness when he gets home. He still gets cranky; day-long group situations are exhausting for him because he’s high-octane (and he naps for at least two hours). We noticed an especially strong deterioration in his evening behavior when he started spending 8 hr blocks at his in-home day care. For us, it became all about snacks. Snacks and patience.

  61. I feel your pain for the lack of family support. Being a working parent is hard enough, but your family not supporting you is a nightmare. I’m a full-time working parent and I know it’s hard. The key (absolute KEY) is having a good, supportive childcare arrangement. Moxie is right, a good daycare becomes a supportive community for your family. Loving and engaged caregivers become another set of eyes and ears for your baby and a reassurance for you as a mom.As with many things with parenting, it will always be harder on you than on your baby. Your baby will cry at some point when you leave, but your caregivers (who deal with this situation *every*single*day*) will comfort him. You, however, will have to hide your tears and go to work. What worked well for me was starting day care part-time the week before I started working. That way my daughter had a chance to get to know the drill, I had a chance to practice dropping her off and walking away, and we had some time to work out issues before I started being employed. Now our caregiver is part of our family, our daughter LOVES playing with the other babies and things are great.
    Another bit of advice for once you start working, if you have the opportunity to visit your baby during your lunch break, or take the occasional afternoon off, go in late, etc. to just play with your child then do it. These little one-on-one mother-baby moments during the week do wonders for attachment and both of your well being.

  62. Jumping on the commenting wagon late, but I was in the same boat – my son went to day care at 1 year old when I resumed school. Granted he’s there only 3 days a week but Adriana’s description of her son sounds a lot like my own son, so I thought I’d chime in. Everyone has given great advice already so I’m just going to share my own experience. At age 1 he was still in the “baby room” and we quickly noticed that he was most attached to one person and they do try to foster that one-on-one relationship (each child is assigned a “key person” at my son’s day care). WE also noticed age-related regressions – which meant for the first 8 weeks or so he was GREAT there (some tears, but not a lot, when I dropped him off), and then for about 3 weeks it was screaming bloody murder. Then it was totally fine again for another few weeks before we went away for Christmas. After that, there were again spurts of being totally willing to be dropped off (and even saying hi to other kids) and total being clingy. Now he is 20 months and the hardest period was when he transitioned to the next class (for the 14-24 month olds). It took him about 3 weeks to adjust. But again, as soon as he identified the key person who was the most responsive to him, he was attached to her and he was willing to sit in her lap and get cuddles from her as I said goodbye.Even though it broke my heart to see him cry at day care, I think it has been a really positive experience for him. Because he is naturally passive and shy, I think it is really good for him to engage with other kids and to get used to interacting with people. Good luck!
    Good luck! It’s not easy but it’s ac

  63. Loads of great advice here, which I would just repeat. So I’ll just add my sympathy and commiseration as we’ve been there.DS is very attached, sensitive and cautious. He started daycare full time at 11 mos. It was hard. For him. For me. (Though I think for the most part the anticipation for me was worse – at 10 months he was still swaddled and not drinking from a bottle – eek!).
    It took him about 4 weeks to get to the point where he was OK with me leaving him and he didn’t cry a lot, and he would eat consistently for his educator. During that 4 weeks things were improving slowly but consistently. And I learned a lot about my kid. Lots of talking with the educators helped. And you can learn a lot from them (esp. since they have the reference of a whole bunch of other kids).
    As my guy is really sensitive and intuitive, I found that I really had to emphasize that to the educators if they already didn’t get it. So that meant asking them to advise me of any changes that would be happening in his routine so I could help him ease the transition, etc. I’ve figured out since about 11 months that my guy really responds to me telling him in advance what’s going to happen and explaining things to him. So you may find that it helps during your transition phase (and for other difficult times) to talk through what’s happening. Day after day, if need be.
    Now at 2 (and since about 13 or 14 months) he loves daycare and loves the interaction with the other kids and educators. He often doesn’t even say goodbye – too engrossed in what is going on.
    It does get better. Be good to yourself and trust your instincts.

  64. I struggled with this ENORMOUSLY. And the most consolation I took was that one of the best child development things that can happen is that a child learn that adults are loving, helpful, trustworthy people.Learning to trust in the world around you is important to be able to thrive…
    In a good daycare environment this should be a KEY factor and your child will benefit.

  65. Wow, my heart just pounding reading this, I also have to put my 11 month old in daycare, and I’m crying every time I think of it. I can’t sleep, can’t eat, I barley function and daily basis, not wanting next week to come so quickly. Tear

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