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Settling your child in the nursery

There's a rite of passage in the journey through parenthood that can cause mums and dads no end of anxiety - placing our child into the care of others when you return to work. Even the most easy-going parent can find the whole experience quite heart-wrenching, and - as is often the way with these things - our stress can rub off on our children, making an otherwise adaptable child suddenly resistant to change.

The tips below are designed to make the transition from home to childcare as smooth-running as possible for your child...and you! Of course the advice will vary slightly depending on the age of your child.

1. Be positive about the change

Even very little children are incredibly intuitive and can pick up on adult stresses and anxieties. So if you've been feeling a little unsettled about your imminent return to work your child may gain an awareness that 'mummy is worried about something'. So in the run-up to the big day it's important to try and keep a positive mindset to avoid transferring stress onto your child.

2. Talk to your child about starting nursery

Be open with your child about what will be happening soon and the new change to their routine. Little children like the security of routine so it's important to prepare them by chatting with your child about their new nursery and giving them helpful reference points.

3. Visit the nursery with your child

We have a settling policy which, once you sign up, we will share with you. The time spent in nursery is for you to get a proper feel for what a normal day is like, the routines that are followed and the activities that are on offer. You can also take this opportunity to share information about your child with their keyworker; their interests, likes and dislikes, special words, preferred foods, favourite toys, routines they like to follow, etc.

4. Take your cues from the nursery

We will understand the emotional you may be experiencing as you prepare to leave your little one to return to work. We have lots of experience of looking after children that find the transition difficult, and we know how to approach the challenge of separation anxiety. Try and trust your key worker and remember we are childcare experts!

5. Use comforters if necessary

That could be a dummy, a 'blankie' or a favourite cuddly toy. Any familiar reference from home can help assure your child during the early days of settling into nursery.

6. Keep your goodbyes as brief as possible

Saying goodbye at the nursery can be difficult for parents. But it's really important to handle your departure in the right way - a 'clean break' where your child is clear about what is happening is far more preferable to spinning things out and confusing your child. Therefore, we always encourage parents to say goodbye before they leave their child.

7. Tears are normal

It's natural for your child to shed a tear or two while they find there place within the nursery and create a bond with their keyperson. Or you may find that just when you thought everything was starting to fall into place your child regresses and becomes tearful about drop-off for no apparent reason. But tears are just a normal form of expression for your child and do not necessarily indicate that there's a problem you need to follow up.

8. Don't underestimate tiredness

The settling-in period will probably be an incredibly tiring experience for your child. With a new environment to get used to, and lots of new people to get to know, there's lots for them to take on so try not to pack too many other activities or busy weekends into your schedule for a few weeks.

9. Keep updated on your child's progress

Once you've negotiated those tricky early days it's still a good idea to keep up your communication with the nursery - this helps you to feel in the loop and aware of any issues or developments relating to your child.

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