Back to school tips for baby

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These last few months have been tinged with an immense commotion: the birth of your son. Between unconditional love and worries, you have plunged into parenthood, with a new rhythm and new points of reference to seek and find. As soon as that dreamed and loved baby arrives, you already have to think about the type of nursery you want. Agathe Richard, childminder, early childhood educator and mother of two, offers you 10 tips to get your little ones back to school calmly and organized.

Whether you’re a new parent or not, we all want things to go as smoothly as we imagine. But once you’ve finished looking for daycare, now you have to think about going back to school. Everything seems very simple, on paper. But, like all stories, yours is unique, and not all experiences are the same. With an idealized view of fatherhood, the reality is sometimes surprising.

Young parents are often forced to rethink their demands, to take into account all the needs of their children. But also, to integrate their family imperatives, especially at the organizational level. This is exactly what we are faced with on a daily basis, when, as early childhood professionals, we accompany families at the heart of their parenthood. And you, parents, in this story, are preparing to accompany your son in his first steps, both literally and figuratively.

First steps, in a nursery or in a kindergarten

This is a moment commonly called: adaptation. It is an essential and transitional stage that consists of establishing the first bonds between the caregiver, the child and her family. But today there is less and less talk of adaptation, which refers more to a functioning in which the child had to “adapt” to her new environment. However, it is also the structure that must be adapted to the needs of the child, within the limits of organizational possibilities. That is why we now speak of “familiarization”.

I have observed that for some children (and their parents) it can be a period of legitimate anxiety, crying and agitation, in which an active, empathic and benevolent listening posture seems absolutely necessary.

babies in a nursery

Here are some keys, so that you and your baby can return to school with peace of mind

1. Positivity and not blame

Our brain is naturally programmed to retain only the negative. Focusing on the positive sometimes requires a bit of mental gymnastics that is important to practice in order to cultivate it, and thus pass it on to the baby! Whether resuming your activity is an option or an obligation, it is imperative that you turn OFF. So don’t feel guilty, and don’t forget that to be nice to your child, you have to be nice to yourself. No, you are not leaving your baby in the hands of strangers, but your fears and anxieties are legitimate.

In addition, it is common to read that there is an ideal age to trust your baby. This information can cause anxiety for both the parents and the baby. Each child is different and you will not be able to anticipate her reactions, whatever the period or age at which the first separation occurs.

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2. Flexibility and adaptability

If you can, of course. Each caregiver or foster institution has its own way of working. The familiarization period always lasts one or two weeks on average. Therefore, their availability is required during the first week, so it is preferable to carry out this period before the parents return to work. Prolonging the familiarization period can provide more sweetness when necessary, while adapting to the child’s rhythm in the process of accepting foster care and thus living the separation better.
But the reality is there, and each family does what it can within its organizational limitations, the professional knows it, and nothing happens, once again, don’t feel guilty!

baby playing on the floor

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3. Use common sense

We can read everywhere that we must trust. But can we blindly trust when she is the apple of our eye? The answer is definitely no. And early childhood professionals know it. And the familiarization period is not just for the baby, no. It is also there so that you, the parents, can project yourselves little by little and lay the foundations for a relationship of trust. The goal is to make foster care a meeting, a journey, a triangular relationship, to work together in the construction of the child, respecting the rhythm of each one: child, parents, professional. Do not forget that you are going to entrust your baby to trained and qualified personnel, and that these elements, which are a guarantee of quality, must be reassuring.

4. Don’t panic.

Does your baby sleep in a crib and the nursery or nursery school only has beds on the floor? Above all, do not alter their habits. Young children are amazing and their ability to adapt is highly developed. Trust them, they know how to adapt very well from one environment to another.

We must also forget about the “good habits”, or the cessation of the practice that is often heard, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. Foster care, whatever it may be, does not rhyme with the introduction of the bottle. No, there are alternatives, and as we have seen before, it is not necessary to revolutionize the baby’s habits, the caregivers will adapt. Cup, glass, jug, although these alternatives and new containers are appearing little by little, do not hesitate to express your wishes, because nothing is worse for a mother than being forced to stop breastfeeding. And once again, trust him, just because he won’t accept another container other than the breast with you doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same once accepted.

baby in a highchair to eat

5. Do not hesitate to communicate

If you feel the need, don’t hesitate to call the babysitter or daycare. Remember to take note of all your baby’s habits, communicate them and ask all the questions you want. At worst, you risk coming off as an invested and caring parent.

6. Verbalize

The reflex to adopt systematically: verbalize what is going to happen, accompany the child in their emotions, reassure, but also encourage, value, to reinforce their self-esteem. Some things to apply without moderation, during a period of separation… or not: help him to know and name his emotions and respect them, tell him that you love him as much as you want, believe in him and in his abilities.

Above all, verbalize EVERYTHING, and never leave without saying goodbye. Thinking of protecting their child, many parents have the habit of sneaking away, without saying goodbye to their little one. The risk is that this can lead to misunderstanding, anxiety and apprehension. Also in this case it makes sense to create a routine. Why not turn the child into an actor of separation, offering to say goodbye through the window or accompanying him to the door? Although the child expresses his discontent by shouting or crying, do not forget that it is his only means of expression, and that it is important to accompany him in her emotions, reassuring him and accepting her feelings.

7. Observe and select a transient object

You can choose a stuffed animal, with or without the child, if the child is very young. The transitory object is very important because it allows the child to feel calm and safe in the absence of his parents by maintaining the link between home and daycare. The transient object can often be described as a “blanket.” However, it may be an object or toy that your child loves during this time, or one that he just can’t do without. The fact of investing in a transitory object is a marker that makes the child feel safe in her movements in or towards her new space. It can also be a diaper or a t-shirt with the scent of one or both parents.

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a little girl with her teddy

8. Use literature adapted to the baby’s age

One of the baby’s first skills is listening, and the book is a wonderful and necessary tool for the cognitive development of the little one, but also to face separations and reunions, so why deprive yourself? Various adapted books can be used from a very young age.

9. Landmarks, rituals and regularity

A milestone is the set of rituals for the day. Rituals are predictable moments that allow the child to anticipate an event. Rituals allow children to orient themselves in time and space. Rituals therefore provide children with reference points and are important during transitions, such as moving from home to daycare. They help anticipate these transitions, thanks to their regularity. For example, preparing or checking the contents of a symbolic “carry bag” between home and daycare each morning. The more predictable a child’s daily routine is, the more secure he or she will feel.

Indeed, in the face of the unexpected, we feel uncomfortable, which we do not want for our little one. Therefore, it is time to introduce a nightly story, if it has not already been done, or a morning ritual, specific for leaving the nursery, and one reserved for the weekend.

The child is a being in formation, it is built on the bonds that it maintains at the beginning with its relatives, parents and family. Early childhood professionals are there and have been trained for this: to accompany the child during a period in which he sometimes separates for the first time, develops and builds his personality, and we hope that these little keys will help you to tackle this transition with total serenity.


Agathe Richard

Agathe Richard is a nursery assistant and early childhood educator. She holds a state diploma as a childcare assistant and later as an early childhood educator. Agathe discovered the world of early childhood at a very young age, on the one hand, through her atypical personal experience as a mother at the age of 15, and 12 years later, at 27. On the other hand, through experience her professional. She has observed, progressed, and opened her eyes to the importance of as individualized care as possible, a notion that she quickly placed as a guiding principle in her practice. After the arrival of her second daughter last December, her life took a new turn and she decided to embark on the extraordinary adventure of working as a childminder. She now finds a good balance between her personal and professional life.