If you're a new parent who needs to return to work, you're probably wondering how your baby is going to handle the separation. Many new parents find that around the time they're returning to work is when their baby starts showing signs of separation anxiety. Although many experts say that separation anxiety doesn't begin until around eight months of age, it's not uncommon for parents to report that their babies show clear preferences toward their primary caregivers at much earlier ages. How can you make sure that your baby has an easy transition to a new childcare routine? Take a look at some tips that can help.
Don't try to slip out of the daycare facility unnoticed while your baby is distracted. It's an understandable impulse; you're hoping that maybe your baby won't realize that you've left, or that by the time they do, they'll be comfortable in their new surroundings. But the truth is, pulling a disappearing act can increase your baby's separation anxiety instead of reducing it. As far as your baby knows, you've suddenly disappeared without a trace, and they have no way of knowing when it might happen again.
Instead, make it a point to wave to your little one and say "goodbye" or "see you later" in a cheerful voice as you leave. Your baby may not understand the words, but your tone will help reassure them that nothing scary is happening. They may still cry as you leave, but eventually, they'll recognize your goodbye ritual and realize that you always come back.
If at all possible, spend some time gradually working up to being gone for the length of a whole work day. You may want to start your infant in daycare a week or so before you actually return to work. That way you can start slowly—perhaps leaving your baby for only an hour or so the first day, then gradually increasing the time span—rather than jumping right into full-day childcare.
Make Use of Comfort Objects
If your baby has a preference for a particular blanket or toy, bring it with you when you drop them off at daycare. It may not prevent them from crying as you leave, but there's a good chance that a comfort object will help to distract them once you're gone, cutting short the amount of time that your baby spends crying.
It can be tough to stay positive when your baby doesn't want you to leave and you don't want to go, but it's important to try. If you're confident and positive, your baby will feel less anxious. Babies are good at picking up their parents' emotions, and they can tell when you're faking it, so you want to make sure that you actually feel positive.
Take your time investigating your childcare options and make sure that you're happy with your choice. If you don't feel ready to return to work yourself, look into delaying your return for a week or two if possible. Do whatever you can to make sure that when you do drop your baby off at daycare, you feel as good about it as you possibly can.
For more information, contact a childcare facility like Kids Country Club.