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How Do I Prepare My 2-Year-old for Daycare?

Discover essential tips to answer a common worry for parents: How do I prepare my 2-year-old for daycare? In this insightful article, read on to ensure a smooth transition and help your child thrive in their daycare experience.

Providing Quality Childcare Since 2012   Infants, Toddlers & Preschool  •  Daycare Centre

Taking your child to daycare for the first time is a huge family event, as it entails many developments: your little one leaves his familiar environment and must get used to a lot of new things, from being cared for by people outside the family and circle of friends to adapting to new rules and getting along with other children.

All these changes require a period of adaptation that can be longer or shorter.  In this article, we explore answers to your question: How do I prepare my 2-year-old for daycare?

Is 2 Years Old Too Early for Daycare?

For many experts, one year old is the optimal age for attending daycare. Although there is no barometer to indicate the right age for ALL children to go to daycare, there are signs to let you know if your little one is ready for this experience. 

If your child is independent enough, adjusts to routine and follows rules, he is on the right track for being ready for daycare.

How Long Does it Take for a 2-Year-Old to Adjust to Daycare?

How Long Does it Take for a 2-Year-Old to Adjust to Daycare

Working out how long your child will take to adjust is important for parents asking the question how do I prepare my 2-year-old for daycare? The adjustment can last from two weeks to two months, depending on the child’s personality. Some toddlers may experience fear when their parents are out of sight, dreading they will never see them again. Others need less time to get used to new situations and people and adapt to the new routine in their lives.

Since every child is unique, there is no universal adjustment time to daycare.

Is it Normal For a 2-Year-old to Cry at Daycare Drop-off?

The short answer is YES.

When they are born, babies feel closest to their mums, as they spend most of their time with them. Gradually, they become attached to their father and other members of their immediate family, and this closeness provides them with a sense of security and familiarity. Going to daycare involves being cared for by people not in the attachment circle of children. The good news is that the crying will stop as they get more accustomed to the daycare staff and environment.

How Do I Prepare My 2-Year-old for Daycare?

Before daycare begins, you can:

taking 2 year old to day care center

To help your child get acquainted with the daycare, visit the location with your child before the first day. Arrange for him to meet the teachers and other caretakers he will interact with, explore the facility, and watch the children have fun. This will enable him to learn a bit about the place and feel excited about coming here every day. Moreover, this visit may be an opportunity to observe what your child fears and help her address these fears by explaining how things will go in this new adventure.

For small children, doing the same things every day means predictability that inspires feelings of security and confidence. It is also essential to prepare your child for daycare by adjusting the morning routine, as this enables him to know beforehand what is going to happen and eases his potential state of anxiety.  

The new environment your toddler will navigate is an unfamiliar one. You can make this environment more familiar by setting up a few activity stations at home that you noticed during your visit to the centre, like a colouring area or a block table. 

Even if 2-year-olds don’t understand time as adults, they know if their mum came to pick them up quickly or not. If your little one has not spent more than one or two hours with somebody other than you, leaving him at daycare for eight hours from the beginning could increase his anxiety. Try starting for a shorter period, like four hours. 

Before enrolling your child in a daycare, check if there is the option of a gradual start: to leave the toddler for four hours in the first month and then switch to eight hours per day. This will make his transition and adjustment to daycare smoother. 

How Do I Prepare My 2-Year-old for Daycare During the First Weeks?

From day one in daycare, talk to your little one and explain that it is natural to experience different emotions. Name these emotions and use your example of a child going to daycare for the first time, focusing on how amazing it was to discover all the activities, children, and fun in that centre. 

Explain again how gentle the teachers there are and how they are the adults who will care for him and help him until you return. Highlight that you will return for him and use time references he can understand, like after the afternoon snack. Remind him that you will miss him very much too and think about him every second until you are together again.

toddler crying when go to day care center

A significant transition like going to daycare for the first time goes hand in hand with many emotions. Some toddlers may start to manifest their fear or anxiety on the ride to daycare or at the front gate of the daycare. No matter where and how he displays those emotions, keep calm and explain that you understand his frustration. Explain that he will feel better once he starts playing with children and does all the incredible activities there. 

Your child may cry for a minute or ten, have tantrums or a profound, silent sadness, but little by little, he will get used to daycare. Soon, his frustration and anxiety will turn into excitement and joy. And whilst you remain calm until he enters the daycare, you might cry after he is gone. For many parents, the first days and weeks of daycare can be difficult, with many emotions bursting out as soon as the child is out of sight. These are perfectly natural feelings for loving parents who care (and worry) about their children’s welfare. And just like your toddler will adjust to this new stage in his life, so will you.

Having an object that reminds your little one of home will make the transition smoother when troubleshooting how do I prepare my 2-year-old for daycare. From his favourite stuffed toy to a doll or blanket, a transitional object allows your toddler to feel safe while waiting for your return. Having the object with him throughout the day reminds him that he will stay in daycare only for a while, and then you will return and take him home. Some children see their favourite toys or objects as friends they talk to when encountering difficult or new situations. For example, a doll that your rather shy daughter can talk to about the anxiety she feels when having to say “Hi” in the “Morning Circle” in the first days of daycare may be the perfect companion to help her ease the burden of that emotion.

Create a goodbye ritual that makes your toddler feel comfortable with you leaving and him remaining in the daycare. Choose anything he wants, from a short role-play with a toy saying “bye-bye” to “kissing stamps” (kiss him all over his face) or “bear hugs” (hugs where you pretend to be a protective bear hugging their cub). Although the first days may be difficult, once your little one grows fond of your goodbye ritual, he will regulate his emotions better and calm himself more easily when you go. 

The essential factor to remember is: don’t sneak out! This can shake the confidence your toddler has in you and increase his level of separation anxiety and frustration. It could affect him throughout the day as instead of playing, he will only think about how you left without saying goodbye and fear you will not return. Instead, do the goodbye ritual, tell him when you will see him and leave without lingering by the door.

How Do I Prepare My 2-Year-old for Daycare Conclusion

As a parent, you feel most comfortable when your little ones are close to you. However, daycare is a necessary step in their life. Learning to trust people outside their immediate family and friends – daycare staff who will care for them, playing and connecting with children their age, following established rules, and acquiring new soft and hard skills are all valuable lessons that will promote the growth and development of your children.

We hope that this article has helped answer your question: how do I prepare my 2-year-old for daycare.

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Our Early Learning Centres

Our early childhood centre environments strongly reflects our inspiration – The Reggio Emilia philosophy, from Reggio Emilia, Italy.

We provide a creative and open ended environment that encourages infinite learning for the children and strong relationships between teachers, children and families.

The day’s routines are flexible. At the same time, care is taken to recognise and respect each child’s needs.

Playground at Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre childcare in Howick, Auckland
Child playing in BBELC - Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre Childcare (1)

Why Choose a Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre?

Here's what our parents say about our childcare centres

Come and visit one of our childcare centres and see for yourself why your child will love it

Talk to the Centre Manager, meet the team, see the natural outdoor play areas and educational rooms, learn about how we develop our programs and find out more about our unique approach to partnering with our families.

Our latest parent reviews from Google

Tanya Vester
Tanya Vester
Our sons attended Bright beginnings early leaning Centre and absolutely loved it. They attended Manuka and Kowhai rooms, and later also Pohutukawa room. The teachers in all three rooms were just SO lovely, caring, attentive and supported their learning journeys and communicated the children’s achievements with us. We are so thankful for the time our kids were able to spend there, and the kids made great memories for life. We highly recommend BBELC to anyone looking for a child care center. We had to leave due to moving overseas and will miss BBELC so much!!!
Sukhpreet Singh Mediratta
Sukhpreet Singh Mediratta
"I don't think I can express in words the gratitude I feel towards you all. My child, Amrin have learnt so much in your care that will stay with her for life. I believe their fondest memories of childhood will include many of you - I truly hope you are all extremely proud your efforts with our children. Thank you for all the wonderful support and care you have given to my daughter. This Centre is a very special place and she has grown so much in your nurturing, inspiring and challenging environment. You are really helping her to prepare for her school foundation." Actually, this is a second home for Amrin, she started her journey from BBELC, Auckland and will leave for school from here. Thanks to all the teachers, If I start typing the names, the list will be so long. In last especially I should not forget Nikita, who is so understanding and caring towards kids as well as families. Thank you with much love."
Anaru Pui
Anaru Pui
We've had our daughter Waikohu pui in the center for over 1 year now And she has Developed into such a beautiful kind person and has gained some great life skills and experiences thank you to all the teachers for there support and care with our baby girl making life alot easier knowing shes getting great education and Aroha (Love) from all the teachers at her Kura ( school ) thanks again ❤️ from the Pui whanau
Jagroop Kaur
Jagroop Kaur
Teachers are very kind and patient. Also they encourage children to learn in different indoor and outdoor activities. I am so pleased in POHUTUKAWA room the teacher do the school transition program, which is really helpful to the kids enter the primary school in the future. Thanks all teacher who support VIRASAT and other kids there quite well.
anne dela cruz
anne dela cruz
We have been with BBELC Hamilton since 2020 during the peak of pandemic and I never doubted to bring my children here knowing that they are on a safe place and the team are all aware of the best health and safety plan to ensure that everyone in the centre are safe. The centre is the BEST for me in terms of CLEANLINESS (the place os very tidy), SAFETY OF CHILDREN (only parents/caregivers can enter the premises on their pin coded door), FRIENDLY STAFF (you will be greeted by a very friendly receptionist, you can talk to the teachers about your concern with your child), OPEN DOOR POLICY (Manager’s door is open all times for parents for any concern or question), NUTRICIOUS FOOD for our kids, SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAM (table activities, book reading, sharing with others, simple literacy), MAT TIME IS THE BEST as the kids learn to socialize, listen to teachers, story telling, yoga, dance time, music time,etc. and they also held PARENTS TIME where we can chat with the teacher about our kids, meet other parents, share experiences and strategies, parents gets treat and gift on special occasion like mother’s day and father’s day that will definitely make your day as a parent. And lastly for few years now, my kids have enjoyed their Christmas party where they get gift and enjoy bouncy castle, it’s simple but the experience and memories will be lifetime. THANKS TO ALL THE STAFF AND TEACHERS OF BBELC Hamilton! KUDOS TO ALL YOUR HARDWORK AND DEDICATION. CHEERS TO MANY MORE YEARS OF SUCCESS! - DELA CRUZ Family ( Robb and Reuben)
I love BBELC and my child love it too. As parents ,my husband and I deeply appreciate the staff being friendly ,kind ,patient ,role models and caring .The educators work well with parents to achieve the children’s developmental goals , the manager Leonie and Teachers Mari, Kathryn, Summer and Emma really care about the children and very welcoming. The childcare is secure and this gives us peace of mind in knowing that our little ones are in good hands and safe . The classrooms are clean and nicely decorated. I highly recommend sending your child to this center. It’s become our second home.
BBELC is an awesome environment for my daughter to learn and grow through different types of activities. All the staffs are friendly, supportive and helpful. Highly recommended to all.
Neda Bolouri
Neda Bolouri
A safe, happy and caring place for our children.
Norvega Bantang
Norvega Bantang
Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre - Hamilton is like a second home to my 2 little girls. They are very supportive of the children’s early learning and individual development. The rooms are spacious, warm and cozy and provide different kinds of resources for the children to explore. My girls are always excited to go to kindy every morning. Since I have also recently become part of this centre, it’s good to know and see for myself how things work in the centre and how very passionate the staff are in looking after every child like they are family. As a parent, it gives me the peace of mind that my children are in good hands and are well taken cared of. Definitely made the right decision to enroll our children here.
Diana Villa-Ignacio
Diana Villa-Ignacio
BBELC is a wonderful centre which caters to quality care and learning of children. We take pride in our relationship with parents , whanau and children having positive environment, open communication, flexibility, catering to children needs and working alongside parent's aspiration for their children. Feel free to come and see our Hamilton centre. We will be happy to show you around and be part of our Bright Beginnings Family.

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