Kid starting daycare
August 6, 2014 3:09 AM   Subscribe

Should we start daycare along with everybody else or wait for other kids to finish their transition period first, just because we can?

Our kid is 16 months old and will be starting daycare in September. Our grandparents have been the main babysitters so far. There will be a group of 5 to 10 kids starting with him and a couple of daycare "pros", kids who started going to daycare at some point in the previous 6 months. This daycare offers a "summer vacation" option, which means you can take the kid out of daycare for up to one month from June to October and you only pay a nominal fee for them to hold your kid's place in the group. Considering we have free babysitter services, should we take advantage of this option and start daycare in October (instead of September) when everybody else has already adjusted?

I'm thinking that it would be easier on kiddo to not be among a dozen crying toddlers who are leaving their mommies for the first time. But maybe he'd do better if he goes through the same thing along with the rest of the group?

Also, I'm an introvert and would like to have good relationship with the rest of the parents, so I'm a little worried I'll miss those first contacts. But it's not like I'll be there to make those connections, because his grandma will be taking him to daycare and spending time with him there while he gradually adjusts. (I can't take much time off work for this, besides we've been told it's better if it's someone he's not as attached to.)

So what would you suggest? Do as everyone else does (= start daycare on the first "official" day) or be a special snowflake (= wait for another month)?

Bonus question: Do we do nap training now or leave that to the daycare? He falls asleep easily, but is used to being carried (while walking) to fall asleep - but just for naps and it takes 2 - 3 minutes tops. In the evening, we put him in his crib, say goodnight and that's it, so he definitely knows how to fall asleep by himself. I can devote a week or two to nap training, but I'm not sure if it's necessary. Will it be easier for him if we do nap training before he starts daycare?
posted by gakiko to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They'll do their own thing for nap. Don't worry about it. And in my experience, people don't really seriously befriend other parents at daycare. It is like hi at drop-off.
posted by k8t at 5:14 AM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Are the 5-10 new kids all in the same age group and in the same room as your son? If so I would recommend waiting the extra month. I work in child care and can not imagine that many new children starting at once. It's absolutely mind boggling to me that this would occur in a toddler room. The tears, the screaming, the horror. I understand having 5-10 kindergarten kids start at once, but even then they usually stagger the first days.

I don't think the extra month will hurt your chances of having good relationships with the other parents.

Will the daycare use a crib or a cot? It might be helpful to have him comfortable sleeping without being in a crib when he starts, but it's not absolutely necessary. I find a lot of kids who are not used to sleeping on a cot will go with the flow when they see that all the other kids are sleeping on cots.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 5:25 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

The more time your child spends with you and the grandparents the better. Start in October.
posted by katypickle at 5:26 AM on August 6, 2014

I would talk to the daycare staff. They probably have a lot of experience with this (it sounds like it's a "school year" type program?) and can advise you. From a logical point of view I'd advise you to wait (save some money, less chaos at daycare), but really I think it could be fine. It may actually be easier to get the "chaos" over all at once for everyone, although he's awfully little and I doubt it matters either way.

Regarding naps, do not worry about trying to do anything. Most (all?) kids are able to pretty easily accept different routines at daycare vs home, and I've been shocked by how fast our daycare gets new kids all on the same schedule. Peer pressure is really a good thing in this circumstance.
posted by chocotaco at 6:46 AM on August 6, 2014

My kid loves daycare. He started at 17 months and had exactly zero moments of drama about drop offs - it was basically "could you stop distracting me from these new toys with your goodbyes now?" I say this because I think your "room full of toddlers crying for a month" scenario is less likely than you think. Many kids do very well right from the start; others have a few rough mornings and then come around; a tiny minority of kids have more difficulty with this. If it were me, I'd save the "vacation" option to take an actual vacation.
posted by judith at 7:28 AM on August 6, 2014

My kid stayed with grandma his first year and started daycare at 15mos. Our criteria for starting him was the lack of age-appropriate stimulation he was getting at home with grandma. Daycare is a "yes" environment where everything is available to be touched and explored. There were a lot of "no's" in my son's day, so we decided to make the switch.

If you feel like his day-to-day is good, no harm in holding him a month or so and taking advantage of the financial boon.

If you feel like his daily environment is in any way detrimental, or just not stimulating enough, no sense in waiting, start him now.

It sounds like your kid is a good napper/sleeper, so I think the nap stuff will work itself out in the first week, regardless of when you start. No need to worry about training.

As for socializing with the other parents - hubby and I are very focused on building a community. We spent a lot of time trying to arrange park days and playdates, but in our experience the parents at our daycare, who all work fulltime, didn't give a whit about connecting with us until well after the kids turned two. I think they didn't see the point while the kids were still doing parallel play. They began getting more into socializing around the time the 2-year birthday parties started happening. We got invited to a lot of the 2-year parties probably because we'd reached out before, but we were pretty much the only school friends at most of those parties for a while. Now that the 3-year birthday parties have started happening, we're starting to see more school friends at the parties. In other words, you've got some time.

Focus your decision on where your kid will get the best experience for growth and learning.
posted by vignettist at 7:44 AM on August 6, 2014

I don't think that month will make a difference to the kid or your social life with the other parents. Neither are so precarious. It might be easier for the teachers. And it might be harder for grandma. I'd probably ask grandma.

I wouldn't bother nap training. The environment is so different at school compared to home. My kid sleeps so much easier at daycare because he is exhausted from climbing, jumping, running, and socializing at every moment.

Hope it goes well!
posted by pizzazz at 10:41 AM on August 6, 2014

I have totally made friends with other parents from the daycare, but I don't think the first month is critical in any way. Our daycare might be different in that is part of a larger community organization, so there is chance for socialization outside of daycare time as well.

I agree with others that you should do what is best for you as far as when to start, it won't make much perceptible difference to your child, I'd guess.
posted by freezer cake at 10:58 AM on August 6, 2014

I don't think it matters. All of the kids in my son's daycare started at different times. Anecdotally, every time a new kid starts in my son's group, they report to me that he gives them a hug or holds their hand and shows them around (yes, I'm kvelling). If your daycare is as good as mine, your child will be with some pretty socialized and friendly kids.
posted by amro at 12:25 PM on August 6, 2014

Start in October.

I remember when my daughter started day care. She hated it and cried every day for a month, they were starting to wonder if she would stop (she did, and we had 3.5 uneventful years after the initial trauma).

It may be your child that needs the special attention getting started. Best to take the staggered entry to get a shot at that time if you need it.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:51 PM on August 6, 2014

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