How Long Does It Take a Child to Like Daycare?

When it comes to daycare dropoff, the parents are often more anxious than the children. But once children know that daycare means separation from their parents, there may be meltdowns that tug at your heartstrings. 

If your child has a hard time at dropoff, you might be wondering how long it will take your toddler or child to like daycare. 

The good news is children quickly adapt to changes in their routine and learn to love daycare, even if they don’t like it at first.

How Long Does It Take an Infant to Adjust to Daycare?

Children under 12 months take a very short time to adapt to daycare because they are still learning about the people and places around them. Since nothing is set in stone, they are malleable to caretakers. 

It’s often harder for parents than babies at this age to be separated! But, once you see your baby enjoying daycare, it gets easier to leave your baby with their caregiver.

How Long Does It Take a Toddler to Adjust to Daycare?

Children between one and three years of age are more aware of their environment and daily routine. Dropoff at this age can be confusing for children and sobering for parents. 

There is a great deal of variability in how long it takes a toddler to like daycare and not have meltdowns at dropoff. 

  • 1 year old: It can take up to two weeks of daily dropoffs for a child to not cry when leaving a parent. If your child is on a part-time schedule, it may take longer.
  • 2 years old: A child this age will take two to three weeks to adjust to drop off.
  • 3 years old: Children switching daycares may only take a day or two to adjust, but a child who has never been in daycare before may take up to a month to feel comfortable at drop-off.

How Long Does It Take a Pre-K Child to Adjust to Daycare?

Perhaps surprisingly, four-year-olds may take the longest to fully adjust to a daycare environment. This is true whether they are switching daycares or starting daycare for the first time. 

Four-year-olds may have the hardest time with a new daycare routine because they’re old enough to have big feelings about their change of environment. This is understandable even for adults–it is normal to feel anxious for a few weeks or months when starting a new job or class.

Similarly, four-year-olds can take three to six months to feel at home in their new daycare setting. It takes time to learn new routines, make new friends, and discover their favorite things in their classroom. 

How to Help a Child Adjust to Daycare

Coping skills will vary depending on the age of the child. Here are some tips for helping children overcome anxiety at dropoff:

  • Leave a favorite lovey or blanket with your child. For babies, it’s helpful if the blanket has the parent’s scent or if they otherwise associate the blanket with the parent (e.g. rocking with the blanket before bedtime). Older children can keep a lovey or toy from home in their cubby to use at naptime.
  • Parents should be compassionate at dropoff but not waffle when it is time to leave. Give reassuring affection or come up with a fun dropoff handshake, but then leave promptly. This helps your child know they can’t pull you back by throwing a tantrum.
  • Consider rewarding older children if they don’t throw a tantrum at dropoff 

Dropoff at Crestwood Preschool Academy

At Crestwood Preschool Academy, we know that dropoff can be hard. We have compassionate and supportive staff to help children and parents alike transition to their daycare routine. Our teachers know how to quickly engage children in their classroom activities, find new friends, and become acclimated to their new routine as quickly as possible.

Crestwood Preschool Academy is proud to offer an outstanding educational and fun curriculum that prepares your child for kindergarten per state academic standards.

Contact Crestwood Preschool Academy today if you’re looking to give your child a head start in school!

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