7 Tips for Separation Anxiety and Childcare
Separation Anxiety can occur when a baby, toddler or child starts some form of care, or schooling, they also may start to cry and protest after they’ve been going to childcare for a while and then suddenly they don’t want to go any more.
In my experience as a Child Carer and as a Nanny, and now as a mother, here are some tips that might help:
- Be confident. Firstly be sure that you do trust the people you are leaving your child with, look around and find something you are totally happy with, so while you might feel stressed for your child, or even anxious yourself leaving them for the first time, try to be calm and confident, your child will respond to your emotions. So if you are fearful and anxious – they are more likely to be fearful and anxious.
- Start gradually. If it is at all possible, start with a few visits where you don’t leave, then a few visits that are only a few hours, rather than starting day 1 with a whole day in care without you in a strange place.
- Provide all yours “tools”. If baby takes a dummy, bring a dummy – even if they only take it occasionally, if they are swaddled for sleep supply your own swaddle wraps even if the centre provides the linen. If they have a comforter, a treasured toy, a favourite bottle, even a favourite outfit for an older toddler or pre-schooler to make day care or kindy days special, put them all in the day care bag and explain what they are.
- Bring a photo. Seeing photos of mum or dad while in care can help calm a toddler or child, put it in a frame that they will be able to hold on to if they want to cuddle your picture to help them calm down.
- Help the carers bond. The more they know about your child, the easier it is for them to start to form a bond with your child. If your baby likes to be held in a particular way (some babies prefer to be cradled and rocked, and others prefer to be held up over the shoulder and patted) or if you child is older and really into a particular topic – like dinosaurs, or a tv character, if the carer can then approach your child and try to relate to their interests, this can help the carer form a bond, which will help with separation anxiety. If you “baby wear” at home, the carers may be happy to use your carrier if you supply one.
- Communicate with the carers. This can be good not only for just sharing relevant information, but also if your child sees you talking with the carers, you are showing your child that this person is something you trust and know. This can help your child be more comfortable with them.
- Time. It takes time. Even with the best carers, and doing all the “right” things, some times it may take a while for your child to get comfortable and adjust to being with someone else. If it feels like it is taking too long for your baby or child to settle in, maybe discuss new strategies with the carers.
And if its not working out and its causing you, your baby, your family a lot of stress and worry, you may want to consider your alternatives, can you find another mode of child care – would family day care suit better? Can family help out? Can you swap baby sitting hours with someone else? Good luck!