How to Prepare Your Toddler for Day Care

21 April 2023

The first day of day care can be difficult for your toddler… and you. From the moment you tell your toddler they are going to be starting day care, to when you drop them off at the door, you may face some challenges with how your toddler reacts. Avoiding these setbacks and making the transition to day care as simple as possible is every parent’s dream! To help make this possible, we have compiled our best tips for getting your toddler prepared and excited for their first day of day care (which will help prepare you too!).

Gather Information To Give The Carers

When your toddler is starting day care, you may start to worry just as much, and maybe more, than your toddler. This is natural, as you’re giving your little one to another person who you don’t know for the first time, and they become responsible for them during the work day. The best thing you can do to avoid this anxiety is prepare information to give to the carers and talk them through the information before your toddler’s first day.

There is the information that you should 100% be giving a day care like medical history, allergy warnings, immunisation records, and other important documents they will usually ask for, but there is other information you can give too. Your toddler may have emotional and social preferences, certain toys they prefer to play with, personal interests that can help carers engage with them, and more. Giving this information over to the day care workers can help ease your mind while also helping to ensure your toddler has a great experience.

Start Practicing The Centre’s Routine At Home

Toddlers thrive with routine, but when your toddler starts day care, they will be thrown into a whole new routine which they may not react well to at first. Trying to replicate the routine your toddler will experience in the day care at home can help them prepare and become more comfortable with it. To find out the routine, you can simply ask one of the day care workers to send you their daily schedule. Adjusting the time your toddler eats, naps and plays based on when they would be doing these activities at the day care can help familiarise them with the routine.

Another way to make the transition to day care a bit easier on your toddler is to implement a routine for getting ready in the morning that would be similar to the routine you’ll start once day care begins. Waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, and pretending to leave the house at the usual time that they would be when they start day care (or actually leaving to do your errands that day) can help them get used to a sometimes more rushed and structured routine than when they stay home all day.

Read Stories About Day Care & Making Friends

Your toddler may be worrying about going to a new place with people they don’t know. This can be daunting for anyone, not just toddlers, so helping them prepare for interacting with new people in a new place is essential. Reading stories to your toddler about day care or telling them stories about other children who went to day care when they were a toddler is a great way to get them familiar with the idea of day care and new friends. These stories can also help them get excited for all the new and exciting activities they’ll get to do daily.

You can also get them familiar with meeting new people by encouraging them to talk to new people when you’re out and about, like saying hello to the workers at a supermarket or joining other children at the playground. Getting some practice in with meeting new friends can help them feel more comfortable going up to other children at the day care.

Take Advantage Of Orientation Days

Familiarity is important for toddlers. New places can scare them, so helping your toddler to become comfortable in a space is helpful for their emotional well-being. Consider taking your toddler to orientation days at the day care and being with them as they explore the new place. You can help them find their way around the classroom, meet the carers with them, and listen to how they feel about the day care. How they react to the orientation day can help you understand the anxieties they may have, so you can start working on them before you drop them off on the first day!

Get Everything Organised In Advance

The morning of the first day of day care can be difficult for your toddler, so preparing and organising as much as you can the night before can make a real difference to how everything runs in the morning. Making sure that your toddler gets a healthy dinner and a good night’s sleep the night before is important, as you want them feeling their best for the big day. You can also pack their bags ahead of time, including spare clothes, paperwork, medicine, nappies, etc. Also packing them things like their favourite toy, blanket or book can help them find comfort in an uncomfortable place.

Be Prepared For The Drop Off

You’ve gotten your toddler out of bed, they’re dressed and have eaten breakfast, and now you and your toddler are in the car on the way to the day care. It’s getting to the part that no parents look forward to: the drop off. Some toddlers will be excited and may go right in without a fuss, while others may become nervous or scared when you start to leave. To help with the latter, here are some tips:

  • Sing along to their favourite songs in the car on the way to day care
  • Make sure they have their favourite toy, as it may help calm them down
  • Try making the goodbye as short as possible, as the longer you hang around, the worse it’ll get
  • When you’re saying goodbye, make sure you reassure your little one that you’ll be back soon to get them
  • Leave them with a carer, so you know that they’ll get help to calm down, instead of leaving them amongst other the children


Starting day care can be daunting for your toddler and yourself. Creating plans for an easier transition is essential to making the start of day care as smooth as possible. With the above tips and tricks, we hope your little one’s first day of day care goes well and it soon becomes a simple part of your daily routine.

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