Strategies for transitions at the beginning of the day

Here are some strategies that can make the beginning of the day easier for you and your baby:

• Do whatever you can the night before to save yourself time and hassle in the morning. Pack the bag you carry to the office, as well as your baby's supplies for child care. Check for missing buttons, broken zippers, gloves, and so on, as you set out clothes for yourself and the baby to avoid last-minute changes in the morning.

• Try to spend at least a few minutes at the child care provider's home or center in the morning helping your baby say hello to her caregiver. You'll feel better knowing your baby is settled before you leave for work.

• Help the caregiver maintain routines. Bring your baby's favorite blanket from home. Tell the caregiver how you help your baby go to sleep (by rubbing her back and singing a particular song, for example). Explain that your baby likes you to gently tickle her tummy as you change her diaper (or whatever unique things you do to get your baby through fussy times). By helping the caregiver provide continuity, you are helping your baby feel safe and secure in child care.

• Keep your child's caregiver informed about your baby. Information you share about how she slept, whether she had breakfast, and if there are any changes in your home routine (do you have company? is someone sick?) will help the caregiver meet your baby's special needs during the day. For example, if she woke up earlier than usual, the caregiver can watch to see if she needs an early nap. If you have questions or concerns you may not have time to discuss in the morning rush, arrange with the caregiver to talk on the phone later in the day or plan a time for a meeting.

• Develop your own goodbye ritual. Following the same pattern each morning—singing a goodbye song or giving three kisses, will, over time, give your child the reassurance of knowing what to expect.

• Give your child's caregiver a cue that you are leaving a few minutes before you go. That way she can be available to be with your baby when you say goodbye.

• Once you have said goodbye, leave promptly. Showing ambivalence will undermine the message to your baby that she will be safe and fine without you.

• Most important, never sneak out. Say goodbye, even if your infant is too young to understand what the word means. You are telling her she can count on you to let her know when you will leave. That way she will never have to worry that you are suddenly going to disappear. Tell her that you will see her later, after her snack, or her nap, or whatever. She may not understand, but your calm voice will reassure her.

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