Transition times are tough

The start and finish of the day are transition times, which are often difficult because they are times of change. On the practical side, there never seems to be enough time for all the things you need to do to get both of you ready and out the door. To complicate things, because your infant lives totally in the here and now, it often feels as if he is sabotaging your best efforts to be organized. For him, smearing oatmeal is part of eating breakfast. He squirms and twists when you try to put on his snowsuit because he doesn't like to be confined. He doesn't see how side-swiping your freshly pressed suit with squished banana can throw off your entire morning schedule or that his protests about getting dressed when it's time to go home make the late afternoon harder for everyone.

On the feeling side, saying "hello" and "goodbye" to people we love is a complex human interaction that often evokes deep feelings, which may include anger, sadness, joy, excitement, and guilt.

Your baby also has to make those changes, going back and forth between the people who love and take care of him. This is harder for him at some stages of his life than others. Between six and nine months, your baby has become attached to you and knows that you are going away. Sometimes, he will cry—and cry hard— which is a natural response when someone we love says goodbye. This is a stage that shows a new awareness, and his crying when you leave is evidence of progressive development. In time, he will develop the ability to picture you when you are away. He will acquire a sense of time that will help him understand when you will be returning. Meanwhile, it's important for you and his caregiver to acknowledge his feelings. He's letting you know what he's feeling, and feelings aren't so overwhelming when you can tell someone about them and have them accepted. Most parents feel very sad when they walk out on a crying child. However, almost all babies stop crying within a few minutes. (It may make you feel better to call once you get to work to see that this is true for your child.)

Building bridges between home and child care can make your baby's transition from one to the other much easier. The more connected his two worlds are, the more secure he will feel in both. You can help connect them by sharing information with his caregiver and by developing rituals that mark the transitions, so that your baby learns what to expect as he moves between those two worlds.

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