5 Tips From an Infant Room Teacher: Preparing for the First Week at Daycare


Taking care of a baby is hard work. No doubt about it.

Frequent feedings. Frequent naps. Figuring out how to get your baby to actually take a nap... not in your arms. Frequent smelly poopy diaper changes. Frequent wardrobe changes when your baby pees on you while you are changing his diaper. Snuggling... while walking around bouncing... while shooshing... or singing... when nothing seems to make your baby content.

Taking care of a baby is really hard work.

Now, add a few more babies to the mix (like, eight babies total), and put them all in one room, with two adults. Dang, I can't imagine how quickly my sanity would go out the window.

Infant room teachers are miracle workers in my eyes. I mean, like, real miracle workers. Snuggling babies all day sounded dreamy, until it didn't.

These teachers really know their stuff. Especially when it comes to leaving your baby at daycare for the first time. This is a super stressful time for parents (and sometimes babies).

So, I asked Infant Room teacher Kristy Barnhill for some of the best tips she could offer. Here's what she had to say.

#1 Getting Baby to Take a Bottle

Try to transition your baby to a consistent feeding schedule before returning to work. Most babies will always listen to their tummy clock and eat when it's time to be fed.

Some babies have a hard time taking a bottle when there is a lot of activity and noise around them. If it is quiet and relaxing at home when you feed your baby, he or she will be used to that. If your baby will not eat in the infant room where there is noise from daily activities, we will ask another teacher to come in and sit with the other babies while we take your baby to a calmer and quieter area (like at home) and offer a feeding there. This is helpful for many babies.

Some babies are just not comfortable with the bottle itself. Try different brands of bottles or even different flows of nipples. I have had a lot of success with the Medela Bottles for breast fed infants.

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#2 Getting Baby to Sleep in a Crib

Some babies only want to sleep while being held in warm and loving arms. Anyway, who doesn't want to cuddle a sleeping baby?

Other babies like to sleep while in a swing.

However, many states (including ours here in Tennessee) require that babies sleep in cribs and on their back in order to reduce the risk of SIDS. The best way to help a baby accept sleeping in a crib is to continuously to offer it to her. We will lay your baby in her crib each time she sleeps and soothe her to try and help with a smooth transition.

Additionally, many states mandate that a baby is not to be swaddled or placed in a crib with a blanket while at daycare. We can however use sleep sacks and the babies love them.

I recommend the Zipadee Zips sleep sacks.

#3 The Babies Never Cry, But the Moms Always Do

Sometimes older babies have a harder time transitioning into child care and separating from their mothers (separation anxiety can start for some babies around 6 months of age). However, the younger your baby is, the more comfortable she will be transitioning to daycare.

During your final week of maternity leave, consider starting your baby with half days at daycare. This can help ease both the parents and the baby into the new routine.

#4 Hardest Transition for Babies is Different Than the Hardest Transition for Parents

The hardest transition for babies is usually the excitement and noise. It is a busy day in the infant room, and it can sometimes be a tad overwhelming for a baby who is getting used to the noise and business of the other babies in the room.

The hardest transition for parents is most certainly leaving your baby in the hands of someone new. You have been caring for your baby since her first breath and you know exactly what your baby needs. Leaving your baby to return to work can be a very emotional experience.

To help ease the pain of a mother's weary heart...

Some daycares offer live-streaming webcams which allow you to check-in on your baby throughout the day. If you work fairly close and can slip away during your lunch, consider popping in for some mid-day snuggles. If neither of those are options, you can always call and speak with your baby's teacher and to find out what and how your baby is doing. You'd be surprised how much peace of mind a quick phone check-in can offer.

#5 Teachers Love Starbucks

A few final thoughts on preparing for your baby's first days at daycare...

Please, please, label all of your baby's belongings.

Teachers love Starbucks, hint, hint!

Germs are everywhere, and every cleaner in the world only kills 99.99% of germs, so there's always that one little bugger (that .01%) that will not go away. We work very hard to disinfect toys and surfaces throughout the day. Even still, your baby will likely get sick at some point. You may even get sick too. Try to mentally prepare for this, and will get through it together.

Kristy Barnhill, Infant Room Teacher

I'm Kristy, I've been married for 9 years to the greatest man ever. I love being outdoors and going primitive camping. I have a crazy little dog named Malibu that get's pampered more than she should. I'm obsessed with make-up and doing make-up on others.

I've been at The Academy for the past 10 years, and 9 of those years in the infant room. Most parents have a single infant for a year. That's 365 days, 24 hours a day, 8,760 hours in one year of caring for an infant. I have 8 infants a day, and when they get older and move on to another room, I get another one. So it's always been 8 babies a day, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. Over 10 years, that's 149,760 hours of infant care. I've got a little experience with taking care of babies!

Katie Ramirez, RN, BSN, CLC

Born Happy, Owner and Coach

Katie Ramirez is a Registered Nurse and Certified Lactation Counselor. She has spent more than a decade serving patients at major university hospitals such as Vanderbilt University and Penn State University Medical Centers. Katie now spends her time supporting and empowering parents of babies and toddlers as owner and Coach for Born Happy.

Katie is the proud mother of two beautiful children, Roberto (age 6, and Veronica (age 4). She has a passion for health, wellness, and happy children, and believes that, with the necessary knowledge and support, all parents can live happy.

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