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Starting Nursery: How to Help Your Little One Settle In

Updated: Jun 4

Starting a nursery is a big step for both you and your little one. Whether they are enrolling in a private nursery or preschool, the first few weeks can be a challenge for some children. However, by taking the right steps to ensure they settle in easily, you can help your child get the right start to their learning and education.


As a parent or caregiver, it can be worrisome sending your child to nursery, but there’s no need to panic. Your child will be in safe hands and will learn so many new things, make new friends and learn how to be independent for the first time in their lives. If your little one will soon be starting infant care, we’ve put together this guide to help you learn some helpful tips for making the transition as easy as possible.


A boy and a woman drawing on a small table


Meet other children before they start a day nursery

Some children find meeting other children difficult. They have to share toys, learn empathy and appreciate a broad range of personalities. If your child has not been exposed to other children before, starting day nursery can be hard to navigate for them. Try taking them to a baby or toddler group so they can start socialising. This allows you to meet other parents or carers and provides a safe space for your children to meet their peers.


This is particularly important for babies born during the pandemic and who may not have experienced the same level of socialisation as children had before. You can also try taking your child to a swimming class or music class. This teaches your child new skills while being surrounded by other children and can help them create positive associations with these learning spaces.


Practise the route to the nursery

Whether you plan to walk, cycle, take public transport or drive to nursery, it’s a good idea to get your toddler used to the journey. You can take them several times before they actually attend the private nursery so that they can see what it looks like and pique their interest in a place where lots of other children are going and having fun. Talk to them the whole way and point out landmarks that will become familiar so that they can recognise the route.


You can even practise the journey at the same time as you would be bringing them to the nursery so they can get used to the morning or afternoon routine. If the route passes by a playpark, why not let them have some fun so they can enjoy the journey too? When you walk past the nursery, point out the gates and tell them you will be going there one day.


Talk positively about the nursery

Even if you are anxious about your child attending nursery, it’s important not to let this on to your little one. Make sure you are positive and cheerful when you talk to your child about nursery. Otherwise, they will be able to pick up on your emotions and internalise them. You are the main influence in your child’s life and they are more impacted by your own mood and emotions than you may believe. It’s important to make the day nursery sound like the exciting place that it is so that they are curious and intrigued about going.


If you have any concerns about your child attending day nursery or you’re not sure how they will react, be open with your private nursery practitioners and they will be able to help. They have plenty of experience dealing with the transition to nursery so they will have great advice.


Be prepared for your child to cry

Unfortunately, you may not be able to avoid your child being upset on their first day at nursery. It is completely natural for a child to be nervous or scared when their caregiver is leaving them for the first time. The worst thing you can do in this situation is react to their tears in the same way. If you see your child crying and you begin to look worried or cry with them, it will only make the child more unsure about what is happening. 


You have to trust that the nursery staff are used to this and will be the best thing to help your child enjoy their first day at nursery. The staff will give your child lots of cuddles and quickly distract them with fun activities to do. You won’t have to worry that your child will cry all day as 9 times out of 10 they will cry for 10 minutes and soon have a great time doing arts and crafts or playing with other children.


Let your child determine the speed

It’s important to let the settling-in process go at the speed of the child and recognise that being in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people can be overwhelming. Contact your private nursery and enquire about a home visit so they can get to know your child in an environment they are comfortable with. They may also suggest your child make a few short visits to the nursery so that they can feel comfortable and secure. 


All nurseries will have a key worker who will liaise with you while your child is at nursery and support your child’s emotional well-being. Make sure to read through your private nursery’s settling-in policy and understand how to help prepare your child for the transition.


What is the settling-in process?

You should speak to your child’s private nursery or day nursery practitioners to discuss the settling-in process as each nursery may do it differently. Settling in often involves three visits. For the first visit, the parent or carer will stay in the room but step back when possible, allowing their child to start interacting with their key person. The second time, the child will stay for two or three hours while the parent leaves them. If possible, a third session will let the child stay for half a day. Your private nursery will be more than happy to arrange further settling-in sessions if they think it is needed.


When you first leave your child at the nursery, it is a good idea to only leave for an hour or so, to minimise the chances of them feeling isolated by your absence. Once they are used to the idea that you will leave but always come back, they will be ready to stay for a half-day or full-day.


How to find quality infant care in your area

If you are looking for the ideal infant care for your child, it’s important to do your research. There are many nurseries, but you should make sure the one you choose is suited to the needs of your child and offers the kind of care you want for them. Private nurseries are a great option for giving your child a varied and fun start to their education. Make sure to call private nurseries in your area or visit their websites to determine the kind of care they provide and if it is right for your child.


We always recommend nursery and infant care that is based on research and real-life studies such as Montessori, Steiner and Forest Schools. These kinds of institutions can help give your child the freedom to lead their own learning and provide a safe space to learn the limits of their environment. Forest School prioritises learning in nature and can help give your little ones the headstart they deserve.


Blue Nest Montessori School - Private Nursery provider in Harrow, Pinner & Borehamwood

If you are looking for a quality day nursery in Harrow, Pinner or Borehamwood, come pay a visit to Blue Nest Montessori School. We offer excellent children’s nurseries for children from 3 months of age to 5 years old. Embracing the research of Dr. Maria Montessori and Forest School education to provide high-class and beneficial infant care to your children. We are one of the best Harrow day nurseries and our staff will ensure the transition to infant care is as seamless as possible. To speak to a member of our team, give us a call today.


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