Starting Daycare - Transitioning a Fussy, Colic or Reflux Baby to Daycare
by Amy Nogar and Annette Cottrell
Transitioning a baby to daycare and returning to work is particularly stressful for parents of fussy babies or babies with reflux and colic. Some preparation upfront and open communication with daycare providers can help ease that transition.
Fussy and reflux babies do better in certain daycare environments
While all babies form strong attachments and thrive with fewer caregivers, it can be especially important for babies with reflux or colic who have fewer self-soothing skills. Be sure to select a childcare program where your baby will have one primary caregiver who will be responsible for your child's care. In order for your baby to be successful daycare staff may need to carry or wear him throughout the day so be sure the childcare facility you choose is able to provide that. Also ask if your provider has had training in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention. Be prepared to provide any extra equipment your provider may not already have, like sleeping wedges, ways to effectively administer reflux medication, or baby carriers that minimize reflux rather than contribute to it (like over the shoulder slings and too-large front packs.)
Communicate clearly with your childcare provider
Be up front with your provider if you expect your baby to have a difficult time in child care. Good providers will appreciate your honesty. Make sure your provider understands what reflux means - that they will likely be spit-up on often, that certain positions or situations can trigger reflux episodes, and what the correct positions are for feeding, burping and carrying a baby with reflux.
Consider bringing a journal for your provider to detail naps, diapers, foods or reflux medications given, or reflux episodes that occur while at daycare. A journal is also a great way for you to detail any situations that occurred the previous night that may affect your baby. For instance, if your baby was up more often than usual, or if you were out and your baby received extra stimulation.
Write down any tricks that that you've found effectively calm your baby and ask them for suggestions too. Many providers have tricks that they've developed over the years.
If your baby needs reflux medication be sure your provider knows the best way to administer it and the latest dosing. Be sure any expressed breastmilk or special formula is clearly marked with your baby's name on it and that you've provided instructions for quantities and feeding times so that your baby isn't overfed to satisfy colicky behaviour.
Provide transition objects to help your baby
Babies sometimes act differently at daycare than at home
Many parents worry that the baby won't soothe or nap at all in daycare. Be aware that your baby may sleep more at daycare, feed less at daycare or otherwise act differently.
Easing baby into daycare
It may take a slight adjustment period but most babies, even those with colic and reflux, transition easily to a well-chosen daycare situation. Do help your baby adjust to daycare gently by taking him for short visits at first to help him get used to the new environment, and help your provider get used to your baby. Once you've done that try leaving him for a few hours or a half day for the first few days to ease him into full days.
Easing the parent into daycare
Putting your baby in daycare can be more stressful to you than it is to your baby. Don't be afraid to phone your daycare provider during the day to see how your baby is doing.
Dropping your baby off at daycare
When it's time to drop your baby off at daycare, do stay around long enough to get your baby settled, communicate any information or explain journal entries to your provider, and then leave. Hanging around longer than necessary will give your baby the message that you're unsure about the situation and he may become anxious.
Show your appreciation to your baby's provider
We all want our babies to be loved and cared for by our providers as we ourselves love and care for our babies. Showing your appreciation to your provider on a regular basis or giving small tokens of gratitude occasionally can go a long way.
Amy Nogar has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has provided licensed child care in her home since 1995. She currently owns and operates Amy and Kids Co. Family Child Care. Annette Cottrell is the owner and site administrator for Pollywog Baby and mom to two previously fussy reflux babies.
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