Top Tips for getting ready to start nursery in 2023
Only five minutes ago you were talking about tummy time, and suddenly your waving your little bundle of joy off on their first day of nursery. Whomever said parenting is a constant grieving process was right!
So you’ve posted your nursery application 2023, and your little one’s about to enrol in childcare for the first time. For both parent and child this is met with excitement and anguish. For many, it’s also the longest time you’ve been separated from each other.
If you’re one of the many parents preparing for their first day of nursery, here’s everything you need to know to get settled in those first few weeks.
Getting nursery ready
It’s hard to know how your child will respond to attending nursery for the first time. While some take it all in their stride, others can be clingy as separation anxiety kicks in. Rest assured, all professional childcare facilities are experts at settling babies in and will care for them lovingly in your absence.
Your caregiver will advise on what you will need to bring, this tends to include:
- A bag with the name on and belongings
- Nappies, wipes and creams – although most nurseries provide these
- Sun cream and a hat
- Wet weather clothes (wellies, coats)
- A spare set of clothes
- Extra underwear
- Comfort toy
- If your child is a fussy eater, then of course their Munchy Play plate too!
The ‘settling in’ period
You will probably start your nursery journey with a settling in period. A frequently asked question is ‘what’s a nursery settling in period and do you pay for nursery settling in sessions? This is an important prelude to starting nursery to help introduce your child to their new environment. Your childcare provider will decide how many nursery settling in days you need. It could be and usually you won’t have to pay for these, although do check as each provider is different.
The first sessions usually lasts about an hour and the parent stays with child. Nursery settling in Covid may have some slightly different protocols, so this is worth asking about, as it may involve a drop-off service
Getting use to new routines
Even if you’ve got a perfect schedule, once children start nursery they’ll quickly become accustomed to their new nursery schedules. This include mealtimes and nap times. You might find they need to go to bed earlier, or eat at different times to reflect their new day, and try and keep these over the weekend or when they aren’t at nursery for routine.
First day drop-off
Your child’s first full day at nursery is a big moment, you might even find that you’re more nervous than they are! If this is the case, have something planned to occupy you – go for lunch with a friend, get your haircut, or throw yourself into work. You’ll find the day goes quick and you can enjoy small things like going to the toilet on your own and eating with both hands!
If your little one is difficult at drop off, make your goodbye’s quick and positive. Talk to your child about their nursery in a positive way and try to keep smiling at drop offs, so they see it as a positive happy moment.
What to expect in your first year of nursery
As your child becomes more accustomed to their surroundings, you can enhance their time at nursery with play dates with other children, as well as soft-play day’s out. From around the age of three, you might even notice that class birthday parties start – something that continues well into the school years.
Nursery isn’t just about childcare, your little one will be learning new life and social skills, as well as learning about the world around them. Here’s a few books that are perfect for toddlers at this age to encourage home learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Kissing Hand, Maisy goes to the Library, Lllama Llama Misses Ma and The Night Before Preschool.
You’ve still got questions? We’ve got the answers, here’s some of your frequently asked questions…
What snacks to give at pick-up
Even if your child is a fussy eater toddler, it’s a given that they’ll be hungry at pick-up. It’s always good to be armed with after nursery snacks for your little one. A bar of Soreen, some sliced apples, or some raisins are always popular for the journey home. You might find mealtimes come earlier with a baby in childcare. It’s always worth investing in fun plates for your child, and looking at ways to make mealtimes enjoyable, as preschool age tends to coincide with fussy eating behaviours. If you have fussy eater toddler or picky eater pre-schooler, then learn more in our picky eater guide.
What’s the difference between preschool and nursery?
First of all, let’s clear up the age-old question, what’s the difference between nursery and preschool? In essence the childcare is the same, the difference is that preschool tends to be attached to a primary school and occasionally may require a uniform. While a nursery is an independent private day care – both welcome babies and children of preschool age and younger. One of the benefits of a nursery is that it tends to be open all year round, compared to just term-time of preschool’s.
What age should child start nursery?
There is no set age when a child should start nursery – many welcome children from as young as three months old. But typically most kids start nursery between the ages of 2 and 3. By this age children are curious and independent, and growing more intertestd in the world around them, this also tends to coincide with fussy eating behaviour – so plan ahead for post-nursery snacks and entertainment to keep them happy at the table.
When can my child start nursery for free?
In the UK, the government funds nursery places for kids aged between 3 and 4 years old. For this you will need a gov childcare account in order to redeem your 30 hours free childcare. The childcare grant payment service is widely used and accepted by a large number of nurseries and preschools, and some (but not all) individual childminders too
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