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Toddler Not Adjusting To Daycare? 5 Tips To Help Them

Things You Can Do To Help Your Child Adjust To Daycare

We all go through changes that are incredibly hard sometimes. As adults, we can foresee what’s to come and try and make logical sense of it. Change is great! Change is healthy! Toddlers? Toddlers barely have the capacity to know what is hot and what is cold. They know you. They know your home (their home) and they have no idea what their life will entail or the copious amounts of learning they will undertake and how early in life that starts.

Sending your child to daycare is something you think of for months before it actually happens. You know what’s ahead and you prepare yourself for it, picking the right one and making sure you are happy with it before you send your little one in.

The day comes, and they cry. Normal? Yes. They may even come back from daycare cranky. But what happens past the stage where they should be settled, when your toddler is still uncertain, still resisting and still not adjusting to daycare?

What you will learn:

  • Why you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare
  • 5 things you can do to help

toddler not adjusting to daycare

Why Is My Toddler Not Adjusting To Daycare?

If you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare, then these are the 5 most common reasons why…

Staff Shuffle

The first thing you might need to consider is a not so positive change, especially if your toddler loved a certain member of staff. Has a carer left the daycare? Has your child’s key worker been swapped with somebody else? Is there even adequate staff? By covering the issue of staff, you will be able to determine if a shift within your toddler’s daycare has had an impact on them.

A staff shuffle could be the reason why you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare!

Room Change

On the subject of change – has your toddler gone from one room to another? Quite often in daycare settings, there are younger rooms then preschool rooms. This shift in dynamics can affect children in ways that you can’t imagine, especially if they had befriended one or more children in younger years that they are no longer able to play with.

Missing You

It is possible that your toddler.. and I know this may come as a shock.. is missing you! You, the caregiver. You, the primary person in their lives. You, the constant smiler who gives them everything they need from a hug to a diaper change, to food and a warm bath. ‘Where are you? Why are you taking me to this place? How long do I have to be here for?’ And so on. They go from being all yours to being in a room with thirty other kids all vying for attention, squabbling over toys, or having to wait for their snack.

It’s quite an eye opening experience and one that takes some adjusting.

Problem Child?

A slightly more concerning factor is the possibility that there is a child at your toddler’s daycare who may be causing some upset or unease. It isn’t about bullying – this is just daycare.

But it could be that an overly confident child could be all up in your little one’s personal space without realizing it. Maybe they sit next to each other at lunch.

It could even be as simple as another child wanting to play with yours but this is met with zero reciprocation.

Perhaps You Were Wrong

As much as it may pain you to admit it, if you can safely rule out the above reasons as to why you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare, it might be wise to consider the fact that the setting you placed them in, simply isn’t for them. This, of course, should only be considered after all other reasons have been exhausted.

5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Child Adjust To Daycare

Half the battle is digging through your situation and making discoveries that you may not like. The vast majority of parents want the best for their children, especially when they are so young and unable to specify what it is that is bothering them.

What comes next? You have a better idea of the cause for concern and now you need to take the next step. After gaining insight as to why you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare… you now have several options in what your next steps are.

The aim of the game is for your toddler to be happy. Happy toddler, happy parent, right?

Arrange A Meeting

The most important thing you can do initially is to arrange a meeting at the daycare. By letting them know your concerns or how unsettled your toddler is, they can take extra care to give the attention your little one needs.

Additionally, they can offer you a proper insight into their day by giving feedback on how their mood is whilst out of your care. You may be surprised to learn that your toddler seems quite content. Either way, it is beneficial to let them know your worries so that they can look out for signs and work closely with you and your child.

Let Your Toddler Feel In Control

If you have a toddler not adjusting to daycare, you could hand them a little more control… Those desperate mornings that leave you laden with guilt as you do the drop-off and wish there was more you could do to help.. are possible! Little things can make a huge difference and if you wanted to really offer some control to your toddler, you can start by offering them the choice of what to wear for their day. What would they like for breakfast? Would they like to take their comfort blanket or teddy in today? What sort of special tea or lunch would they like for a treat?

Distractions and comforts are there for the taking. And they really do make a difference!

Be Positive!

Children have a really good habit of absorbing their environment, so if you are positive, they will be too. Easy ways to do this is just having out loud and very natural conversations with your partner about how lovely your child’s daycare is, then involving your child.

As cheesy as it sounds, it gives them something to think about and if they can see you feel it is safe and lovely, the chances are they will build up that same level of positivity.

Be consistent though. If you groan within earshot – you can guarantee they will hear you!

Say Bye – And Go!

Dropping and running is one of the best things you can do for your child. You may think it is more productive and caring to stay and soothe those worrisome tears, but what you are actually doing is drawing out the inevitable separation.

I know…. it goes against our nurturing nature to leave an upset child in the arms of somebody you barely know, but that somebody is a trusted caregiver in a safe setting, somebody who is used to this type of emotion. They will know what to do.

Your job is to leave your child with a kiss and a cuddle, and say, ‘See you soon.’

Arrange Play dates With Other Parents

A really good step forward is to consider a play date or two with other children who attend your toddler’s daycare. These dates can be helpful in noticing how your toddler interacts with other children but also when it comes to dropping them off, you can rest assured that there will be one or two friendly faces greeting them when they arrive.

By doing this, you are encouraging friendships and showing your toddler that it is alright to make friends and play with other children, especially if they are more on the shy side.


If you are getting an uncertain feeling from your child’s daycare, it is important to put a stop to it and figure out your next step. If that is arranging a meeting, then ensure you get what you want from it. After all, you are trying to turn them from a toddler not adjusting to daycare, into a toddler who loves to go to daycare, right?

If you are still unsatisfied afterward, it may be time to decide whether or not the current daycare is the right one for your little one.

You will be amazed at the effect little changes have on the well being of your toddler and by spotting the signs you can help.

It is also worth considering that your toddler is onto something! For instance, 5 year old children who attended a lot of hours at daycare showed more signs of behavioral problems.

Good luck!

Dad Gold

Written by Dad Gold

Dad, Blogger, part-time superhero. I am giving you all the tips that I wish I had when I was a new dad! Bringing up a child can be tough... and I want to use this blog to give you some parenting tips I picked up throughout my journey as a dad (so far!), along with some recommended gear that I use to help make the dad journey much easier!

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