Transitioning from Home to Child Care

Support the Transition to Child Care

Starting child care can be a difficult transition for children and caregivers alike. While child care has numerous benefits, including access to highly skilled educators who are trained to support your child’s development, it takes trust to let someone educate and care for your child without you.

During this transition, your child may express discomfort or fear. That is totally natural. Adjusting to a new environment and schedule and building relationships with new caregivers takes time. However, with the right support and preparation, you can ensure that your child’s transition to child care is successful which, in turn, will reduce your own worries and anxiety.

What are the benefits of child care?

Although the transition to child care can be scary, this new early learning environment actually offers many benefits to both you and your child, including (but not limited to):

    • opportunities for children to build and practice their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional skills right under the guidance of highly skilled early childhood educators,
    • opportunities for children to play and socialize with other children and adults, which can help build self-confidence skills, lifelong friendships, and more,
    • more structure and routine in each day, which helps children sleep better, eat healthier, and support children’s overall well-being,
    • exposure to a variety of play, art, music, art, and other child-led activities,
    • a smoother transition to kindergarten thanks to increased practice making transitions between home, and activities and other classroom skills,
    • the ability for parents and caregivers to return to work which helps to stabilize financial security and ensures that families can continue to advance their careers,
    • access to a reliable set of educators who provide child care on a consistent basis, no questions asked or additional schedules to be considered,
    • the addition of much needed alone time for parents and caregivers to complete tasks, errands, chores, recreational activities, self-care, and more, and
    • opportunities for parents and caregivers to grow their personal support networks by building relationships with other caregivers, educators, and more.

To learn more, view these resources from ABC Academy and The Gardner School.

How can you support your child’s transition to child care?

To prepare your child for their transition to child care, consider:

    • visiting the child care program before their first day to familiarize them with the environment and educators; some programs offer a phased transition approach;
    • talk to your child about child care, including what it will look like, how it will be different from home, where you will go, and when you will come back;
    • ask your child how they are feeling and validate their experience; be kind to yourself as well but try to set a strong, confident example for your child during drop-off;
    • read books or watch tv episodes together where the main character is starting child care or the first day of school;
    • work together to brainstorm strategies your child can use when they are feeling sad, angry, anxious, or unsure in their new environment; some children bring a comfort item with them to help soothe them during the transition; and
    • ask for a copy of the child care schedule in advance and start practicing it at home before the official start of child care.

Learn More

For information on how to find, choose, and afford high-quality child care, check out our printable family guide. If you live or work in Allegheny County, visit Allegheny Child Care to find a high-quality child care program near you. To learn more strategies, view the following resources:


Series Navigation

The Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series highlights several early childhood topics to support parents and caregivers who are caring for young children. Use the list below to navigate through each series topic:

Learn more about the series.

Request free printed materials from our Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series.


Picture: A young baby looks up at the camera.
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