Helping your child settle in

When your child is starting at a new childcare setting it is important to consider this transition and understand how you can help them settle in.

Settling-in period

Each setting will have their own settling in policy, however we always recommend that there is a two- to four-week settling-in period.

In Nursery settings make sure the key person is available and not on holiday or attending training during the settling in process and the child’s first few days at the setting. When using a childminder ensure they have a back up childminder that the child is familiar and comfortable with, in case of holidays, sickness or emergencies.

Take your time to get to know the childminder/staff during the settling in period.

Ensure the introduction to the setting is gradual, starting with the child attending with you. Penny Tassoni suggests 5 steps to settling in.

Step 1

Child plays with key person while the parent is alongside. After a while, parent disengages from activity although is present.

Step 2

Child plays with key person with parent alongside. Then parent moves away slightly to pick something up e.g. magazine. 

Step 3

Child plays with key person. Parent is alongside at first. But then parent strolls in and out of sight e.g. gets something from a cupboard

Step 4

Child plays with the key person – parent pops out of room to collect an object e.g. sticker for the child Parent confidently tells child that they are going to do this and then goes. 1 minute absence

Step 5

As step 4, but increase length of time that parent is out of the room to 20 minutes

Eventually, build this up to the child attending for a full session or day. As part of the settling-in period, some settings carry out home visits to get to know the child in a familiar and comfortable environment and to talk to the parent in a relaxed way.

The setting will be able to stay in contact with you during the time the child is left, via a call or message. If your child is distressed and is unable to be settled, you will be contacted.

The setting will create a familiar routine so that your child knows what to expect when they are dropped off at your setting.

Greeting and saying goodbye

During the settling-in period, say goodbye in a calm and brief manner, and tell your child when you’ll be back. Staff should confidently greet and say goodbye to babies and children too. Your child might like to keep a favourite toy or cuddly with them to begin with as a transitional object.