Settling your child in at nursery

If you're returning to work and your baby or toddler is starting at nursery, then factor in that some nurseries have a very gentle settling-in process. This is great for your child, but you'll need to plan your return to work accordingly.

Check out things like sleep times and meal times. If you can mirror the nursery routine at home in the run-up to going to nursery, that will be one less adjustment to make.

"You can also check about taking in a sleeping bag/cuddle blanket to help your baby feel at home," suggests one Mumsnetter.

Above all, don't stress out about your decision - even the most delicate, hand-reared chicks settle quite quickly.

"My daughter was 11 months when she started nursery. She was still breastfed, rejected bottles, hardly ate solids, had separation anxiety, would only fall asleep with nursing or in moving buggy, co-slept in my bed. We settled her in very gently. Grandma did the drop-off. Have about five minutes chatting with carers, then say goodbyes casually, like nothing is wrong, hand to carer to cuddle, then LEAVE. The howling, if any, should stop after a few minutes. The carers will call you anyway, if it goes on for too long. When I pick up, I always peep through the door (out of my daughter's sight) to make sure she is not crying."

Settling your child in nursery dos and don'ts 

  • Don't sneak out

"I've found it easier to hand over my son after a brief chat with the nursery staff about how he is that day, with a big smile and kiss for my son (even when I feel like crying), say 'bye bye see you later' and then walk out, quickly, and don't look back."

  • Be upbeat and hide your own anxiety

"Big kiss and flamboyant goodbye, have a lovely time etc, quick getaway, then collapse in a nervous heap in the car!"

  • Give the nursery staff all the help you can to settle your baby

"Don't be afraid to tell the nursery exactly what your baby likes and dislikes, how you settle her, everything you can about her, no matter how trivial, it will give them a much better idea of her personality and this may help them to calm her quicker."

  • Adjust your baby to nursery food gradually

"Ask nursery staff to introduce a little of the nursery food alongside stuff brought from home. I had one baby who was fed baby food jars at home so I used to mix it with some cooked fresh veg at nursery to get them used to the taste."


You may find there are three stages to adjustment:

1. Horror and alcohol: "Pass me the gin. Had to leave my son crying this morning. It's broken my heart. I went back in after an hour to see how he was getting on - he was fast asleep in a cot, they said he cried for a while then fell asleep. I have this horrible image of him crying himself to sleep because his mum wasn't there."

2. Stiffening of upper lip: "It is all very well doing attachment / instinctive / caveman parenting when they are tiny, but you cannot do it and go back to work. You just can't. So training may be contrary to the spirit of what you've done so far, but unless you're up for eternal SAHM-dom you're going to do it. My daughter did two weeks of wailing (including food/milk refusal, them having to come and fetch me from the car park etc), a week of three-minutes-of-tears, a week of mild-whimper and subsequently greeted the staff with smiles holding her arms out for a cuddle. So long as you like and trust the staff, you'll get through it and, more importantly, so will they."

3. Gay abandon: "She now falls on the toys without a backward glance and I skulk off unnoticed..."

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