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10 Ways to Survive Daycare Drop-Off


It's hard on every working mom to say goodbye to her kids. Add in tears, crying, and clinging, and daycare drop-off can be really rough on both baby and mom! Make leaving for the day a little easier with these tips.

1. Pack a Lovey

a young boy looking at the camera while hugging his stuffed toy

Your little one's beloved comfort object is a must-include when packing her diaper bag. If your child doesn't have a lovey, help her pick a favorite toy to bring to daycare, that way she'll have a bit of home with her at all times. Warning: Do not under any circumstances leave it behind at pick-up.

2. Be Confident

a mom standing next to her toddler daughter

Your baby picks up on your moods. Projecting happy confidence during drop-off could make her feel better about staying behind. No matter what, do not let your baby know you are feeling sad or concerned about dropping her at daycare (even if you are miserable!).

3. Read This Book

The Kissing Hand book

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn tells the tale of a raccoon named Chester who really doesn't want to go to school. But a special kiss on the hand from his mama serves as a reminder that she is always with him. Read this book frequently with your little one and issue your own special, forever-comforting kiss.

4. Create a New Center of Attention

a mom playing with her son and his toy car

Distract, distract, distract. Maybe you bring breakfast for your little one to eat it right when you arrive at the facility. Or enlist a caregiver to stroll out of the room with your baby or engage your toddler with a fun toy or task. Getting kids involved in an enjoyable activity from the start can help them feel more comfortable at the center and more ok with your leaving.

5. Always Say Good-bye

a mom hugging goodbye to her son

Don't sneak out. Instead, give your child one hug and one kiss, tell him you love him, and—this is important—let him know when you'll be back to pick him up. Then leave, even if the daycare teacher has to peel your little one's arms from the death grip off your neck.

6. Don't Dawdle

a young professional mom having a drink with her daughter

Sticking around until your child calms down might seem like a good solution, but it only makes it harder on your child. If you don't feel comfortable leaving entirely, head out to your car and wait for the daycare to text you to say your child is settled and happily playing (for most kids it will be a matter of minutes).

7. Have a Check-in Plan

a young woman looking at her mobile phone

Make a plan with the staff for how and when you'll check in with them. Knowing that you'll receive updates and possibly photos of your child throughout the day will make you feel more comfortable with leaving your child there, and your little one will pick up on that vibe.

8. Aim for Well-Rested and Well-Fed

a young boy looking happy at a table

A satiated, rested child is a happy kid, just what you need when you're heading toward the potentially unpleasant daycare drop-off time. Adjust your child's bedtime if she's having a hard time getting up and ready to go when you need her to be in the morning. And serve up a healthy, filling breakfast, or at least pack a sippy cup of milk, a low-sugar, high-protein breakfast bar, and a banana to scarf down in the car.

9. Make Friends With the Staff

a young woman playing with some toddlers at daycare

Help your baby get comfortable with his daycare and teachers. Visit with him several times before leaving him there, and have the teachers hold him. Snap a picture of him with each of them (or just photograph the teachers individually, if your baby is not cooperating). At home you can flip through the images with your little one and name each teacher, talking about them as familiar friends.

10. Prep a Scrapbook

a mom reading a book to her daughter

Some moms have found packing a mini-scrapbook with pictures of each family member to be helpful for comforting an unsettled child. If your little feels sad about you leaving, settle him down with the distracting task of flipping through photos of mom and dad, siblings, and even pets. Consider laminating it for increased longevity!

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