How Long Does it Take a Child to Adjust to Daycare? A Parents Helpful Guide

a child crying at daycare

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It’s impossible to know how your child will respond to daycare until that first day.

The GOOD news is, most children are resilient and adapt well to change. The BETTER news is that even those who struggle at first almost always adjust quickly.

*FYI, some of the links in this article about how long to adjust to daycare may be affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, we may get a commission (at no extra cost to you). For more info, please see our disclaimer.

How Soon Will My Child Adjust to Daycare?

a toddler going to daycare

The amount of time it takes a child to adjust to daycare depends on their age and personality. There are ways parents can help make the adjustment easier at every stage of development. Creating a goodbye ritual is the easiest and most popular way to help children adjust.

It’s an interesting question, but it’s not one without many conditions and caveats. For instance, a child on the autism spectrum is in an entirely different situation than a child who isn’t.

That said, in most cases, children eventually grow to accept and even embrace the daycare environment.

Looking for a Good Quality Daycare?

Find an affordable and qualified daycare center that fits your needs.

How Long Does it Take an Infant to Adjust to Daycare?

An infant going to daycare for the first time rarely has many adjustment problems. Infants are still getting accustomed to the world around them. Therefore, they are fairly malleable when it comes to childcare.

It’s often much more difficult for the parents to adjust than for the kids! If that is the case in your home, try to make the goodbye ritual short and sweet. Dragging it out only serves to prolong your pain and confuse your baby.

Related: 10+ Childcare Options: Which is Better?

How Long Does it Take a 1-Year Old to Adjust to Daycare?

A one-year-old child might have separation anxiety when left at daycare. It can take up to two weeks of daily drop-offs before they start to feel at home.

To ease this issue, make sure the child has plenty of time with people outside of your family prior to daycare. Hire an occasional babysitter so your child has experience being cared for by others.

If you’re like most parents dropping off your child at daycare for the first time is not going to be easy.

Your baby is going to start crying. You’re going to feel like they’ll NEVER stop crying.

They DO ADJUST, and it does get EASIER.

I wrote an article about dropping off your child at daycare for the first time. Check it out. There’s some helpful information in there (also some helpful comments other parents left).

How Long Does it Take a 2-Year Old to Adjust to Daycare?

Expect at least two or three weeks for a toddler to adjust to daycare. This is true if you’re going to daycare for the first time or if you’re changing daycares for any reason.

Allow your child to take a favorite toy with them to daycare or buy toys you know they’ll love that’s for daycare only. It shouldn’t take long for your toddler to happily play as you say goodbye.

Related: The Worst Age to Start Daycare

How Long Does it Take For a 3-Year Old to Adjust to Daycare?

Experts say 12 months is the ideal age to start daycare. Supposedly, they adjust more quickly when introduced young.

While that may be true for most kids, my children started nursery school at age three. The most stressful part of the first day, for both of them, was which toy to play with first.

According to those same experts, adjustment to daycare (at three years of age) can take up to a full month, but it can also be as little as one day.

How Long Does it Take a 4-Year Old to Adjust to Daycare?

A child at age four is old enough to be reasoned with. You can explain to them why you need to start or change daycares.

They might cry or throw tantrums about it, but they will eventually love their new daycare.

Keep in mind, while an older child is old enough to understand your words, they’re also already dedicated to their existing environment. For that reason, it can take three months or longer for a four-year-old child to fully adjust to a new daycare environment.

How Long Does it Take a 5-Year Old to Adjust to Daycare?

Five years old isn’t that different from four. It can be as long as six months or as little as one day before the five-year-old child is happy in their new daycare.

One aspect of this that absolutely must be considered is consistency. If your child has difficulty adjusting, make sure the schedule is predictable every day.

Inconsistent childcare only serves to confuse a child who is already struggling.

Key Takeaways

Some children might take up to six months to adjust to daycare. Many children are happy in daycare from the first or second day. If your child has difficulty adjusting, remind yourself that it’s perfectly normal.

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Looking for a Good Quality Daycare?

Find an affordable and qualified daycare center that fits your needs.

Have You Read These?

Frequently Asked Questions

The best age to start daycare is usually about 12-months of age. At this age, the baby has a better developed immune system.

The older the child, the more difficult the transition will be. For instance, an infant will transition quicker because everything is a new environment. This is different from a toddler who probably already has an established routine, so they will be more resistant to any new routine.

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