Socialization begins at birth, but around 6-8 months your baby will start to develop his/her own personality and adopt behaviors from others. Your child will enjoy the sound of familiar voices, the sight of known faces, and the touch of loved hands. Small, daily actions have a tremendous role in socializing your baby.
When to Start Childcare
As long as you are forming the parent-baby bond and your infant is getting loving care at home, then they can go onto thrive with childcare in the right circumstances. Make sure the daycare you place them in has plenty of one-on-one interaction in a small group setting. Your baby may be ready once they have reached 6-8 months of age. If possible, you can even wait a little longer.
Choosing an Individual or Daycare for Your Baby
When you go to visit potential daycare facilities, look for nurturing trust, growing self-esteem, and building social skills by interacting with other babies and adults. Your baby will need plenty of attention, with playful interaction and inviting sounds. Based on the cost, availability, and flexibility you have, look for care providers that pay extra attention. When you go in for a consultation, notice how they respond to your child. Choose someone who is attentive, perceptive, and comfortable exchanging affection with your baby. If you are at work for 8 hours a day or longer, you will want someone who has an early childhood degree, good references, and (lots of) experience. Entrusting someone with your infant is not easy, especially when caregiving is so expensive, so consult a financial planner if you need to. This way, you can get help working out a plan with an option you feel comfortable with.
Consistency is important to children, at daycare and everywhere else. The less turnover you have, the more comfortable your child will feel in social situations later on. There are no guarantees, but choose someone you know is reliable so you feel comfortable sending your baby to them for a long time.
Helping You and Your Baby Adjust
Make strangers less threatening and give your baby time to adjust to new people before you put them into a full-time daycare environment. Get used to having friends and family hold and interact with your baby first. This way, your baby will know what it feels like when around new people and can start getting accustomed to being separated from you. Each child is different too, so pay attention to whether your child responds better with high energy or more of a gentle temperament. Helping your baby get the right interaction will ease their adjustment by putting them in the right situation to begin with. It will also help you to feel more comfortable with this change and separation.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. Please consult your healthcare provider directly for medical advice, diagnoses, and treatments. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health or the health of your baby, consult your physician.