1. No matter what age your baby is, start talking to them about nursery well before the first day arrives. Young children respond to the security of routine, so if that is about to change dramatically, you need to tell them about it in a positive way.
2. Try to make time to visit the nursery so your child knows the environment and you can also talk to their teachers about likes and dislikes, special words and toys etc.
3. Always be positive about going to nursery and how much your child is going to enjoy it - little ones can pick up on our stresses and anxieties so as a parent, you really need to keep on smiling (even during drop off!). You can call at any time during the day to check on your little ones in case you're nervous.
4. Give your child permission to enjoy nursery. It sounds a little odd, however some children have never experienced another lifestyle outside of their own home, so it's a good idea to verbally tell them to have a good time: e.g. you can eat the nursery food, you can have cuddles with the staff, you can play with the nursery toys.
5. Keep your goodbyes short and sweet - it's really important to ensure you handle your departure in a clean and clear way. Say to them that you're leaving, give a kiss and then leave but make sure they understand that you'll be coming back for them soon. Don't spin it out as it makes it harder for both of you and means it will take longer for your baby to build confidence in the new routine.
6. Tears are normal, but hold fast and continue on your way confident that the nursery staff will be providing all the comfort and distraction that your baby needs. Don't try playing hiding games and sneaking peaks around the doorway as your baby will know you're there and will get totally confused (especially if you have already said goodbye).
7. For the first weeks of nursery, as the children settle in, make sure you give them space and don't pack too much in at the weekends as they are going to be tired. And make sure they are ready for the next day by ensuring they have as much sleep as possible - ideally 10-12 hours.
8. Diet is also really important - whether it's in their snack boxes that they are sent to nursery with, or the meals at home, make sure it is whole, fresh and real foods. Aside from the health implications, what they consume can greatly affect a child's mood and behaviour.
9. When you're at home make sure you always speak positively about the nursery day and allow your child to hear and see you so happy about their teachers, friends and the nursery.
10. And finally, be patient. Every child takes time to adjust and the teachers and staff are here to ensure they benefit from the whole experience, so talk to them and work with them to make sure you and your child are happy.
Top tip: New baby at home? If your toddler is heading to nursery but they have a new brother or sister that is staying at home with mummy during the day, our best advice is for mum and toddler to first take your new baby to the baby room and leave them with the staff while you drop off at the other classroom (and then pick up your baby!). This means your child won't be anxious or jealous that they are at nursery when everyone else is at home.
Originally published in 2017 and updated in August 2019.