Ideal age to start daycare?

Our son is 22 months old and we are deciding to start him at a daycare when he turns 2. We are very lucky to find a spot at a wonderful daycare :) Still, I’m wondering what’s the ideal age for that? He is very curious, yet very calm. He likes to play by himself, but likes to have people around him. And it is a bit of a bittersweet news to me as he has always been home with a nanny, and even though I’m a working mom, I’ve be able to find some time to spend some extra moments with him.

  • Anonymous
    Jul 18

    My son started daycare at 16 months! It’s his JAM. He loves going every day. He runs to his class and hugs his friends. It will be an adjustment, but I think it’s been a good experience. For a while he’d look to me, or only listen to me, now he is more open to listening to other adults. He was really rough with the kids at the beginning, but now he’s really calmed down and does the best he can to share. I try to remember (for me personally) they do so much more than I could do! I’m not the artsy type, they paint/color daily. I’m not the Pinterest type, they do fun learning activities daily. I’m pregnant so outdoor time is hard for me since it’s so hot, and they play outside every day. I just think over all it’s been good for him! You definitely cherish the weekends a whole lot more, so will he 😁

  • Kristen
    Jul 18

    As a daycare professional, I would say that you have picked a good time to start your son. You will be surprised at how much he will learn and develop. But just to let you know, it is possible for him to learn behavior that is not normal for him. Unfortunately, kids learn good and not so good things when they first start daycare.

  • Clau
    Jul 18

    In my experience probably 3 is a good age to start pre school. There is a lot of bitting, pushing and hitting before then and depending on how sensitive your child is, it can take a toll on her/his experience. Also, you have to be 100% comfortable with the school and ensure their safety and discipline approach are similar to yours.

  • Mimi
    Jul 18

    I feel the earlier the better. Transition is harder when they are older. Also, they get better structure in daycare/preschool assuming it’s well ran.

  • Kari
    Jul 18

    I think the transition is easier when they are younger (<6 months), but kids adapt easily after a little adjustment time. And to be honest, there are a lot of adjustments that happen in life, so learning what helps your little one during these times is beneficial for now and later. If possible I recommend a progressive integration, meaning going for a half day for a few days, then a full day for a few days. Though, don’t be surprised if he loves it and treats you like a distant memory during drop off (which is both great and sucks). Kids are social creatures, and LOVE being with their own kind.

  • Claudia
    Jul 18

    Any tips for first time parents taking their baby to daycare? My baby girl is going to start daycare next month. She’ll be 5 months. She has started to not want to go with people just mom and dad. Her naps are all over the place, which makes a little fussy. This makes me so nervous. I’ll be taking her 2-3 days before she starts for a little bit just so she can get a feel for things. My heart skips a beat every time I think about it 😢

  • dorit
    Jul 18

    I’m wondering the exact same thing, Renata. My daughter is turning 2 next month and what I’m struggling with is it too early OR is she missing out? I feel like once she’s off in school that’s it...our time together as we know it will never be the same. So yes, I guess this is totally about me right now :P Still unclear about starting now part-time or waiting until she’s 3.

  • Jenny
    Jul 18

    Like you, we had a nanny for the first 24 months then enrolled in preschool. The first couple weeks were a hard transition. She cried during drop off, but wasn't upset that she had to go to preschool so I knew that it was the transition, not the school itself that she was upset about. That helped ease my mind because I think all parents are worried about how the school treats the kids when the parents aren't there. Anyway, we did a transitional introduction. She did half day 3 days a week, then half day 5 days a week, then we just jumped in and did full days. Her vocabulary exploded once she went to preschool. It was amazing. I love that we were able to provide her with 1:1 care for the first 2 years, but preschool was definitely good for her social and academic development (I use the word "academic" very loosely).

  • Jody
    Jul 18

    I differ in that I think there is a balance. I am a teacher myself, and I am fortunate to be off right now, but I like the idea of doing 3 half days a week and my son will be 26 months when we start that. Since I only have one, I know I will never get those years back again, and when he is a bit older I will go back to work and he will be in school full time. The most developed countries in the world don’t start school until the age of 6, but I also believe in a balance.

  • Jody
    Jul 18

    Also, one shouldn’t compare. Kids all catch up to each other, and while learning is always beneficial it all evens out in the end. If children are ahead in some ways from being at school they will be behind in others and vice versa, just like no two adults are the same.

  • Caitlin
    Jul 19

    @Claudia: my daughter started daycare at 5 months, too. The first couple weeks were bumpy - she didn't want to take a bottle, her naps were sporadic so she'd be exhausted when getting home, and she cried at drop off the first few days. But she (and her dad and I) got into the swing of things pretty quickly. For the first week I visited during lunch to nurse her and get a better feel for the place. The workers there were amazing and after that first week I stopped going during lunch - cos face it, alone time is great. Plus I wanted her to get into their routine. She napped better on the weekends but after a few months she napped just as well at daycare. Just put her to bed a little early if she doesn't nap long enough and stick to their nap schedule as best as possible on the weekends (our daycare had morning nap times too, but my daughter often wouldn't go down for them. Would at home just fine.) She's 14 months now and adores her daycare and so do I.

  • Claudia
    Jul 23

    @caitlin thank you! I’ll be taking her a week before for an hr or two.