Last Updated on September 11, 2021.
If you are the parent of a young child, the decision to start daycare is huge. There are many factors to take into account before making the leap and finding the right facility for your little one. However, there’s one factor that should be the deciding factor: the age at which your child starts daycare. Let’s talk about the worst age to start daycare!
What is Daycare?
Before getting into the age, let’s talk about the basics of what daycare actually is. Daycare centers are facilities that care for young children during the days while parents work or attend school. The facility may be open all week, perhaps only on the weekends, or even part-time (just certain hours).
The faculty at a daycare center are typically certified in child care or early childhood. They have the important task of taking the young children and helping them learn the skills they need to grow into productive adults.
The daycare is typically staffed with teachers, assistants, cooks (for meals), cleaners, etc. There may be a number of different rooms for the children based on their age group as well as activities designed specifically for each child’s needs.
Another daycare option is an in-home daycare, where the daycare provider watches kids in their own home. States also offer certifications and licensing for in-home daycares. This can be a great option if you are looking for something more personal, but there are drawbacks as well. Providers typically have multiple children in their care at once so they aren’t able to give each one the full attention that’s needed. They also typically lack the strict policies and procedures of a daycare facility.
What’s the Worst Age to Start Daycare?
The worst age really depends on your perspective.
According to Science
Many research studies have indicated that the worst age to start daycare is the first year of life. The reason for this has been widely debated, but the research points toward the fact that the developing brain needs a lot of care and attention during those first few years.
The more time spent with caregivers who are not parents (parental substitute) the lower the child’s IQ at the age of four. These children can also have feeding and sleep problems, were more anxious and had less positive relationships with the parent upon the child’s entry into the daycare facility.
The majority of evidence suggests that infants should be cared for by a mother or father (parental substitute) until the child is at least one year old.
Difficulty with Toddler Transitions
Toddlers thrive on routine. When their routine is disrupted, like when they start a new daycare, it can be extremely challenging for the child.
The toddler years (18 to 36 months) are the most difficult for your little one, because the children have a tough time adjusting to the separation from their parents and may resort to acting out as a result. This can lead to difficulties with discipline at the facility and behavior issues that follow them home.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics the amount of time needed for a toddler to adjust is different for each child. Some can handle the transition in as little as three days, but others take months before they get comfortable.
For parents who want daycare right away or have no choice, the best thing you can do is prepare your children, the facility, and the teachers for the transition.
What’s the ideal age to start Daycare
The ideal age to start daycare is either between 12 and 18 months, or to wait until preschool around the age of 3 or 4.
Of course, each child is different, so the ideal age to start daycare really depends on the child.
7 Signs Your Child is Ready for Daycare
Your child might be ready for daycare if he or she:
- is curious and interested in the world around them
- has a strong bond with the parents
- can play independently for short periods of time
- starts adapting to routines, like sleeping through the night without waking up or eating at specific times
- is starting to express themselves with sign language or single words
- can express basic needs like hunger and thirst
- has a consistent sleep schedule
The Bottom Line
In general, the most ideal time to send a child to daycare is 12 to 18 months. But there is no perfect age to start daycare. The ideal age can be the worst age for another child and vice versa, but the most important thing you need to remember is that the child needs time to adjust, and they may need a little more help than other children their age.
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