Settling a Child in

A settling-in time is a transition period for child, parents and childminder. It’s important to start it off on the right foot but also to give time for everybody to get used to the new routine.

It gives you the opportunity to find out lots of information about a new child, their likes and dislikes, routines, favourite activities, how to comfort them if they become upset and how they have reacted when left in the care of others before. It is also an opportunity to build a picture of the child’s and the family’s needs.

Encourage the parent to stay until they feel that the child is settled.  Some children do take longer than others to settle, and others settle quickly but can become distressed a few weeks later for no apparent reason. It’s vital to support the child and the family through this transition period so that the child is settled into a routine that s/he can relate to and take comfort in. You want each child to feel happy and relaxed in your home.

This period also allows the child and the family to get to know you as a childminder. It is important that they understand your approach to children & to childminding and it is a good opportunity to set boundaries with the new family.

Top Tips to a Successful Settling-in Period

1. Get to know parent and child Encourage the parent to bring the baby/child over to your home and spend some time getting to know them. Find out the child’s likes & dislikes and routines. Observe how the parent and child interact, and ask them for any tips about how to settle or soothe the baby. This helps you establish a relationship with the family and also lets the baby see you and their parent getting along. You may need to do this more than once, depending on how it goes.

2. Child without parent time Have the child spend short periods of time with you, without their parent – gradually increasing the time from an hour up. Again, if possible do this a few times to help child and parent be relaxed about coming to you.

3. Visual timetable Make a visual timetable using photographs of your daily routine which include things children do so they can see their routine from arrival to going home. Encourage parents to spend time looking at the routine and speaking positively about the things their child will be doing during the day.

4. Play up the fun Have a really positive attitude about all the fun the child is going to have with you.

5. Communication Once the child is started, particularly in the early days, you could send photos of the child to the parents for reassurance. This is particularly important while you are all getting to know each other.

6. Special place Provide the child with a special place to put their comfort toy or blanket so they can find it easily through the day.

7. End of day routine It can help to develop a routine about going home at the end of the day, where you can make a fuss of parent’s arrival. Reassure parents if the child is reluctant to go home. Ideally, a secondary attachment will form – the best thing for the child when parents are not there.

8. Tips for parents Give parents the link to our Top Tips for Parents on settling a child in to a childminders. This will be particularly helpful for first time parents.

9. Rare exceptions If a child is still not settling, be honest with their parents, let them know. If possible extend the settling in period, meaning that the child comes to you for shorter amounts of time and build it up more slowly. If it is very clear after an extended time and if you are concerned about the child’s wellbeing, suggest to parents that a different type of childcare, might suit their child better and give the notice period that is in your childminding contract. This is not an easy option for anyone and happens very rarely but it can sometimes be the best outcome for the child and the other children in your care.