Choosing when to start your child in Daycare can be difficult for many working parents or new moms and dads.
However, childcare has become an important part of daily life, especially for those juggling parenting and career obligations.
According to research, the worst age to start daycare is below 6 months and after 5 years. But deciding the worst and best age depends on multiple factors, to be sure.
This blog post will provide you with general guidelines to weigh the pros and cons of daycare and decide what is best for your child’s individual needs without being anxious anymore.
Worst Age to Start Daycare
Picking out the worst ages for starting daycare can be tricky since it depends on the child’s development and available daycare settings in your vicinity.
Their overall wellness should be paramount when deciding if your young child is ready for daycare. Consider these 3 factors before transitioning your child into a daycare center:
1. Under Developed Immune System
Babies up to 6 months may not possess a fully developed immune system, thus making them more likely to fall ill. Studies suggest that children aged 3 and under are more prone to catching diseases in daycare than when kept at home.
2. Stress Levels
Babies aged 0-12 months may experience separation anxiety when away from their parents for an extended period.
This is because infants have not yet developed strong attachments to the caregivers in daycare as they do with their parents and family members.
Therefore, if your little one has no prior experience being separated from you, a sudden transition to daycare can hurt their mental well-being.
You may also want to read: How to Help a Child with Separation Anxiety at Daycare?
3. Emotional Development
For infants, the worst age to start Daycare is when they haven’t yet gained enough emotional maturity to handle being away from their parents.
Young children have not yet developed the skills to self-regulate emotions or behavior.
Children thrive in an environment that provides consistent and secure attachments with adults, which can be difficult for a daycare provider to do in a group setting.
Additionally, infants who begin daycare too early may miss important aspects of a child’s development, such as learning to crawl and walk on time.
Best Age to Start Daycare
Deciding when to enroll your infant in Daycare can be daunting. But don’t worry!
Studies have found that the best age for children to adjust to a daycare environment is when they are old enough to foster strong connections with their caregivers and can handle brief periods of separation.
In addition, here are a few more things you should consider:
Most children develop curiosity and a sense of autonomy between 12-24 months.
This is when they prefer exploring their environment independently and can better handle short transitions away from their parents.
At this stage, kids are also better equipped to communicate needs and have a larger capacity for learning new skills in the daycare setting.
2 is the best age for child daycare. Toddlers can better communicate their needs, wants, and feelings at this stage. This skill becomes even more advanced by 3 years old.
The cognitive abilities of young children now make them mature enough to comprehend instructions from caregivers in Daycare. At this age, kids can handle being away from home for extended periods, which makes this stage the perfect time to enroll them.
You might also want to read: What Age Does Daycare Stops| Childcare Rules
3 Deciding Factors: The Best and Worst Age for Childcare
Studies indicate that kids attending Daycare often have heightened cortisol levels, leading to stress and anxiety. Typically, these three components are the most influential in a child’s transition at Daycare.
1. Time Spent at Daycare
Prolonged periods of Daycare can harm the bond between parents and infants. It can negatively impact the social and emotional development of the child.
Hours spent in daycare can go up to 10-12 hours a day. Prolonged daycare hours in early childcare days can stress young children and cause behavioral problems like easy irritability.
You may also like to read: How Many Hours a Day Can a Child Stay in Daycare?
Your child’s time at Daycare must be calculated according to your child’s natural stress level and social behavior. If your child is shy, it is best to start a daycare with a shorter duration and slowly move to complete Daycare.
Opting for such measures could help prevent higher stress and anxiety caused by shy children at Daycare. Once your child becomes comfortable in non-parental care, you might switch to a longer daycare duration.
2. Child Development
It is essential to consider your child’s temperament and needs when deciding when to start Daycare.
If your child is shy, highly dependent, or has difficulty separating from you, they may do better in a smaller home-based daycare setting or nanny care.
If your child is more independent and social, they may do well in a more significant daycare center.
Ultimately, the best way to determine if your child is ready for Daycare is to talk to your child’s doctor and observe how your child responds to being away from you.
3. Daily Routine
When deciding the worst age to start Daycare, your and your child’s daily routine should also be considered.
If your child has a regular sleep schedule and is used to being away from you for brief periods, Daycare at a younger age may be appropriate.
On the other hand, if your little one struggles with going to bed or is not ready for separation from you, it may be best to wait until they are older.
You might also want to read: How to Prepare for First Day of Daycare?
4 Signs Your Child Is Ready for Starting Daycare
While some infants may be ready to join Daycare as soon as two months of age, others might require up to a year or more before they feel comfortable with the transition.
Nevertheless, if you’re unsure whether Daycare is a good fit for your child, these four signs can help guide you in making that decision.
1. Show Independence
Childcare is best if your child’s personality has developed an element of independence.
This is especially true if your little one is content when playing alone and can go to sleep without relying on being close to you.
If your child can make it through the day without frequent reassurance from mom and dad, they are likely ready to transition into a daycare setting.
2. Can Follow Routines
Daycare is the right choice if your toddler is used to a regular daily routine.
When children understand how things work in their home environment and can handle small changes in their routine, they are more likely to adjust quickly to the group setting of Daycare.
You might also want to read: Does Daycare Affect Sleep?
Being potty-trained is a big relief when enrolling your child in Daycare.
Most centers prefer kids to be fully potty-trained before enrolling in their facility.
Therefore, if your little one is still mastering the art of using the toilet, it might be best to wait until they are more comfortable with this skill before signing them up for Daycare.
You might also want to read: Does Daycare Potty Train?
4. They are Interactive
Toddlers who can play with other children and interact positively with adults tend to adapt better to a daycare setting.
If your child is showing signs of being a social butterfly, Daycare could be the perfect place for them to spread their wings.
You Might Also Like to Read First Day of Daycare| All you need to know
Ideal Childcare Time For Different Age Groups
Infants (3 months-1 per year)
Infants child care accepts babies from six weeks to one year. Researchers propose that the best age for infants to start Daycare is eight to twelve months. Babies are typically not yet mobile, so they are less likely to get into mischief or injure themselves.
However, babies are still developing their social interaction and learning skills at this young age. So it is essential to choose a daycare that can provide a safe and nurturing environment for your child.
You might also like to read: What Do Infants Do at Daycare?
Toddlers (1 year-4 years)
Toddlers’ ideal age to start Daycare is suggested to be 3 to 4 years. By this age, children are much more independent and can care for themselves for the most part.
Additionally, children of this age are typically more social, so they may do better in a daycare setting where they can interact with other children. However, the age bracket of 1.5 to 2 years is considered the trickiest one since children are mobile and more hyperactive in this age bracket.
You may also want to read: How Much Daycare is Too Much?
Daycare Tip for All Age Groups
Quality of Daycare Services
Choosing the best Daycare that provides quality service is vital for kids of all ages. Best daycare centers maintain a sensitive environment and have well-trained staff.
You should check the following points while searching for the best Daycare:
- It should have a low child-to-caretaker ratio so that every child gets proper attention.
- It should have a minimum caretaker turnover rate because it takes time for children to create attachments.
- Daycare must take all the safety measures for special children and more reserved children.
You Might Also Want to Read: What to Look for In Daycare?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the hardest age to take care of a baby?
Many parents would agree that the hard age to take care of a baby is around 3 to 4 months old. This can be a difficult time of transition, as babies are starting to become more alert and active than they were as newborns but are still too young to understand the world around them.
At this stage, babies may cry more frequently as well.
When should toddlers not go to Daycare?
If your toddler can’t sleep without parental assistance and shows extreme signs of illness like being unresponsive, irritated, or crying excessively, they should not be taken to Daycare unless explicitly advised by a doctor.
Is Daycare stressful for babies?
It is natural to feel anxious about sending your baby to Daycare. However, research has found that when the right conditions are met, such as an environment where the caregivers are kind and sensitive and have appropriate ratios of children per caregiver, babies can experience positive outcomes in daycare settings.
Is it better for toddlers to stay home or go to Daycare?
It’s entirely up to a family to determine if they should enroll their toddler in Daycare or keep them home. Keeping toddlers at home offers the advantage of providing them with a consistent and nurturing atmosphere that can foster cognitive growth.
Conversely, when both parents have preoccupying jobs and require external assistance for child-rearing, outside care is likely the best solution.
Does Daycare negatively affect infants?
Infants who attend Daycare can experience negative effects, such as stress, separation anxiety, and a decline in language development. To avoid these potential issues, you must ensure that the daycare facility you choose has a low child-to-caretaker ratio and qualified staff members.
Finding the ideal time to enroll your child in Daycare is a personal decision only you can make after carefully researching and discussing it with other parents.
As concerned parents, we want nothing but the best for our children – so trust yourself and be confident that whatever choice you make will be in your child’s best interest.
*Note: The insights in this article are sourced from the author’s personal experiences and online surveys.