Entrusting Your Infant to a Day Care Provider:
Parental Separation Anxiety

by Claudia Tillis Berk, Assistant Executive Director

Ossining Children’s Center

As a mother, grandmother, and child care teacher/administrator for 43 years, I have tremendous empathy for parents who are leaving their infant in our care for the first time. Your desire to protect your baby is strong and intense. And rightfully so. Anxiety about leaving your baby in someone else’s care is normal.

At the Ossining Children’s Center, we understand that the adjustment to day care is a challenge for both parent and baby. And we support you through that process. After an initial meeting and tour of the program with me, parents will meet with their child’s prospective teacher/caregiver. If the parent finds that OCC is a good fit for their family, we work with the parent on a plan for transitioning the baby to our care. 

A Gradual Transition to Day Care

Ideally – for the baby’s first week at OCC – we suggest that the baby come for a few hours each day, gradually lengthening the time that the child is with us each day. Sometimes – due to parents’ work schedules – a full week of transition isn’t possible. We can adjust the transition time to two or three days, if necessary. If you wish, you can leave an item of clothing with mom’s smell (we never leave such items in a crib with the baby!). 

You might be surprised to know that most babies make this adjustment more easily than the parents do. Babies are able to transfer – to a nurturing adult – the trust and attachment that they have for their parents. However, you needn’t fear that your baby will form a closer bond to their teacher/caregiver than to you, their parent. You will always be number one in your baby’s affection. That being said, you do want your child to form an attachment with their teacher/caregivers – that way you know your child will be happy when you are away from them at work.

We also know that it is impossible to concentrate at your job if you are worried about your baby. We want you to call us if you have a concern. If you’re still concerned after speaking to your child’s teacher, I can pop into the infant classroom and take a photo of your child playing happily, and text the photo to you.

We Never Let a Child Cry Inconsolably

When a baby is upset, we can almost always comfort them. If our cuddles, lullabies, and gentle rocking fail to calm a baby (a very rare occurrence), we will call the parent. The child may be coming down with an illness, or just having a bad day.

You will find that, once your child is here with us for a few months, you will feel a part of our OCC family.