Easing Your Baby Into Nursery

For many parents, especially those putting their baby into a nursery for the first time, it can be a daunting prospect and you may have lots of questions. 

Below is some advice on how we believe parents can help ease their baby into nursery. We have focussed on three areas that we have identified as being very important for our babies and their parents; milk, sleeping and food.

It is important to remember that starting nursery is a time of great change for your baby. There is no set time that it takes a baby to settle, but they all do eventually.

We are here to support you as parents when your baby begins at Carousel. We know that it can be very difficult leaving your baby so we have a ‘nursery mobile’ that allows easy contact between our staff and parents throughout the day. We regularly take photos of the children during activities so that you can see what they have been up to, and we keep a daily diary for all children. Our nursery nurses are very happy to chat at drop-off or pick-up time, or you can email us if there is anything you would like to discuss. 

Milk

- Most babies in our Ducklings room will still be drinking breast, formula or cow’s milk throughout the day. You are welcome to provide expressed breast milk for your baby, or we ask that you bring in their formula milk. If your baby is drinking cow’s milk you do not need to provide this. 

- If your baby is breastfed, then you will need to wean them onto a bottle or cup before they start at Carousel. There is lots of helpful advice in books and on the internet about how to do this.

- Some babies struggle with drinking their milk when they first start at nursery, possibly because being given a bottle is an intimate thing and they are used to receiving it from their main caregiver. However, we find that once babies are settled and form a bond with our staff, they quickly get back to guzzling their milk again! 

Sleep

At Carousel, we are very flexible about when your baby can have their daytime naps. They can stick to their regular routine, but please bear in mind that if other babies and children in the nursery are awake then we cannot make the environment as dark or quiet as your baby may be used to. 

We do have our own routine at Carousel that we will encourage you and your child into once they are ready. The children have lunch at 11.15am, after which around half of our children will go to sleep for an hour or two. The older children who do not sleep go outside to play at this time so that the nursery is as quiet as possible. 

Carousel's Sleep Environment

- The sleep rooms are darkened and made as quiet as possible. 

- You can provide us with anything your baby might use to get to sleep, such as a comforter, a dummy, a sleeping bag etc. 

- We use travel cots that our younger babies sleep in, but as children get older they sleep on mats. 

- If your baby has to be cuddled or breastfed to sleep, this can be difficult when they start nursery. Whilst we love cuddles with the babies, we cannot realistically cuddle or rock six babies to sleep. Babies who are still breastfed to sleep when they start nursery will find the transition very difficult and possibly stressful. 

- We therefore encourage parents to get their babies out of these habits before they start nursery. The most common way of doing this is by sleep training and there is lots of advice in books and online about how to do this.

- We find that as children reach the age of about 1, they begin to drop their morning nap and have just one sleep after lunch. Of course, we will not force a baby into our routine until they seem ready and if you want us to keep trying with morning or afternoon naps then we will do so.

Food

We find that most babies start with us at Carousel when they are around 9 months old, and are therefore usually weaned onto solid food already.

At Carousel we can let babies feed themselves with their hands or we can spoon feed them. We help babies to start spoon feeding themselves when they show signs of being ready for this. We do recommend that a mixed approach to weaning is best, as babies who accept a spoon, but don’t need their food completely pureed, and can eat things like fruit by themselves, will get on best with eating whilst they are at nursery.

Babies who are spoon fed should be introduced to more lumpy textures before they reach 9/10 months old because they are more likely to reject new textures if they are introduced later. We would suggest that once your baby seems to be accepting pureed foods readily and easily, you begin to introduce thicker ingredients, puree the food less and eventually make the transition to cut up food.

At Carousel we find that our babies eat the best of all of our children, because they do not ‘eat with their eyes’ as older children do. We would therefore recommend that you take the opportunity of introducing your baby to lots of different textures and flavours, and keep everything crossed that they don’t become fussy eaters!