Transitions: From One Child Care Setting to Another

Transitioning from one child care environment to another can be a difficult process. The video above will assist you in making sure this transition is as painless as possible. Below is a summary of the main points from the video…

For whatever reason, you’ve decided that it is time for your child to move from one setting to another.  How can you make this a smooth transition?

There are a few steps you can take to ensure that this transition has minimal bumps.


Step 1: Be prepared

The number one thing that I tell families they need to do is to know what that new environment is like. Get familiar with the schedule. Notice the centres that are available. Be able to describe the centre to your child. Be prepared with information about what activities the centre does and their routines.


Step 2: To prepare your child

Let your child know that they are moving from their current child care setting to another child care setting. Talk to your child in a fun manner about why they are moving. Find the positives of the move and stick to them. 

When talking about why they are moving child care settings you can say things like the following:

  • it’s going to be a bigger place
  • it’s a going to be a smaller place
  • it’s closer to your school
  • it’s helping you get ready for kindergarten


Step 3: Use visuals

Children thrive on visuals like pictures, calendars (countdown), or show them the building.


Step 4: Develop a transition plan

Most child care centres have a transition plan that they like to use. Find out what the centre’s plan is. You may have to advocate for more or less time depending on your families need.


Step 5: Transitional object

Let them bring something with them that will help your child feel better in their new environment. Having a picture of the family in their backpack may help. 

Transitions: From Swaddled to No Swaddle


Newborn children often do very well with a swaddle. The reason for this is that children are born with a reflex called the Moro Reflex.  This causes an infant to jerk their limbs especially their arms. This jerking action is problematic for some babies while falling asleep as they jerk themselves awake. Swaddling a baby is a great way to help our little ones relax as their bodies are not able to move as much.

As our newborns’ age swaddling can be dangerous. When babies start to roll it is not safe for them to be wrapped up or unable to move their arms. Therefore, it is ideal to transition your child from swaddling to sleep around 8 to 16 weeks depending on the child. The Moro reflex also stops around 4 to 4.5 months of age. 

How do you transition from being swaddled to not swaddled?


There are a few ways to remove the swaddle from an infant.

1. Cold Turkey: Remove the swaddle and go directly to a sleep sack. A sleep sack is a good idea and this is explained in the following post. Sleep Sack: Is it really necessary?

2. Replace with a transition sleep sack: You can buy a few different sleep sacks that still restrict your child’s arm movements from jerking them awake but allow them to push themselves up to flip over. 

3. Gradually: Over a few nights you can help your little one by doing the following:

  1. Swaddle with one arm out. Do this for a few days.
  2. Swaddle with both arms out. Just swaddle around the chest for a few nights (not too tight)
  3. Loosen the swaddle around the chest every few days.
  4. Move to a sleep sack.

As with all transition, this transition does take time and patience. You may find that you have to provide your little one with added comfort throughout the night for 7 to 10 days. Once the transition is complete your little one will be happily sleeping without waking up from the Moro reflex. 

Transitions: What are they and how can you help?

What exactly is a transition in respect to children?

A transition is when you are moving from one activity to another or when there is a big change in your little one’s world. Basically, it means you could be having 10 to 20 transitions a day.

Some children do absolutely fine moving from one activity to another. Other children do not.

There are a number of strategies that you can use to help your little one with transitioning from one activity to the next.

Helpful things when dealing with transitions…
1. Warnings:

Giving advance notice that the activity is changing or that you are going somewhere different can be helpful. There are 2 different ways you can give warnings. You can use verbal warnings or use timers.

Verbal warning example:

In 5 minutes we will do_____


There are a number of different timers you can use. Egg timers, digital timers, your phone, and visual timers (affiliate links below). The key with a timer is that it is not you being the constant reminder and your child is less likely to get frustrated with a timer.

2. Words:

The words you use can have a great impact on whether your child is able to follow through. When you ask “do you need to go__”, or “would you like to__”, I can pretty much guarantee the answer will be “no”. Instead, try stating what needs to happen. For example, “it is time to go to the bathroom”. Then follow up with giving your little a choice of how they will get there. “Would you like to walk or run there?”. There are more examples of words to use in the following article How to Talk so Your Toddler will Listen.

3. Listening:

When we are in a rush or trying to get out of the house we can forget to pay attention to our child’s words. When we listen to their reason for not wanting to stop the activity we will have a better understanding of how we can help them transition.

4. Using Visuals:

Charts or schedules can help your little one with moving from one activity to another because they know what is going to happen after the complete a certain activity. If they do not remember you can remind them to look at the chart. Here is a link to an example of a bedtime chart


Good luck assisting your little one with transitioning in a smoother manner. Feel free to comment on the post for more information.

Aa Always, Be the Parent You Want to Be!