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14 month baby - having hard time to get used to day care


I have a 14 month old baby boy who is having hard time adjusting to the day care. I am really worried if he is not being social and if this is normal behavior.

I enrolled him to a home day care , a Montessori based one. Most of the kids are older and who are at least 3 plus years old. There is only 1 person who takes care of everyone plus a helper. Majority of the kids are independent and can take care of themselves.

Due to Covid, my baby hardly saw anyone or interacted with anyone . He is currently at the peak of stranger and separation anxiety. He cries due to that. It has been more than 14 days since I enrolled him at day care, and the lady says he cries a lot. He does not want to play with other kids nor he does not like playing with toys. He just follows her wherever she goes and wants her to pick him up. She tells me to teach him independent play at home as well.

At home, he has very short attention span , he plays with toys but for very very short span.All he wants to do is climb furniture, stairs , he loves to go to kitchen, play with dish washer , utensils , loves to remove things from draws etc. he loves doing exploratory stuff rather than sitting in one place and playing with toys.

I feel he is good in other areas , like he wants to play always with us, he shows and brings things to us, he makes us laugh, he points, responds to name , eye contact is good. He is very very good at imitating us. Whatever action i do, he immediately tries to copy it. He loves to follow us everywhere . I put some toys in front of him and he literally plays with them for 2 or 5 min and he would follow us and do whatever we want to do. He is walking and says around 5 words. He can point to 6 body parts.

I am so stressed and worried that he is crying so much at the day care and not getting used to it. Should I be worried? Is this normal behavior ?Should I give him some more time? Or should I change the day care. I need your guidance and expertise

So sorry you’re going through this! 14 months is exactly the age of stranger anxiety. sounds very normal to me. Also, I’m sure it can be very intimidating for a 14 month old baby to keep up with 3 year olds who are already talking and playing in a more mature way. If you can find a different daycare with more adults present and more kids of a similar age to your baby, that would probably make a big difference. Good luck!

Hi @Anxiousmama, this sounds so overwhelming. I do agree with @itsmeserena that a higher ratio of adults to children could make a huge difference, and also kids of the same age.

Another point I want to address from what you said is attention span. We should be expecting 1-2 minutes of attention per year of age. That means your baby should be expected to have 1-3 minutes of attention for toys or other activities. It is completely normal for this age to be exploring, climbing, etc. instead of sitting to focus on play for longer periods of time.

@Drkarenweiss any advice or thoughts to share?

This is so stressful! I agree with the others- that’s a wide range of ages, and by virtue of his age he needs a lot more from the adults than the other kids. I wonder if the adults there are spread too thin, or are occupied with the kinds of tasks that older kids need. I’m not sure that prolonged independent play is realistic at this age. Are there other local and affordable day care options? I hope this works out soon- it’s so painful when your kid is unhappy.

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Thank you so so so much everyone for your input. Truly appreciate it. The day care lady is really nice but in my opinion I feel she does not give him enough attention. She keeps saying that he does not want to play with other kids or toys but wants to be around her all the time. I doubt if she can allocate him enough time and attention. The helper is nice but she comes into picture only for supervising older kids play, cleaning stuff etc. he is very much attached to his plush toy . Today I missed giving to him and he started crying. I had to go back and drop the toy. That’s his only comfort. It’s heartbreaking him to see crying so much . He usually is a happy baby. Lot of friends I talk to say it should take more than 2 to 3 weeks for a baby to get adjusted to day care. That made my anxiety

Current situation is tough. Believe it or not , almost all of the day cares don’t have any occupancy . I even enrolled into waiting list and paid some money to get into waiting list. There were only few of them available, which I toured and didn’t like. I am so stressed that he is crying and second guessing myself all the time .

I completely hear how stressful it is to be worried about your baby being upset when you can’t find another good option right at this time.

I had the same situation when my twins were 16 months. I hired a babysitter who they just didn’t click with and I couldn’t find a replacement for about 4 months. It was beyond horrible leaving in the morning knowing they were upset. But I watched the video monitors in my house and they were safe, fed, changed etc. Eventually I found a new babysitter who was a far better match and today, my 10 year old twins don’t remember those 4 months.

While it’s not ideal, it does sound like his basic needs are being cared for and the people running the daycare are trying. Safety is the top priority and if you feel like that is covered, then maybe that can offer you some comfort. Even if he’s not the most happy he could be, in years to come he won’t remember. And hopefully a better option will come up soon.