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Tips for parents on settling a child into Nursery

  • A carefully managed, happy settling in period will ensure your child successfully settles into new situations. Research shows that a child who is supported in settling into a new situation, for example nursery is more likely to find settling into other new situations easier in the future. Spending time supporting your child to settle confidently into nursery provides the foundations to prepare your child to settle into other situations for example school.


  • Your child is an individual. Some children will settle quickly and easily, others will take longer and need more time and reassurance from you as parents, and from early years practitioners.


  • Your child will need time to build a trusting relationship with the people who will care for him/her in the setting. He/she will build this new relationship through playing with their key person and being near her throughout the session.


  • You will find it useful to familiarise yourself with the nursery settling in policy to help prepare you and your child.


  • Before your child is due to start discuss the importance of settling in sessions with your child’s key person. The key person and you should plan these together. Each child is unique and there is no ceiling placed on the number of settling in visits a child may need.


  • The setting will be able to give you information about routines and activities, and about the key worker who will build a relationship with your child and support them during their time in the setting. Use the information to talk to your child about the kind of situations they will be involved in, what the expectations will be, and about the routine in the setting.


  • Talk to your child before they start. It is very important for children to understand when you will be there with them; when you will leave; where you will be for that time without them, and when you will be coming back to take them home.


  • Read stories to your child about attending nursery and help them to talk through any concerns.


  • It is often useful if you leave your child for short periods with a familiar family member or close trusted friend, so your child has experienced time away from you, before they start nursery.


  • Sometimes when you are out and about walk/drive past the setting and talk to your child about the things he will be doing with his key person. Keep it simple and very positive.


  • It is important for your child to see you building a new positive, trusting relationship with their key person as they are likely to copy your behaviour.

Tips for successful settling in visits

  • Children need you to stay and be ‘boring’ while the key person engages your child in fun experiences. Try giving all your attention to a book you have brought to read. This will help your child start to move away from you and explore with someone who is more keen to play.


  • When you and your child feels ready, leave your child for short periods, increasing the length as your child is ready. Always return when you say you will and while your child is still happy. Do not worry if it takes several sessions before your child is settled enough for you to leave as this is normal.


  • When you leave your child, aim to leave quickly. Say goodbye and tell them where you are going and when you will be returning. E.g. ‘I’m going to the shop, I will be back after snack, goodbye’.


  • Even though you may be anxious, try and stay calm otherwise your child may feel they have reason to be anxious as well.


  • Once your child is staying for longer periods of time always ensure that your child knows who will be collecting them, giving advance warning if it is to be someone different.

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