How Do I Get My Toddler Excited for Daycare? 7 Tips to Boost Enthusiasm

The first day of daycare is a major milestone in both a parent and a toddler’s life!  Time for your child to grow up a little and get out on their own, learning and socializing with their peers and teachers.  For some children, the transition is seamless, and they come home overflowing with joy and excitement about the new friends they’ve made and all the fun they’ve had.  For other children, it’s a fearful day, full of hesitation, tears, or even a meltdown.  Most parents have a strong guess which reaction their kid is more likely to have.  And for those with children of a more cautious disposition, you may be asking: “How do I get my toddler excited for daycare?”  Well you’re in luck!  At Big Hearts Little Hands, we’ve been caring for little ones since 2014 — both those who can’t wait to ditch mom and dad and hang out at our center, and those who would rather stay at home.  Here are our best 7 tips for getting your child supercharged to take on a day at Big Hearts Little Hands:

1. Tour our Center before the Big Day

Before your little’s first big day, arrange a tour of the center. Let them take in their new class, meet their new teachers, and perhaps even play with some future classmates and friends. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, familiarizing a child with a new environment reduces anxiety and enhances their sense of security.

2. Talk About the Fun!

As the parent, you can really push and emphasize the best parts of daycare.  Fun activities!  New Friends!  Crafts and Toys!  Endless play!  The promise of good things to come, as highlighted by Child Development experts, is a potent motivator for toddlers and plays a crucial role in their growth and learning.

3. Read Books Together on Daycare Adventures

Consider this from your toddler’s perspective:  They have literally no idea what they are walking into when they go to daycare!  All they know is it’s a strange building away from mom and dad, away from their toys, and away from their siblings and everything else they know.  But there are plenty of children’s books about what it’s like to go to daycare and school!  Reading such stories with your toddler can help them visualize what their day will be like, and get excited about their upcoming adventure.

4. Engage in Imaginative Play

Children at this age learn the most through playing, especially imaginative playtime.  What if you set up a little role-play session, where you pretend to drop your little off at their first day of school?  And also where you pick them up?  This helps your toddler become familiar with their new routine, and helps set their mind at ease.

5. Obtain some Cool Gear

New possessions are one of the easiest ways to get your child excited!  Spike their enthusiasm by showing them the new backpack, lunchbox, or even a special outfit that you got for their first day.  They’ll be so excited to wear these things and show them off, they’ll forget all about the caution and hesitation they had before!

6. Exude Positivity and Calm

Your toddler picks up on your emotions and copies them.  Avoid saying anything negative about the daycare where they can hear you.  Always keep upbeat and excited about the big day, even if you are understandably a little nervous yourself!   As per a study in Child Development, how you speak about childcare can influence your child’s outlook, making them more receptive and eager.

7. Celebrate the Small Wins

Once daycare begins, your child will have good days and challenging days.  But especially at first, every positive story your child excitedly spills to you in the car ride home, is a win!  Celebrate with them the happy memories they are making.  This reinforces their excitement about the next day, their confidence to independently attend, and their new routine.

In Closing

Millions of children across the world have made the transition from at home to daycare.  It’s a part of growing up and developing as a young person.  No one said it would be easy, for either parent or child.  But with the 7 Tips above, transitioning to daycare is something that can be a genuinely exciting and positive step for your little one.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics – Helping Children Adjust to Early Child Care Settings
  2. The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development
  3. Child-Parent Emotional Processes and Children’s Adjustment