Settling In: How Long should it take to Settle in to a Nursery?

For many parents, just finding the right nursery to register their child at is often only half the story. The second half is then settling in your child to nursery life and the challenges this can present.

All children have their own special way of finding their feet at nursery. There are many things that we do as a nursery provider to help your child settle, but there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

If you’ve never really been apart from your child since they were born or not used a childcare provider before, the initial separation can be hard on both of you. But that’s why we’re here to help.

To give you an understanding of the settling in process, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to provide you with reassurance and guide you through the process.

How long does it usually take for a child to settle in at nursery?

Every child will have a different experience when settling in at nursery. How long it takes to settle depends a lot on what their past experiences have been and whether they’re already used to being apart from you. We have seen some children who settle instantly, but this is a rare occurrence. On average, we usually find that it takes children somewhere between 2-4 weeks to fully settle in.

How does the settling in process work at nursery?

At Nursery Rhymes, we offer parents 3 settling in sessions as standard, but more can be requested if needed. The first session usually lasts for an hour, and we would ask you to stay with your child. The first session is about you and your child getting used to the nursery environment and getting to know the staff team who will be working with your child.

Settling in sessions are an opportunity for us to learn more about your child and what their interests and needs are. This allows our staff to understand how best to support them, during their time at nursery. We find this makes the settling in process much easier for both parents and children.

The remaining sessions tend to be longer to support your child in getting used to the nursery environment for extended periods of time. During these sessions, we would ask that you try to leave your child for as long as possible so that they become comfortable with being separated from you. Parents are welcome to keep in touch as often as they need to during this process, as we understand that separation can be difficult for you as well as your child.

How should I prepare for my child’s first day at nursery alone?

It’s a good idea to pack a bag full of essentials to help with your child’s first day. Bring a spare change of clothes for messy play activities. Plenty of nappies (if needed) and wipes should be provided and maybe a comforter. A comforter could be a dummy, teddy bear or blanket from home. We also find that family photos help some children feel calmer and give them something to talk about.

If your child is old enough, then it’s a good idea to talk to them beforehand about what is going to happen. Explain that you’ll be dropping them off to the nursery, what they will be getting up to and when you’re coming to collect them. Sometimes, children will struggle if they feel that you have left them.

Is there anything I can do to help encourage my child to settle in at nursery?

You may be feeling some anxiety about being away from your child, which your child may pick up on. Talking to your child regularly about the nursery in a positive way can be a big help. Try to talk about what they will be doing and what the day will be like for them.

Children who attend nursery frequently will settle faster as they become comfortable with being away from you. This also helps to embed a routine and your child feels some consistency. This is the reason for our minimum session requirement. Less than 3 sessions can often be unsettling for children if the time away from nursery between sessions is too long.

How can I make saying goodbye at nursery easier?

We know that saying goodbye isn’t easy for you or your child. Some children will be upset whereas others may quite happily stay with the staff (which makes parents upset!). The settling in sessions is a great support tool for reassuring children that will always return to collect them.

Preparing your child before a day at nursery about the fact you’ll be leaving them for a while can also help. Try to keep smiling as you’re leaving so that your child doesn’t see this as a sad moment. Try not to linger when dropping off your child, as sometimes the longer you stay the more distressed your child could become. Again, you are welcome to keep in touch with us as often as you need to, even if you just want to check on how your child is doing.

Our staff understand the emotion involved with leaving your child at nursery. Some of them are parents themselves and have been through the settling in process as well. No question is silly and we encourage you to discuss any concerns you have with a member of the team.

What happens if my child just won’t settle?

Some children can take longer than others to settle; however, so long as you remain consistent they should settle eventually. We will always be honest with you throughout the process and will let you know if your child is struggling to settle. If this happens, then we would normally offer some more settling-in sessions where you can help to support them. Try to avoid coming to collect them. If they think that you will come and collect them early if they are upset then they will find it even harder to settle.

Our practitioners are always on hand if you need to talk to us. So please get in touch with them if you have any further questions about settling in

Prevention of choking

💚 Prevention of choking 💚

After teaching another great parent first aid yesterday the discussion of choking is always top of the agenda so I found this great visual and advice from Charlotte at SR Nutrition

Follow her page for great nutritional and weaning advice

This is what Charlotte has to say…

🥦Often with the parents I speak to, one of their biggest fears when introducing solid food is choking…

🆘In all honesty children and adults can realistically choke on anything (like me with my tea 🙈)

❗️However there are certain foods that pose more of a risk of choking for young babies and children…

📝 I wanted to do a post to address this because I am always asked about it and, in all honesty, I’m always a little bit wary of posting about choking hazards because any food can be a choking hazard for a baby!

🦷 During weaning you will soon learn your own child’s abilities with food-some babies have excellent chewing skills (& teeth) early on & are able to cope with harder foods and textures more easily than others.

👶🏼With that in mind here is a fairly comprehensive graphic of food choking hazards for babies & young children.

👍🏼It’s not an exhaustive list, but I would say it includes most of the main culprits.

❌You don’t have to avoid most of these foods, just present them in ways that are more manageable for children

😃 As your little one gets more confident & experienced with eating they will be able to move towards some of the food in the first picture, but remember that whole nuts and whole grapes are not recommended until children are around five years of age!

💚 Think it’s great advice and to be fair I still cut Sophia’s grapes and she is 10 😝 💚

It is also a very good idea to be prepared for an emergency so why don’t you get in touch for a parent first aid course!

🌟Only £20pp and I come to you at a date and time that suits you 🌟

I have over 10 years experience as a first aid instructor and I am a HCPC registered Paramedic 🚑

#weaning #babyledweaning #choking #chokinghazard #firstaid #baby #parenting #fingerfoods #parentfirstaid

Why Does My Child Bite?

“Parenting Advice: “Why Does My Child Bite?”

Children who bite is something that many parents experience. Our nursery practitioners will often encounter biting as well. One of the questions we’re often asked is, “Why does my child bite?”

You may find it comforting to know that most children will bite at least once before they turn 3 years old. It’s not uncommon for a child to go through a biting phase during their toddler years.

But why does your child bite? Can you prevent your child from biting in the first place? How should you respond if your child bites you or another child? What can you do if biting persists?

“Why might my child be biting?”

  • Venting frustration – if they’re unable to communicate or express themselves
  • Seeking attention
  • Playing – they may think it’s a game if people laugh or joke about it
  • Excitement
  • Witnessed the behaviour from another child or peer

It’s important to note that the reasons why your child is biting will vary depending on their age. For example, a baby might bite if they are teething. Whereas, a toddler may bite if they are unable to communicate their wants or needs in a particular situation.

“What can be done to prevent my child from biting?”

It’s not always possible to prevent biting. However, you may be able to read your child’s language and learn to spot when they’re about to bite. There may be particular patterns that you recognise which become ‘triggers’ before the actual bite occurs. If you notice that your child is about to bite, try distracting them with a toy or redirecting them towards another activity.

“What should I do if my child bites?”

You can’t always prevent biting, so it’s important to be aware of how to respond appropriately according to your child’s age.


A teething baby wouldn’t understand words like, ‘No’. Instead, try using chilled teething rings and cold cloths to chew on or teething gels to soothe their pain.

Toddlers and young children

As children develop and begin to understand words, you can try using age-appropriate language. Even for a toddler, it can sometimes be difficult for them to understand that their actions can have a negative impact on another child or person. Therefore, it is important that when you try to manage the situation where a child has bitten that you use age-appropriate wording or picture prompts to support your message.

Picture prompts are particularly useful to support younger children’s understanding of emotions.

“What should I do if my child bites another child?”

It is important that the child who has been bitten is comforted by their parent or carer. If your child is the one who has bitten, then ensure that you approach the situation in an age-appropriate way.

For children under 3 years of age, this may mean that you remove them from the situation. Use simple language to explain what they have done.

For example, “That wasn’t kind. That’s hurt the other child. The other child is upset.” Use short, simple sentences to ensure that they understand the message. This is where you may find picture prompts useful when describing how another child may feel.

If possible, you should make sure your child apologises.

“What should I do if biting becomes a habit for my child?”

Most children will naturally grow out of a biting habit by the time they reach 3 years of age.

There are some strategies you can try to help your child overcome a biting habit. You will need to be persistent if these are to work effectively.


There is a book that our staff use in our nurseries you can try called, ‘Teeth Are Not for Biting‘ by Elizabeth Verdick. The book uses simple words which can help young children discover ways to cope with frustration and other biting triggers.


Consistently reinforce the behaviour that you expect. For example, “use your kind hands” or “be kind to your friends”. Encourage your child to “use their words” when they become frustrated or upset.

Many people forget that children do not always understand the reasons behind having to do something, like sharing. In a child’s eyes, having to give up a toy or activity is a highly emotional decision. Bear this in mind when you are asking your child to share.

Positive Reinforcement

It’s important to reward good behaviour when you see it, like sharing, being kind or showing patience. Remember to praise your child if they are playing nicely or using words to express their feelings.

Behaviour Management Tools

While we don’t use reward charts at Nursery they can be an effective way of encouraging good behaviour at home. For instance, your child could collect a sticker each time they behave well. When they receive enough stickers, they could choose a reward or treat like going to the park or choosing a bedtime story.

Be careful to make sure that rewards are not always a material item. Activities that you can do together are usually a great reward.

“Noting seems to stop my child biting. Should I seek help?”

If you’re worried that your child isn’t breaking their biting habit, then you should try talking to professionals, friends or relatives to ask for their advice.

You can always speak to your Health Visitor, who is available to you until your child reaches 5 years of age. Our nursery staff have plenty of experience in working with children who bite, so please talk to them and ask for their help as well.

Whatever you decide to implement, make sure that you are consistent. Consistency is the difference between a strategy working or failing.

What to look for when choosing a nursery

What to look for when choosing a nursery

Supernanny expert Amanda Coxen, gives her tips and advice on how to find the best nursery for your little one

As a recruiter for nurseries and a mother of a four-year-old who attends a nursery, I have seen for myself both the good and the bad in the nursery industry. When choosing any form of childcare, don’t rush. There are some excellent nurseries out there but you do have to do some research.

A day nursery (as opposed to a nursery school) is normally a privately-run nursery for children aged three months to five years. However, there are also local authority nurseries and community nurseries. A day nursery is run for childcare purposes, but normally follows a curriculum for the 3-5 year olds. Normal hours are from 8am to 6pm all year round except for public holidays. A nursery school tends to operate during term time and only takes children from 3-5 years. Nurseries have to adhere to strict ratios of staff to children, as well as guidelines and curriculum set down by the Government.

With nurseries, timing is crucial. The best nurseries will get booked up as much as a year in advance so make sure that you don’t leave it until the last minute.

Nurseries range in size from 10 to 100+ places. That may be an important factor. Large nurseries are not always a bad thing as they tend to have better facilities – you just need to check how the rooms and ages of the children within the nursery are broken down (as you don’t want your child in a room with 30 others).

The best way to research is to a) contact your local Children’s Information Service and ask for a list of nurseries in your area; b) ask parents in the area if they can recommend any nurseries to you. I got a short list of recommended nurseries by asking the bursar of the local school which ones they and the parents would recommend. Narrow your list and then start phoning around to book a visit.

I am a firm believer in first impressions so when you first arrive what are your thoughts? Does it look in a good state of repair? Is it secure? Were you greeted when you first arrived?

I remember turning up to one nursery, and being met at the door by a rather sour faced person, who then left the door open whilst she went to find the manager. Meanwhile two children started toddling out of the door!

It is always hard to get a true impression of a nursery when visiting because they are going to be on their best behaviour. But you will see what the layout looks like, how happy they children are and how do the staff look. You should fire as many questions as you can.

Ten key questions and things to check

1. Do they have any spaces for the time you are looking at?
2. How many children do they have now and what is the maximum they take?
3. Do they provide all meals, if so what is it and where is it cooked, or do you have to provide food?
4. If you have a baby, then you need to specifically check the following:

• Do you need to bring your own nappies and formula?
• Where do the babies sleep during the day (ideally you would like to have the cots away from the playing area, but space is at a premium in nurseries so that is rare)?
• How much fresh air do the babies get during the day and how are the babies transported outside of the nursery (ask to see the prams and buggies)?
• How much time if any do the babies spend in the company of the older children (depending how you view this, it could be an advantage or a disadvantage)

5. Can you see a copy of their latest OFSTED report (or alternatively you can view these all on line)
6. What sort of settling in period is there?
7. If you need to leave the nursery, what is the notice period?
8. What do they do about security and people entering the building?
9. Is there outside space?
10. Do they accept childcare vouchers (if you get these from your employer) and do they offer subsidised places for three yr olds?

This is just a short list of questions. When I looked round nurseries I had a list of about 30 – which in itself provided an interesting test to see how patient the manager stayed whilst dealing with them all! Finding the right nursery can be a tense time, but when you do it is very rewarding. My son has had experience of two nurseries and has thoroughly enjoyed them both. The key is the staff and the manager. They make the difference between a good nursery and a poor one.

Fruit Play

The Pre-School children have had lots of fun today using their senses to explore a tray of different fruits. The children showed interest in the different textures and smells as well as the different colours and shapes. We did lots of squishing and squeezing and the children observed the different effects.

These are just some of the things the children said throughout their play,
“it’s very squishy.”
“it made my hands all red with the juice.” 
“this fruit has got all little seeds in”
“I can smell strawberry, it’s delicious”
“the berries came from the big trees”

Children at Nursery Rhymes make Autumn display

The toddlers have all enjoyed helping to create an Autumn display this week. They all had the chance to participate in some fun creative activities of their choice.

They Included fruit and vegetable tasting/printing, leaf printing on the Autumn tree and creating trees with cotton buds. The children enjoyed learning about Autumn in the process. As they collected leaves, sticks and pine cones we talked about the change in colour of the leaves from green to red/orange/yellow.

During the various activities, the children learnt lots of different words to share their experiences. Here are a few examples:

‘That’s prickly, the carrot is long, looks like a circle, I didn’t like the lemon, it taste funny, the broccoli looks like a tree, small brown leaf, it looks spotty, the tree is big, I put leaves on it, I like tomato that’s my favourite!’