Getting to know the baby group

“So there I was. Outside. All alone. Tears in my eyes. And my sweet baby in the arms of a stranger… Looking back, I think those first three hours at day care were more difficult for me than for Tijn.” Lonneke: “I must have looked at the clock a hundred times to see if it was time to pick him up yet. And when the moment was finally there, I found him sitting on ‘teacher’ Helga’s lap, he was totally comfortable. What a relief.”

Smallsteps daycare - baby meets pedagogical employee

“Tears are not uncommon actually. And I totally understand,” says Helga. “Parents need to get used to the new situation as well.” She has been working as a pedagogical employee for 23 years now. “Preferably with babies, they just make me so happy.”

Special days to get to know everyone. 

“Before the child starts day care officially, there are two or sometimes three days to get to know the baby group,” Helga explains. “Usually, we start with a couple of hours. I really make time for the child and the parents. I reassure them and make sure they truly feel welcome.”

“The place, the people, the schedule, everything is new,” Lonneke says. “A friend of mine told me she had a very positive experience, but still… It’s difficult to imagine what it’s like until you’re really in the middle of it all.”

A thousand questions

“Sometimes they have a thousand questions,” Helga laughs. “How do we arrange breast-feeding? What if my child is ill, doesn’t drink or doesn’t want to go to sleep? And what do you actually do all day long? Parents can ask as many questions as they like. I’m happy to answer all of them. Sometimes I offer some advice for at home as well. About sleeping and the first meals, for instance.” Together with her colleagues she makes sure day care is a nice place for the children as well as the parents. “You can really tell their trust grows after a while and they feel more and more secure.”

“When the baby comes to meet everyone they can greet him or her with a gentle touch or a little kiss or just by looking at each other for a bit”

Helga also prepares the other children of the group. “I tell them a new child will be joining us. Usually they are very surprised. We read a book together, for instance, ‘A new kid on the farm’. In this story all the animals of the petting zoo are going to visit a newly born baby goat. And when the baby comes to meet everyone, we lie down on the play mat together so we can all get to know each other a little and the children can greet the baby with a gentle touch or a little kiss. Or just by looking at each other for a bit.”

For some babies it’s quite an adjustment. The smells are different as well as the noises and the people. No wonder they need to get used to it all. That’s why I carry them around, so they get used to my voice. We snuggle on the couch, I sing songs or we read a book together on the play mat. For some babies it takes a little longer than for others, but that’s ok. Eventually everything always turns out just fine.”

Lonneke: “Saying goodbye is still hard sometimes. But I know Tijn is taken care of in such a loving way. And when I peek in through the window I see how he is captivated by the toys in no time. That’s very reassuring. It lifts my spirits and then I cycle to work in a good mood.”

Catching up at the end of the day

“When you come to pick up your baby, I will fill you in on how your baby has been sleeping and eating,” Helga says. “And we tell you what we have done that day: reading, singing, peek-a-boo. And anything related to the development. Every day, something fun happens which parents are eager to hear about.

You know, it’s just an incredible job. The children bring me such joy. I can watch them grow a little more every day. And when they go to primary school after four years and say ‘Bye bye Hellypelly!’ when they say goodbye, I’m quite proud to be honest!”