The Worst Age To Start Daycare: Is There Really A “Right” Time?


Choosing the right age to start daycare for your child is a tough decision that many parents face. There are many factors to consider, including the child’s developmental stage, the parents’ work schedules, and the availability and quality of daycare options. However, there is often debate over what is the “right” age to start daycare, and whether starting too early or too late can have negative consequences. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of starting daycare at different ages and provide tips for making the best decision for your family.

Starting Daycare Too Early: The Risks

Many parents are eager to enroll their child in daycare as soon as possible, often due to work obligations or the belief that early socialization is beneficial. However, starting daycare too early can have negative consequences for both the child and the parents.

For infants and young toddlers, daycare can be overwhelming and overstimulating. They may not yet have the ability to regulate their emotions or communicate their needs, leading to frustration and anxiety. Additionally, young children are more susceptible to illness, and being in a daycare environment increases the risk of exposure to germs and viruses.

For parents, starting daycare too early can create feelings of guilt and separation anxiety. They may worry that their child is not getting the individualized attention and care they need, or that they are missing out on important developmental milestones.

The Benefits of Waiting: Starting Daycare Later

On the other hand, waiting to start daycare until the child is older can have many benefits for both the child and the parents.

For toddlers and preschoolers, waiting to start daycare can give them more time to develop social and emotional skills, as well as language and communication abilities. They may also be better equipped to handle the structure and routine of a daycare environment, leading to a smoother transition.

For parents, waiting to start daycare can provide more time to establish a strong bond with their child and to explore alternative childcare options, such as a nanny or family member. It can also reduce feelings of guilt and anxiety about leaving their child in someone else’s care.

The Ideal Age to Start Daycare: Finding a Balance

So, what is the “right” age to start daycare? The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Every child and family is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.

However, experts generally recommend waiting until the child is at least 12-18 months old before starting daycare. This allows for more time for the child to develop basic skills and for the parents to establish a strong bond. It also reduces the risk of illness and overstimulation that can occur with younger infants.

Ultimately, the decision of when to start daycare should be based on the individual needs and circumstances of the child and family. It is important to consider factors such as the quality and availability of daycare options, the child’s temperament and developmental stage, and the parents’ work schedules and preferences.

Tips for Choosing the Right Daycare

Regardless of when you choose to start daycare, it is important to carefully evaluate your options and choose a provider that meets your child’s needs and your family’s values. Here are some tips for choosing the right daycare:

  • Research and visit multiple daycare centers to compare options and get a sense of the environment and staff
  • Look for providers that have experience and training in child development and safety
  • Ask for references and check online reviews from other parents
  • Consider the location, hours, and cost of the daycare
  • Ask about the provider’s policies on communication, discipline, and safety


Choosing the right age to start daycare is an important decision that can have a big impact on your child and your family. While there is no “right” age that works for everyone, waiting until your child is at least 12-18 months old and carefully evaluating your options can help ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.